It was only a matter of time: Someone’s come up with a plan to train and license individuals to serve as facilitators- in the early days of psychedelic drugs they were referred to as guides— to provide support and supervision during psilocybin-induced therapeutic sessions. Those can last hours, so monitoring is essential if we hope to avoid unpleasant incidents.

This is all happening in Oregon, of course, the first US state to legitimize this sort of hallucinogen use. Here’s a link to a recent article that appeared in The Guardian:

Field trip: inside America’s first magic mushroom school

According to the article, the initial class of students included “…midwives, educators and retirees” among others who will eventually fill the need for trained facilitators “…at one of Oregon’s 19 service centers.”

There are already 19 of these centers spread around the state? Somebody must be anticipating significant demand.

I’m not as confident, given the expense involved. This won’t be cheap. Another media source reports that the first of the centers, located in the university city of Eugene, “…expects to charge patients $500 for two hours of microdosing and $3,500 for six hours and a “hero” dose.” I’m guessing the ‘hero’ dose is simply a much larger one, with effects that last far longer.

I’m not clear on how a microdose of psilocybin, assuming that ‘micro’ refers to an extremely small amount, probably subtherapeutic — would be of much use in the confines of a single session. Let alone worth five hundred dollars.

The Guardian does note that “…Research has shown that supervised use of the drug can be an effective tool in alleviating symptoms of depression, PTSD and other conditions.” Well, some research, at least. Are the newly-opened centers purporting to offer medical treatment? Or are they open to traditional ‘psychonauts’, folks in pursuit of self-knowledge and self-exploration?

As for the effectiveness of treatment with psilocybin, I thought that was still subject to debate. If only because the “…exploration of the drug’s therapeutic potential has been limited by stigma and a federal ban.” Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more research, conducted by independent researchers. Can’t have too much good scientific information.

But suppose further studies, better designed ones, suggest that most of the benefit of hallucinogen use is the result of the placebo effect, rather than the drugs themselves? That’s happened before.

On the other hand, I am pleased to see an effort to add some degree of oversight to hallucinogen use. It should provide at least minimal assurance of quality and safety to the consumer.

Presumably, a licensed facilitator would be required to sign a code of ethical conduct, subject to suspension or loss of license in the event they were found guilty of misbehavior.

That would surely help inspire confidence in the product.