The first time I heard about this Measure in Oregon was at a Plant Spirit Medicine conference a few years ago. I remember sitting in the audience and feeling nervous as hell about being there because I was still quite fresh to the above-ground scene of Plant Medicine Work. My network was small and I hadn’t really gone public yet. I was excited to see one of the presentations at the conference because it was about the legal framework that was being proposed in Oregon and all I can remember is the way it made me feel when I started to hear about it.
On the surface level, I was hesitant, even though I supported all the things that this measure would supposedly do/create. There was something that just didn’t click, despite my desire for it. But as the conversation unfolded, I felt sick. Not just sick to my stomach, but actually bad in my heart. This conversation felt all wrong, like it was being pulled from some slimy depth and presented on a silver platter as if no one would see it for what it really was. The way I feel about 109 today has not changed, it has only unpacked further.
I am not here to convince you of my viewpoint or bring you over to “my side”, only to present a perspective on the topic. I don’t believe there is a “right” and “wrong” side of anything per se, just a different perspective and a different potential path/future. All paths lead to the same place, but some paths include more trauma than necessary.
Upon moving to the PNW three years ago, I quickly became acquainted with the people involved in this project. I started talking to people about the Shamanic way of working with mushrooms and immediately was dismissed and/or excluded from future involvement as a result. I was treated like a crazy person. Once I opened the physical location of Sacred Heart, I had a few people come through my door who were scheduled to be lab testers, growers, Psilocybin Facilitators, or service center operators. The majority of them lied to me about who they were or were outwardly abusive with regard to their relationship with mushrooms. One of them even tried to steal information about my apprenticeship program so she could replicate it for her own. The shadows were out for all to see and man did I get a good look.
In my experience, these are all signs. They are signs of a deeper problem in the system we are discussing. These personal experiences aren’t what I am here to share though — I am here to discuss some higher-level considerations of the clinical use and distribution of psilocybin. I will start with the more 3D concepts and gradually move deeper into more quantum concepts and “woo”.
Building a case for Synthetic Psilocybin and Clinical use.
I can’t even go into the idea of creating a patent for Psilocybin and having it distributed by pharmaceutical companies. Big pharma is a whole different topic and one that makes me want to weep from a deep part of my soul. However, I will say that anytime we are taking a plant material and reducing it down to a chemical structure for replication, we are losing the spirit of that plant and thus the full potential for healing. We are losing the human-plant connection and the holistic nature of what healing can be. We are also disconnecting ourselves from the beautiful practices of many indigenous people (including many of our/your/my ancestors) by discrediting the use of a full plant in a Ceremony setting. I have had the great pleasure to speak with and work with many people who went through the John Hopkins studies as well as a few others. They all say the same thing — it helped, sort of, but it wore off quickly and they felt the need to return. This is much the same way our current healthcare model is already operating, is it not? It (maybe) helps you just enough to get you to come back and spend the money again, but more importantly creates a consumer. We must ask — is this system designed to heal you or profit off you? Be honest with yourself.
A word about our western healthcare model: I do think this model has its place in emergency care and when people need intense structure in order to heal, but I think it’s broken in most other ways. Our broken system is indeed a reflection of us as a society and also thrives because we are feeding the system. All systems operate like this. They must be fed in order to survive. The way to change the system or to truly heal is not through changing the structure of our healthcare, it’s through changing ourselves. It’s through claiming responsibility for our emotional baggage, claiming responsibility for the food we put our body, and the way we treat ourselves as humans. It cannot be fixed with universal healthcare or legalizing clinical psilocybin. Mark my words on this, we will not heal with clinical psilocybin work; we will only create different wounds.
Real Medicine People will be lost to the Profit Machine.
I feel like we will have to say goodbye to working with many real Shamans, Medicine People and indigenous wisdom carriers. They won’t be in business, much like most mom and pop shops that closed due to big box stores like Walmart and Target. How could someone who is a spiritual worker possibly compete with these organization who are already coming into town with millions of dollars, as well as investors and retreat properties? How will they be found in those google search results that you can buy your way to the top of? Some will survive, but I think many won’t. A prime example of how this is happening right now is with cannabis shops. I dare you to try and find a Cannabis Shaman — I sure wish I could. I have been to so many dispensaries and tried to find someone who could help me work with cannabis on a spiritual level because it is a plant that I need support working with. I have tried to find uncomplicated strains, or ones that haven’t been altered over and over again to make a “stronger” experience. The plants appear to not be grown or harvested with care and I feel all of that when I work with them. Hell, many of us have personally had horrifying cannabis experiences because of that energy that is being passed down through the plant (the lack of respect, care or connection). With a strong psychedelic like mushrooms, I can’t even imagine the complications that can occur.
Something to ponder: How easy is it to find a true Medicine Man or Medicine Woman right now? Consider why that is.
I am personally sick of hearing this argument for accessibility and I feel it’s a distraction from the truth of what's really happening. First of all, I highly doubt this work will be affordable to the majority of people once everyone has been paid — the service center, the facilitators, the lab, the grower, the state, etc. Second, many people who don’t have the money to access psilocybin that is currently available, the psychological support to do it on their own, or the money to grow it, are not ready for the experience it will bring them. Consider the hierarchy of needs on this one. You have to have a stable and safe home environment, including financial stability, to be able to consider higher-level things to access deep trauma healing. If you try to shoot yourself up to the top of the pyramid without having the stability, you will ultimately prolong your healing journey because you will likely not be able to handle what will be ripped open in the process. This will create a longer path to healing (aka more trauma). A person is not likely to have access to support that will help see them through a healing journey if money is a high concern. Trust me, doing this work requires the ability to get a lot of support — from therapy to coaching and bodywork. Proper integration and healing is a team effort.
On a different level, there are many people out there doing donation-based psilocybin work, sliding scale, low-cost Ceremony and community workshops who can’t get funding to expand the programs or pay rent because there is no money to be made there are no grant opportunities due to the legality. Many of them have been doing this work for decades and have so much to offer the community. This is where we should be looking for accessibility and easy entrance into this space.
Everything is Energy
If you are familiar with physics, energy healing or even intuitively tap in — you know that everything is energy. This means there will always be energy that impacts a person’s time in the psychedelic space. This “container” for facilitation under 109 will include the energy of many people and systems. Consider the energy of your facilitators, the person who harvests or tends to the mushrooms, the company that grows them, the regulating state agency, the person who runs the service center, the people who are in the building with you, etc. Think about all of their intentions for why they are doing this work — the conscious ones and the unconscious ones. All of these things will impact your experience, but the one I am most concerned about is the predatory nature of this profit system. Once the use of psilocybin mushrooms becomes a business, someone is profiting off the work of someone else — this is the predatory nature of business. I know there will be some people who have their heart in the right place on this, but the energy of a hierarchy/profit model will be damaging and will also be something a person will feel and embody as they sit for this experience.
Facilitating Mushrooms as a J-O-B
Let’s look at the mental health field for a moment. Many people in this field are so burnt out that it’s hard to even find someone to work with. People see mental health professionals for many years at a time, proving that the goal isn’t really to move forward under this system. So many of the people in this field also come from a traumatic childhood, and they have become therapists or counselors to help heal themselves, yet they never fully go down that path of looking at their own shit. Mushrooms facilitation will be no different, except now clients will be wide open on a spiritual level and the damage caused by an unacknowledged shadow will be severe. Additionally, I don’t believe this work can or should be a full-time job. As a facilitator, individuals will need to be doing their own inner work constantly and integrating these experiences of holding a container for others. In order to hold a proper container, you must conduct deep and constant self-care, energy hygiene, and get ample rest. Our western idea of a job/career does not support this.
Permission from the Plants - AKA Consent
This point is perhaps more significant than I can even convey. Over I the years I have been doing this, I have learned that the plants MUST give a person permission/consent to serve/carry them in order for true healing and collaboration to happen. Just as they must give you permission to harvest them or work with them out in nature. They can also revoke that permission. I have had a few apprentices and other medicine people through my doors that, when asked, the plant spirits would loudly say “NO” to them facilitating or carrying them as a Medicine. When a person is not in tune with this, or they override the permission with their own opinion, they are violating these plant spirits. I see this in my work all the time. People will sit with me or work alongside me and then start to serve others mushrooms without having explicit permission from the plants to do so. They are not seeking consent! In most cases, I see the high potential that this person will literally harm someone in the Medicine Space at a future date, usually an aspect of the deep inner feminine will be violated. This is another flavor of that super toxic patriarchal energy coming through — and it is one that devastates us all collectively. If you are working with or using a plant spirit without its explicit permission, you are violating that being. Let me say this again… if you are using a being without its permission or consent, you are violating it.
Can you see how this is a theme in our collective?
I find that there are many people out there that should be unearthing their own unique medicine to serve to the world and they don’t have the courage to do that, so they start serving mushrooms instead because it immediately puts them in a place of power/control/avoidance. Sometimes they are even called to a different plant spirit, but they are afraid to answer that call. Buckle up, because this is us watching true cultural appropriation in real-time. Treating the mushrooms like this is disrespectful and exploitative.
There is no room for Shamanic Practice
In the Shamanic setting, I absolutely cannot operate within Measure 109’s framework and I am so grateful I don’t have to. In a true Shamanic (or spiritual) setting, growing your own plants, singing to them, asking permission to harvest them, etc. are all essential to maintaining a relationship with the plant spirits. This goes with all plants, but mushrooms specifically since they facilitate the opening of some big ass portals. I would never be able to have a required second Facilitator at all times, because sometimes the plants don’t want to be served that way or the person in Ceremony truly doesn’t need it. This would be me asserting what I think is right over what the plants are telling me is right. I could not feed a service center by way of profit because I would feel my role as a cog in the profit wheel — which would be devastating to my spirit. I would be used to make money. Many times the plants want me to consume them during the Ceremony as well, and that is not allowed. All those things aside, I can’t even imagine feeling the weight of the matrix that is all the people involved in this 109 structure (the state, the labs, the other employees, etc.) because I can feel those things so deeply. Measure 109 makes this work impossible in a true spiritual setting — so where is the ability for a religious organization to operate? Once again, this model is showing that it is ok to take a sacred practice and exploit it — while also leaving out the connection to it’s true origin.
If we play along with this idea that we need state regulation and structure to work with mushrooms, we are further feeding the beast that tells us we are not allowed to work with plants/fungi/animals that come straight from the earth. I cannot get past the literal insanity of this.
Ok, phew. …
The one pro on my list of cons for Measure 109 is this: The conversation about psilocybin is finally opening people’s perspectives to working with plants as medicine. A handful of people will indeed see the benefit of working with the plant in a natural or holistic way. I am so grateful for that.
I do have a few more considerations that didn’t fit into my other points, but felt they were important just the same:
Plant Medicine can be overpowered by ego. Just because someone has experience in sitting with mushrooms, doesn’t mean they’ve done the work on themselves.
There is a huge difference between sitting with a Shaman, a therapist, sitting alone, recreational experience, etc. These are 100% different experiences and all have their place AND produce different results.
If a person isn’t willing to look at their shadows, spiritual bypassing by way of mushroom happens on an epic level and is sometimes irreversible. A shadow will run the show if gone unchecked.
Trauma is deeper and harder to heal when it is inflicted in the Medicine Space. If you work with someone who isn’t skilled, who has ill intent, or has a shadow running the show — the damage is intense. I have seen many energy systems of clients that have been damaged in ways I didn’t know were possible because they sat with someone who was not skilled.
Many of the real Medicine People out there will not be working within this system. These are the people who have a true calling to work with the plants and aren’t willing to sacrifice the container of their work for the “safety” provided by 109. This legal safety is an illusion, one that comes at great cost.
As with all things I discuss, I am always interested in having a conversation and exploring other perspectives. So please share if you feel called to. I believe all perspectives are important and am simply sharing mine.