In 2020, the state of Oregon became the first in the country to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for mental-health treatment through a voter-approved initiative. In January 2023, the state became the first in the country to legalize adult=use psilocybin. In June, Oregon launched its first licensed psilocybin services center. Since then, 17 other licensed centers have launched, with the number of out-of-state visitors recorded thus far being significantly greater than patients from Oregon.
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic that is produced by more than 200 mushroom species. Numerous studies have shown that this psychedelic compound holds the potential to treat mental-health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, severe depression and end-of-life anxiety among the terminally ill.
Andreas Met, cofounder of Satya Therapeutics, believes most of his clients come to Oregon from states such as New York, Indiana and Texas to seek treatment for a range of mental-health conditions. In addition, the co-owner of another psilocybin center, Omnia Group Ashland, estimates that roughly 80% of its clients are out-of-state visitors.
Clint Martin, cofounder of The Journey Service Center, revealed that 95% of its customers were also out-of-state visitors. He noted that the center was located 10 minutes from the airport, which made it ideal for the psychedelic tourist.
These entrepreneurs believe that most patients travel to Oregon to take the drug in a safe setting. This is despite the fact that psilocybin treatment is expensive, costing more than $2,000 for an hours long trip.
Accounts from patients who have received the treatment highlight its benefits. One patient, JC Harvey, had been depressed for half his life and also suffered from post-traumatic stress and anxiety. A resident of Oklahoma, Harvey visited Satya Therapeutics with the hope of alleviating his long-standing depression after years trying all manner of conventional treatments with little success.
Having had no prior experience with psychedelics, Harvey was a bit nervous. However, two months after the session, he revealed that he felt completely reborn, noting that all his symptoms of depression as well as PTSD and anxiety were gone.
Harvey is one of many patients who have benefitted from Oregon’s psilocybin program. However, if this alternative treatment is to become more accessible, the price will have to go down significantly.
It is important to note that only individuals aged 21 years and older are allowed to access psilocybin in these regulated settings, under the supervision of a trained facilitator. Additionally, persons with a family or personal history of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are discouraged from undergoing psychedelic treatment.
As psychedelic treatments from startups such as Seelos Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SEEL) gain FDA approval and are released onto the market, they could also attract interest from individuals looking for alternative mental-health treatments.
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