Psilocybin for Mental Wellness: Legality in Oregon, How to Microdose & Safety Tips for Psychedelics
Waves are moving throughout Oregon with the passing of Measure 109, an initiative that allows the creation of a program for the medicinal use of psilocybin - a tryptamine alkaloid found in 200+ species of mushrooms, most notably the “magic mushrooms” of the Psilocybe species. With microdosing, psychedelics and psilocybin growing in popularity in this “new renaissance” of psychedelic research - a general interest has been inspired for new avenues of dealing with the epidemics of anxiety and depression that plague the United States. More than one out of five people suffer from a mental illness, and suicide is shockingly the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. with an average of preventable 130 fatalities per day countrywide. In over 2/3 of the cases of death from suicide, severe depression is found to be the cause.
This is a loss of life that is preventable with awareness, access to treatment and an acknowledgement that mental illness is as serious of a concern as any other medical condition, and often leads to far more disability and suffering.
So what does this have to do with psychedelics, psilocybin or microdosing? These sacred medicines which have been used for healing purposes for millennia may offer solutions for the most characteristic disease of civilization; a feeling of loss of connection - a loss of meaning in one’s life, and the general malaise that pervades the life of many. The shamanic traditions called this illness “loss of soul” but today we may call it depression or burnout. Although psychedelics like psilocybin are by no means a quick fix to these issues, I have no doubt that they can be a priceless tool when used in the proper context and with the intention of healing.
Now let’s get into the mycelium of it by answering some common questions about psilocybin legality and microdosing in Oregon...
1) **Is Psilocybin or Microdosing Legal in Oregon?**
Short answer: Yes and No. As of the date of writing this article, psilocybin is classified as a Schedule One drug on the federal level, putting it in the same class as heroin and basically every other psychedelic substance that you can think of - including even cannabis. This scheduling means that there is a high risk of abuse, no medical usage and that it is unsafe even when medically supervised. This is of course is blatantly false - but let’s not get into the morality or even the reasonability of the “war on drugs” particularly those plants with long histories of use therapeutically.
Before Measure 109 the State of Oregon laws also made psilocybin illegal, but the passing of Measure 109 this past November will allow for use of Psilocybin as therapy in those at least 21 years of age if received through a facility or practitioner that is licensed to do so. As of this writing Measure 109 is in the process being implemented - meaning the regulations, education requirements, licensing and details surrounding psilocybin therapies are in the works. Estimations are that Psilocybin therapy will be available by the beginning of 2023.
But as of right now psilocybin is not federally legal, and because no facilities have been accredited yet to administer psilocybin - there is no legal way to receive psilocybin as a therapy (outside of clinical trials/research). With all that said, you may have heard that Oregon also voted in the controversial measure 110 - which decriminalized the personal use and possession of small amounts of scheduled substances & drugs. I highly recommend reading up on these 2 measures if you are an Oregonian interested in psychedelics, and I am planning to write an in-depth article on the details of measure 109 as it comes closer to fruition.
The short of Measure 109 is that it allows for “licensed facilitators” to administer psilocybin therapy after receiving special training (which is currently being devised, and under many safety regulations. Interestingly, this measure did not limit this ability to apply as a licensed psilocybin facilitator to any particular profession (healthcare or otherwise) - which is a big hurray for freedom, but also may be a sticking point in the coming years. Especially if the training is inadequate to prevent unforeseen adverse mental events, the occurrence of even a few of which could throw the whole psychedelic movement back into the stone age.
You can read more about the specific legislation of Measure 109 and how psilocybin therapy is being brought to the people of Oregon:
**Please note that I am not a lawyer, nor is any of this article any type of legal counsel - please be wise and stay safe**
2) **Can Microdosing Benefit Anxiety or Depression?**
Although the research is quite young on microdosing in particular, there are a lot of takeaways for how microdosing can be done in the safest and most effective manner - which we will address in this article - for a theoretical person, or perhaps “your cat”? But a disclaimer first...
** This article is for educational purposes and is not a recommendation to either use or not use psilocybin, to microdose or to take any psychedelic. **
Ever since that fabled spilling of coffee on the lap, one can never be too careful when it comes to common sense disclaimers. If you didn't catch the reference let’s just say a place we’ll call “McDougals” had an incident where a customer spilled hot coffee on themselves and received severe burns, so proceeded to sue "McDougals" for having a “defectively hot” coffee. Surprisingly this customer won nearly a million dollars in the lawsuit. So if you wondered where that warning on your coffee cup comes from - that warns you that the very hot beverage you specifically ordered, is in fact very hot- now you know.
What is Microdosing & What is the Research Behind it?
First let’s explore what “microdosing” is in general, and what it means particularly for psilocybin. Typically when psychedelics were taken in shamanic cultures for healing, or by flower children of the 60’s, they were taken in quite high doses - enough to create visual changes, alter one's sense of reality, cause “ego death” or temporary ego dissolution - the loss of a sense of separation from self and other, - to lead to what colloquially is known as a “trip”.
Microdosing is something much newer, as typically a microdose does not cause a “trip”, nor diminish your functionality - this is because a microdose is around 1/10th of the dose that would cause a “psychedelic experience”. Widespread use of microdosing psychedelics for cognitive enhancement, creativity or productivity has become mainstream in certain circles (silicon valley being a notable example) - and there are several studies showing that there actually may be something to those uses.
Research on psychedelics such as psilocybin and MDMA in large doses have shown much potential and almost miraculous effects for some in helping with depression, anxiety, and even PTSD - but research on microdosing psilocybin or other psychedelics is far more rare. What can be picked from the research literature on microdosing psilocybin or LSD is that these microdoses seems to increase “lateral thinking” - whether that be creative ways to solve problems or new perspectives on old issues, microdosing seems to increase that mode of thinking, which is likely a large part of its potential benefits on the mind.
There is also some evidence that microdosing can help relieve some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression on the days of microdosing, however one should be aware that the research also points out that in some cases there can also be short periods of increased anxiety - so microdosing is not without potential risks for some.
Overall, microdosing seems to be a very promising option for those who are struggling with the “loss of soul” as mentioned earlier. Oftentimes the kind of conceptual and habitual traps of the mind are at the root of suffering, and new perspectives and creative thinking or behaviors seem to be one of the most important solutions to those kinds of problems.
Is Microdosing Psilocybin Safe When Taking Medications?
Psilocybin binds to serotonin receptors, as do many of the classical psychedelics such as LSD, with a very high affinity (meaning that it binds very strongly and produces a larger effect) which is thought to be the primary mechanism by which it alters mood and consciousness. For that reason, microdosing may have potential risks when combined with other medications (especially MAOI's or Serotonin effecting drugs) and there is not much research on those interactions - so make sure to speak with a mental health provider if you take any medications.
The difficulty of this is that most mental health providers either don’t know much about the subject of psychedelics as therapy, or they are afraid of the legal implications of giving advice in this area. This seems somewhat nonsensical to me - as if psilocybin truly is illegal or taboo because of potential dangers, then it would beg to reason that educating the public about safe use would be a great service- if they were planning on using a psychedelic regardless. While psilocybin in high doses does potentially have some psychological risk, especially for those with histories or family members with schizophrenia - from a physical health standpoint psilocybin is remarkably safe.
How safe is Psilocybin?
The LD50 of psilocybin (the dose at which 50% of lab mice die from the researched substance) is so high that it is difficult to conceptualize. Assuming that you weigh about 150 pounds it could take upwards of NINE THOUSAND grams of dried psilocybin mushrooms to have a 50/50 shot of a lethal overdose on psilocybin. To put this into perspective, the famous psychonaut and western shaman of psychedelics - Terrence Mckenna - called 5 dried grams of mushrooms a “heroic dose” - the dose at which intense and vivid visions arise, and one is fully in the psychedelic space with no turning back for several hours. The primary risk of high doses of psilocybin or any psychedelic for that matter, is mainly psychological - however in terms of physical impacts on the body are among the safest psychoactive substances that exist.
Microdosing psilocybin usually involves less than even ONE gram of dried mushrooms - so from a physiological safety standpoint microdosing is FAR safer than most of the over the counter pills in the cupboard, alcohol, and even caffeine! I almost forgot to mention - the studies on the LD50 of psilocybin were with IV (Intravenous) psilocybin administration, with a needle straight into the blood of lab mice - which drastically increases the amount of substance in the body compared to oral ingestion.
**How to Microdose with Psilocybin**
So we went through the legality of psilocybin, the safety of microdosing, how psilocybin may be useful for mental health and now we get to a question that I am asked so often by clients that I decided it was time to write an article.
The amount of what constitutes a “microdose” is a very individual thing, based on what one is seeking from the experience, the unique brain of the person, and their experience with psychedelics or other mind altering substances in general - with that said here are some general tips for anyone seeking to see if the microdosing may benefit their mental wellness.
1) Microdosing is all about the dose, a little too high and one may get into the “trip” range - which can be unpleasant if one is not expecting it - and a little too low and it doesn’t seem to do anything to help.
There is some debate on what is the optimal microdose of dried psilocybin mushrooms are, but generally 1/10th of a full “trip” dose is used as a guideline for microdosing any psychedelic. So with our heroic dose set at 5g, that would mean about ½ a gram is the peak of a microdose - when you get beyond a gram it becomes increasingly more of a psychedelic experience, and less of a subtle microdose. Much below ½ gram is generally agreed to be ideal, especially for those that have never used psilocybin before - a starting point for microdosing.
Each person will have a different ideal microdose between that 0.1-0.5g range, and it depends a great deal on the potency of that particular mushroom, how it was stored and other factors - so erring on the side of caution in the microdosers often stay in the 0.1-0.2g range. One can be surprised how much even this small amount can be quite noticable. Finding the ideal microdose takes some experimentation and requires a weight scale that can measure below gram ranges. A general framework is to start at the lowest of the range and then stop at the amount in which it begins to become noticeable, but far before it becomes even a very mild “trip”.
2) There is no agreement about how often one can or would want to microdose as the research is slight in that particular area - but many would agree that ideally microdosing isn’t done every day or even multiple times in a day, but is done every other day, or “one day on and two days off”.
This is to maximize noticeable benefit and prevent tolerance. Usually microdosing is not done for very long periods of time but periods of a few weeks at a time. It seems reasonable to think of microdosing as a potential tool in helping find the solution, rather than being the solution itself. In the path of true healing there is rarely an easy or quick route, despite what many medication marketers would lead one to believe.
3) *This is an important tip for psychedelics in general, especially in higher doses: Make sure you are in a safe, comfortable and pleasant environment on days of microdosing.
Because psilocybin even in the microdose range can heighten the senses and increase the experience of emotions - being in unpleasant scenarios or areas where you feel unsafe or generally anxious is not a good idea as these feelings can be heightened beyond what one would normally experience.
If you are microdosing for the first time, spending time with a close friend, snuggling in at home reading a good book, or going for a walk in your favorite nature area during the day really make a world of difference in the microdose experience. If for example where you work gives you intense anxiety, or certain people bring a lot of negativity into your space - it is best to stay clear of those areas or people on days of microdosing.
4) For those truly seeking healing this tip may be the most crucial for microdosing- set your intentions for your microdose and contemplate them:
What do you need guidance on, or what do you hope it will bring for you?
And in the days before a dose - journal, read, meditate or contemplate what on what you hope to heal or have insight on. On days when not microdosing, reflecting on your experience during the days you microdosed: how it they were different, lessons learned and aim to apply the insights you gained in these experiences to your everyday life. This sums up some of the essential things to know about microdosing safely and with longer lasting benefits to mental wellness. Just remember, if you ever feel afraid - simply surrender to the experience and understand that it will pass if you allow yourself to breathe deeply, and think of the things that you love most.
Thank you for reading, I hope this was informative and interesting for you! It is my pleasure to help educate about the potential of these wonderful entheogens, which have long histories of use- and are returning to our culture for the benefit of all those that seek what these sacred medicines have to offer them. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out at the number listed on this website, and if you would like to learn more about safely microdosing, using psychedelics or how to get the most out of your experiences you know where to find me - I am glad to be of service!
Dr. Bogdan Makartchuk, ND
Practicing in Portland, OR
Holistic Psyche Natural Care Clinic
Natural Therapies for Anxiety, Depression & Chronic Diseases
Schedule a Free Mental Wellness Consult or Psychedelic Integration Guidance:
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