Psilocybin Regulator in Oregon Resigns Following Accusations of Conflict of Interest

Psilocybin Regulator Resigns Following Conflict of Interest - GCI Content Hub - Global Cannabis Intelligence

The chair of a board advising on the legalization of psilocybin in Oregon has resigned after being accused of conflicts of interest, standing to profit financially from the regulations he is helping create.

Tom Eckert resigned from his position to protect the integrity of the board, The Guardian reports. Having spearheaded the campaign for the psilocybin ballot, Eckert also founded a company dedicated to training psilocybin therapists.

Oregon is legalizing psilocybin

Oregon voted to legalize the therapeutic use of psilocybin – the active psychedelic ingredient in ‘magic mushrooms’ – in 2020.

The vote to legalize arose from growing evidence that psilocybin is an effective treatment for a plethora of mental health conditions including treatment-resistant depression, substance use disorders and anxiety.

Following this, the state governor commissioned an advisory board to make non-binding recommendations to health authorities to assist in the creation of this psychedelic reform for implementation in January 2023.

The Board Chair’s resignation

After it was agreed that the advisory board would formally disclose personal and financial conflicts of interest, a number of board members – including Eckert – admitted intentions to pursue business ventures in the industry.

In conversation with the Guardian, Tom Eckert states that industry involvement contributes valuable perspectives and experience by enabling useful connections to people, information and resources.

Alongside patients and clinical experts, the industry’s perspective is important, Eckert explains, to build robust regulation that enables the effective distribution of psilocybin therapy across the state.

Ethical implications of industry regulation

The controversy surrounding conflicts of interest among regulators has brought ethical concerns to the forefront of the conversation surrounding the legalization of psilocybin in Oregon.

Campaigners are calling on regulators to ensure that low-income and BIPOC communities are not denied entry to the psilocybin economy, resulting from systemic inequities. Last week a state senate committee voted to appoint a task force to examine barriers faced by ethnic minorities engaging in psilocybin-related commerce.

As a nascent industry, all eyes are on Oregon to utilise the opportunity to ensure that social justice and equity measures are built into the emerging psychedelic sector.

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