What Qualifications Must One Have to Be Hired as a Psilocybin Guide?

It’s a bit like becoming a bartender, except everything is harder.

Psilocybin mushrooms. (Picasa)

Psilocybin will soon be used in Oregon to treat PTSD, addictions, etc. with a guide/facilitator present while treatment is administered. What qualifications must one have to be hired as the guide? If I feel that I could be an excellent employee in this regard, who would I contact to apply for a job? —'60s Retired Lawyer

No offense to you, Lawyer, but I can’t shake the fear that the job the state calls “psilocybin services facilitator,” or PSF, will inevitably attract—in addition, mind you, to many qualified applicants—a healthy share of exactly the people who should never be allowed to do it. (My initial worry was that Oregon’s PSFs would be drawn from the ranks of creepy dudes at the hot springs who run around offering people back rubs.)

The basic requirements don’t do much to assuage such concerns: You just need to be 21, with a high school diploma and no criminal record, and to have lived in Oregon for at least two years. That seems like a pretty low bar. Fortunately, there’s a fairly stiff licensing portion that should keep the worst of the Pauly Shores and Jeff Spicolis at bay.

From a regulatory standpoint, becoming a PSF is a bit like becoming a bartender, except everything is harder. Instead of a state-approved alcohol server education class that lasts four hours and costs $40, you take a state-approved PSF training course that lasts 120 hours and costs around $9,000. In both cases, this is followed by a licensing exam (though, as you might imagine, the PSF exam is more rigorous than the famously brain-dead alcohol server test).

Once they’re licensed, both bartenders and PSFs will go to work at a privately owned, state-licensed facility, each serving up their wares to their respective clients in accordance with state regulations. The only difference is that bartenders don’t have to pay an annual $2,000 licensing fee. (Also, PSFs see only one person at a time, it’s not the same person every night, and sometimes it actually helps.)

Is all this time and money worth it? Given that the sessions are expected to cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars—and, obviously, won’t be covered by insurance—I find it hard to believe there’ll really be enough rich people to keep all the currently training PSFs busy. (Then again, I also can’t believe people have $10,000 a year to go to Burning Man, yet somehow it keeps happening. Maybe it’s the same people.)

Questions? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com.

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