Cathy Rosewell Jonas is a licensed clinical social worker in Eugene. Eight years ago, she went to Peru with a friend and took ayahuasca with a local shaman, hoping that the psychedelic brew would help reveal her life’s purpose.
The trip confirmed she was a healer and that she should expand her practice to include plant medicines. If the hoops she’s had to jump through, and the money she’s had to spend, are any indication of her commitment, her ayahuasca experience must’ve been profound.
Jonas has been working for more than a year to become both a facilitator for sessions using psilocybin mushrooms and the owner of a “psilocybin service center,” the antiseptic-sounding place where she can guide people on psychedelic, healing journeys.
Oregonians voted to make psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, legal for regulated use in 2020. University studies showed that just one trip could help patients quit drinking or taking drugs, lift them out of depression, and help them face death with grace.
But anyone expecting psychedelics therapists to pop like mushrooms after a soaking rain are mistaken, Jonas says. The byzantine regulations around psilocybin require fortitude, patience and cash. She would know. She’s one of the first people in Oregon to try and navigate them, and she’s been putting out candid progress reports on YouTube under the name of her practice, EPIC Healing Eugene.
“They have really made this hard,” Jonas, 56, says. “My husband would be thrilled if I didn’t want to do this anymore.”
One of the biggest criticisms of Oregon’s psilocybin program, run by the Oregon Health Authority, is that guided therapy sessions will be unaffordable for most people because of the costs involved. Jonas’ experience confirms that. If she manages to open her service center, she says she’ll have to charge $3,000 a session to break even. “I’m not trying to make money.”
Jonas’ expenses started with the $9,000 she paid for facilitator training. That wrapped up last weekend. But becoming a facilitator is a bargain compared with opening a service center. Applying to open one costs $500. The annual license fee is $10,000. Jonas got a bid for liability insurance recently: $12,000. She expects to spend $4,500 on security cameras and a service to monitor the system. She will have to pay another facilitator to be on call during psychedelic sessions, in case she has to step out for any reason.
The rules are nothing if not thorough. Service centers must have safes for storing psilocybin. “‘Safe’ means a fireproof metal cabinet with a mechanical or electronic combination lock that is capable of storing psilocybin products and weighs at least 375 pounds,” OHA’s rules say.
So far, Jonas is sticking with it. She gets overwhelmed at times, but then she remembers the promise of psychedelics, and she goes back to her checklist—and her checkbook.