Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission warned Myco-Method, one of the state’s many psychedelic training programs, last week that it would be shut down if Myco-Method continues to defy a cease-and-desist order issued in May.
“Should you continue to operate and/or advertise to students, we will pursue the remedies available under Oregon law,” Veronica Dujon, HECC’s director of academic policy and authorization said in an email to Myco-Method founder Shasta Winn on Friday.
Myco-Method continues to advertise its curriculum on its website, myco-method.com.
HECC’s ultimatum came at the end of a long thread of emails with Dujon in which Winn challenged the state’s authority to regulate Myco-Method because it is a curriculum only, and one that is offered by a religious organization called Saba Cooperative, making it exempt from regulation by HECC.
“We are an interfaith itinerant religious organization,” Winn says in one of her emails.
On its website, Rhododendron-based Saba Cooperative describes itself as a decentralized autonomous organization that seeks “to incubate and network self-governing nomadic, homestead, and maker-space communities that agree to be ‘green’ (ecologically sustainable) and ‘cool’ (nonaggressive).”
Myco-Method asks for a “financial contribution” of $5,000 to participate in its psychedelic training: $200 for its online course; $3,300 for 30 hours of live calls, and $1,500 for residency and a practicum, which includes food and lodging at a four-day retreat.
Myco-Method is one of 22 organizations approved by the Oregon Health Authority to train facilitators who sit with subjects while they experience psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms. Facilitators must be trained in one of the OHA-approved programs in order to practice legally.
The schools also must be approved by the HECC. Students graduating from unapproved schools may facilitate mushroom trips if they pass a state exam, but without HECC approval, students aren’t allowed to submit claims to the state for lost tuition if the school closes.
So far, there are far more schools than service centers, the regulated sites where people are allowed to take legal mushroom trips. Only six service centers have been approved, creating a bottleneck in a system that was supposed to make psilocybin available to people seeking relief from depression, PTSD and substance abuse.
In the email thread, which copied a WW reporter in real time, Winn threatened HECC for not handling Myco-Method’s application to become certified in a timely manner.
“I have requested that both OHA and OPEN (Oregon Psilocybin Equity Nexus) formally investigate our case and your lack of response to our requests,” Winn wrote. “My hope is within the next week you will make a formal statement to the media clarifying the honest facts of the situation, and that Myco-Method is not out of compliance, HECC is. If I do not receive a response on how this will be resolved fairly within the week, I will be going to the national press about our story and the unethical actions of the HECC.”
Winn also challenges HECC’s authority to regulate psilocybin at all.
“If you are intending to hold us ‘accountable to the law,’ for having OHA approve our religious facilitator training that is offered worldwide, and has First Amendment protections, who is holding you responsible for aiding and abetting the commission of a federally criminal industry, and coercing organizations into federally illegal licensing contracts? If no one is holding you accountable, and you are ‘above the law,’ there is no way we can ethically contract with you. And I will tell all that to a judge.”
On Friday, near the end of the exchange, HECC’s Dujon appears exasperated.
“Beginning on March 3, 2023, and through May 23, 2023, four members of our staff have sent you over ninety emails, and engaged in numerous phone conversations with you to explain the school application and licensing process,” Dujon writes. “In addition, I have offered to meet with you and your representatives as recently as yesterday.”
Still outstanding for Myco-Method, Dujon writes, are proof of adequate capital reserves to cover operations for the first year and a plan for covering expenses in the second year.
“Once we have reviewed that information to determine that your school is financially viable, we will require that you pay the nonrefundable application fee so you can proceed with processing your new school application,” Dujon writes.