Six Months After Opening, a Northeast Portland Shroom Center Becomes the First to Close

It opened near the airport to draw out-of-state psychedelic customers. But the crowds never materialized.

Jenna Kluwe says she’ll miss helping people heal from trauma (Chris Nesseth)

Despite national hype around Oregon’s legal psilocybin industry, a psychedelic mushroom center in Portland with too few customers has announced it will be the first in the state to shutter.

The Journey Service Center, opened in a former dental clinic in Northeast Portland’s Gateway neighborhood, hosted mushroom trips for more than 100 clients since co-owners Jenna Kluwe and Clint Martin launched in September. Martin says business lagged after a good start in the fall, when Oregon saw a blitz of psilocybin service center openings and national news coverage. (A “service center” is a business that’s licensed to host supervised mushroom trips under Oregon’s Measure 109.)

The pair of entrepreneurs had hoped to make the notoriously expensive service—which costs thousands of dollars per session—affordable by maintaining a steady flow of customers to the large facility, which could serve 10 people a day at a cost of about $2,000 per customer. This year, The Journey saw about 15 clients a month, Martin says. Now, it’s pointing customers with appointments already on the books to another center and putting the 4,000-square-foot building up for sale.

“My eyes were bigger than my stomach,” says Martin, a Utah-based car dealership owner who invested $1.2 million in The Journey.

“I’ve absolutely loved doing this,” Kluwe adds. “The numbers just weren’t where they needed to be.”

The Journey’s retreat from the legal psilocybin market leaves at least 20 licensed mushroom centers in the game, according to an Oregon Health Authority directory.

About 55% of Oregon voters approved Measure 109 in 2020, directing OHA and a network of psychedelic advocates to build the nation’s first legal psilocybin industry. Under Oregon law, adults 21 and over—with some exceptions—can trip at a licensed service center like The Journey under the supervision of a licensed facilitator. Some 2,100 people have taken the psilocybin plunge in these spaces, according to the nonprofit Healing Advocacy Fund.

The nation’s first service center, EPIC Healing Eugene, opened in June to great fanfare. Since then, owner Cathy Jonas and other psilocybin entrepreneurs have said legal risk and expensive state licenses make the cost of doing business extremely high.

That’s meant sky-high prices for customers, which in turn reduced demand, according to both critics and advocates of Oregon’s unique regulations.

Statewide, most customers appear to be out-of-staters seeking treatment for mental health conditions and addiction. That’s the case at The Journey, which Martin intentionally located minutes from Portland International Airport. Meanwhile, the underground mushroom market is flourishing in Oregon and Martin’s native Utah, he says, fed by a glut of psychedelic counselors who charge their clients far less. The mushrooms themselves are easy to produce and grow abundantly in the Pacific Northwest.

Sam Chapman, executive director of the Healing Advocacy Fund, disputed the suggestion that public interest in the legal industry is waning.

“We expect to see over 5,000 clients served by the end of the year, showing that the demand for services continues to rise,” Chapman said in an email.

And while Kluwe says that state regulations make it difficult to run a center, she’s adamant that Measure 109 isn’t a failure.

“I don’t want people to give up hope on the program,” she says.

Martin and Kluwe had jumped on the opportunity to open a center when the Oregon Health Authority opened up the legal psilocybin industry last year.

A shared belief in shroom power united Kluwe, 43, a psychedelic integration coach based in Oregon, and Martin, 51, who lives near Provo, Utah.

Martin had discovered the benefits of magic mushrooms during a difficult departure from the Mormon church about five years ago.

Turning away from the Mormon faith after decades inside was like “having your skeleton pulled out of your body,” he says. Profound experiences with psilocybin helped him chart a new course in life.

When he learned about Measure 109 in Oregon, Martin began searching for a local partner. That’s because, until next year, state regulations require that a service center’s majority owner be an Oregon resident for at least two years.

“He needed an Oregon resident to run it for him,” Kluwe says.

Martin met Kluwe, a former therapist from Michigan, in May at a local psychedelics conference. Kluwe came on board as the 51% owner and director of the service center. Martin bought the former dental clinic in Gateway with cash. Like other state-licensed businesses selling a drug the federal government considers dangerous and illegal, he couldn’t get a federally backed loan. That’s just one part of the financial risk involved in starting a center, he says.

Those economic realities boosted The Journey’s prices. Susanne Ulvi, a licensed facilitator contracted to work at The Journey, says a single shroom trip there would cost clients upwards of $2,100. That includes her fee of $1,333. The Journey would offer discounts—to femme-identifying people for International Women’s Day, for example. Otherwise, the cost for one trip was double the price of a round-trip plane ticket to Bangkok.

One customer, who declined to give her name because she faces personal risk if she were to publicize her use of mushrooms, took the maximum dose available, 50 milligrams of psilocybin. At one point, she envisioned herself floating in a diamond above her driveway. The experience was empowering, she says.

However, the drug wore off unusually fast, and per state regulations, she couldn’t leave the center for another five hours, she says. She described her time at The Journey as “pleasant” but expensive and “underwhelming.”

Martin dreamed of “scaling up” the center like a Walmart, he says. But the clientele never materialized. Martin won’t disclose how much money the business is losing, but says it’s too much for him to weather.

“You have to be able to know when to call it,” Martin says.

Ulvi, the facilitator, says it’s been a slow winter at other service centers, too.

“Nobody seems to be filling their rooms,” she says, adding that The Journey’s closure means she has one less place to work in the legal psilocybin industry.

Kluwe, who runs day-to-day operations at The Journey, is refunding clients and struck a deal with the Beaverton center Fractal Soul to let them trip there for the same price.

Kluwe is proud that she helped bring psilocybin to clients, who came to The Journey seeking relief from anxiety, addiction and trauma. She witnessed people release their fear of death and intergenerational trauma.

“I had chills every time someone got out of there,” Kluwe says. “It was absolutely beautiful. I am so going to miss that.”

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