America's first legal psilocybin therapy center is planning to open its doors any day now, but the cost of admission puts this novel therapy out of reach for all but the wealthiest clients.
Last week, the Oregon Health Authority awarded the state's first legal psilocybin service center license to the Eugene Psychedelic Integrative Center (EPIC). This long-awaited approval is the final step in the process that began when Oregon voters legalized psilocybin-assisted therapy back in 2020. The state’s first wave of licensed trip sitters graduated and received their licenses this March, and regulators approved the state's first psilocybin grower and testing lab last month.
Now that all of the relevant licenses have been granted, adults over the age of 21 will legally be able to consume psilocybin under the watchful eye of a trained facilitator. EPIC is already accepting clients on a waitlist, and plans to open its doors within the coming months. But anyone that signs up for that waitlist is in for some serious sticker shock. The cost of one single high-dose session at the center is almost as high as three months of rent at an average American apartment.
EPIC is charging $3,500 for its highest-dose psilocybin session, which includes a one-hour prep session, a four-hour trip, and a one-hour integration session after the trip. Clients will also need to pay cash for the actual cost of the shrooms themselves, plus an additional 15% state tax. The center also offers cheaper sessions for lower doses, ranging from a $500 “level 1 microdose” session to a $2,800 “medium dose” session.
There are a few cheaper options, though. The center has a donation-funded sliding scale plan, but is currently offering only two sliding scale macro-dose sessions per month and two microdose sessions a week. Group discounts are also available, which can lower the cost of a microdose session to $300 for up to 5 people. Medium dose sessions can be knocked down to $2,300 a head for 2 to 3 people, but there are no group discounts on high-dose sessions.
“There’s a little flexibility with that based on how many services that you want,” said EPIC owner Cathy Jonas, according to VICE. “We really want to not only make this a sustainable practice because it was very expensive to even do this thing, to open it up, but we want to serve people. We want to have fun serving people.”
But even with these lower-priced options, this legal therapy is still vastly more expensive than the illicit alternative. A high dose of black market shrooms will set you back $50 or less, and you can sometimes cop a whole ounce for under $300. And although they don't carry state-issued licenses of authenticity, traditional ayahuasca curanderos in Peru and other South American countries offer their services for as low as $350 a session.
Reggie Harris, founder of Black-owned psychedelic education organization Oakland Hyphae, told VICE that it costs less than a buck to grow half a gram of quality shrooms. “What are we paying for?” he asked. “Are we paying for the 1-2 hours for somebody to sit with you on a microdose? No insurance is paying for this, it’s a straight out-of-pocket cost and it’s price gouging.”
Indeed, all health insurance plans will refuse to cover the cost of psychedelic therapy because the federal government still prohibits the use of psychedelics. One forward-thinking new company, Enthea, plans to provide coverage for psilocybin therapy eventually, but cannot legally do so until the FDA legalizes the therapeutic use of shrooms.