County voters will decide in November whether to ban psilocybin services.
BY ADAM JACKSON
October 21, 2022 – Silo Wellness Inc. (CSE: SILO) (OTCQB: SILFF) inked a binding deal with New Frontier Ranch in Jackson County, Oregon, to set up a new psychedelic resort.
The ranch is a 960-acre property in the Green Springs area, east of Ashland, with swaths of space between existing log cabins and campsites.
“Under Oregon’s tough rural land-use laws, this property is truly a gem that could allow for scaling for psychedelic retreats rather quickly at a lower price point,” said Mike Arnold, Silo Wellness founder and CEO. “Absent full legality and total removal of the dead hand of the government – which is still necessarily present in this emerging market – scaling is the only way to make this industry affordable while ensuring client safety.”
The CEO said that the property has an “abundance of water rights in this drought-stricken portion of our beautiful state” and has court-approved camping spots “with room to expand” due to a grandfathered special court decree.
The deal, however, depends on how county residents vote in the upcoming Nov. 8 election.
More than half of voters across Oregon passed Measure 109 in 2020, which allowed limited use of psilocybin. The measure automatically opted in local governments.
Yet, the statute also gave cities and counties the option to back out before it goes into effect next year. Local officials can ask residents to vote on either a two-year moratorium or a complete ban on psilocybin services altogether.
The Jackson County Commission ultimately chose to refer a ban to residents.
Arnold believes that the county may end up opting out “as it was a very close election in 2020 with only 51.19% voting yes,” he said.
Arnold pointed to swirling concerns around the state’s handling of more recent drug laws.
When Oregon passed The Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act two years ago, also known as Ballot Measure 110, it decriminalized possession of hard drugs and set aside hundreds of millions of dollars for recovery services and treatment.
The results, however, have been mixed so far. Fatal overdoses have risen 20% over the past year, and many treatment programs have not been able to answer the demand as they reel from staffing and funding headwinds.
Because of this, “many rural Oregonians believe they have suffered from increased crime resulting from the now more open and notorious use of hard drugs in their communities,” Arnold said.
“They often believe that the increased demand resulting from the decrease in legal risk from consumption has led to an increase in supply and the criminal consequences of that trade.
“The increased supply to meet this increased demand has to come from somewhere, and it isn’t some bucolic farm – it’s from drug dealers with organized crime connections,” he said.
Additionally, the CEO said that rural residents also didn’t see much of the economic benefits from Oregon’s recreational cannabis ballot measure, because it did not allow county governments to tax cannabis farms, only dispensaries.
“Since most dispensaries are located in cities, they received most of the law enforcement hassle with the farms and the increased vehicular traffic on rural roads and the now ubiquitous smell, but little of the tax benefits,” he said.
Arnold noted that Measure 109 should not fall into the same net of controversy.
“This is a services industry not a product industry,” he said, adding that legal mushroom cultivation is more low-key and consumes much less resources than growing cannabis.
“Additionally, our experience operating legal retreats in Jamaica is that these have about as much community impact as a yoga or quilting retreat,” he said. “They are centered around introspection through meditation, self-reflection, journaling, and group integration. The community impact is just not comparable to the effects of cannabis.”
New Frontier owner-operator David Kaplan echoed the sentiment.
“Living on this property for several years, I see so much potential for the land to be an eco-village destination location totally sustainable with organic agriculture, energy, and building materials,” he said. “The ranch has 287 days of year of sun per year and the most water in the area with ample wind and wood resources.”
Arnold said that Oregon state laws “jealously protect this non-renewable natural resource.”
Kaplan said that his vision for the property is as a “sacred sanctuary” for holistic health and wellness.
“Mushroom therapy is just one potential component of a much larger plan for rejuvenation and wellness.”