After 15 years, why was it time to finally take Horizons on the road?
Since 2007, Horizons has held its annual psychedelics conference in New York City. What was once a single-day event at Judson Memorial Church, hosting just a couple hundred attendees, has, in those fifteen intervening years, grown into a four-day conference complete with classes and spanning two historic venues – The New York Academy of Medicine and The Great Hall at The Cooper Union – and now, two states. In September, Horizons is coming to Portland, Oregon, at The Portland Art Museum.
Why Horizons is Hosting a Conference in Oregon
An historic experiment is about to begin: the introduction of the first-ever model for legally-regulated adult psychedelic use in Western society. The Oregon Psilocybin Services Act will give birth to an industry, complete with service centers, training academies, manufacturers – and, of course, clients. The bill was a community effort, and its successful implementation will also depend on the community.
And so, as the day of rollout approaches, there is a need for knowledge, clarity, and community connections among all levels of local involvement.
The intention of Horizons Northwest is to support Oregon by offering a robust forum for conversation and community-building. As the legislation sits on a kind of interdisciplinary super-nexus of legal, political, economic, scientific, ethical and psychospiritual concerns, the discourse should reflect this.
And this is what Horizons does best. The conference has made itself a trusted presence in the psychedelic field in no small part because of the excellence of its content: presenters are curated each year to speak to the ever-evolving landscape of psychedelic research and culture – a process that is invite-only, and stage time is never sold.
The second contributing factor, of course, is the people. The community that has grown up around the conference has been correspondingly thoughtful and engaged. For this reason, the Horizons Northwest conference has been organized in partnership with the Sheri Eckert Foundation, a local Portland nonprofit established to honor the memory of Sheri Eckert – one of the co-creators of Measure 109 – with the goal of creating equitable access to psychedelic education and services.
The Program and Speakers
The four-day program is designed to address various audiences and topics in order to help the public navigate the involved and uncertain topography of Measure 109 and 110.
Thursday, September 15, is dedicated to topics around entrepreneurship, including service centers, training academies, and manufacturing – those roles that the Act delegates to the private sector. Angela Allbee, Manager of the OHA’s Oregon Psilocybin Services Section, will kick off the day with the fundamentals of the Act, focusing on the establishment, licensing, and compliance of private organizations and businesses. Speakers will ponder the question: What will it take to build organizations of service to the public within the strictures of the Act?
Friday, September 16, is focused on the science around psilocybin-containing mushrooms. What are the latest research and conceptual advances? How do they help us work skillfully within the Oregon model to catalyze healing and growth? And what special role might Oregon have to play in the advancement of research? Paul Stamets, renowned mycologist, will address recent findings into the beneficial properties of psilocybin-containing fungi.
Saturday, September 17, is the Psilocybin in Oregon day. The goal is to educate the public about Measures 109 and 110 – what they do and do not do – and to provide an opportunity for dialogue among various local speakers. Confusion still exists regarding the implications and implementation of these Acts, and clear knowledge and open conversation are needed in order to ensure the success of Oregon’s new model.
Sunday, September 18, will look beyond Oregon and the clinical model of psychedelic therapy to how psychedelics are used by Indigenous communities and the North American psychedelic subculture. This day is about the big picture. Among other speakers, Belinda Eriacho, a wisdom carrier of Dine’ (Navajo) and A:shiwi (Pueblo of Zuni) descent, will share her perspectives on psychedelic practices, as well as the story of the Church of the Eagle and the Condor, of which she is a founding member.
Hopes for Oregon
There is no precedent for the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act. It will become the precedent. What happens in the next few years, therefore, will be important in ways no one yet fully understands. It is going to take a great deal of people working together to pull it off.
The hope driving the conference is that this will be possible to do safely, accessibly, and meaningfully. Many local groups and individuals have been engaged in this work for a long time, and a large-scale in-person event has the potential to strengthen these existing relationships, to create new ones, and perhaps, as consequence, to make Oregon even more of a center for those seeking supportive conversations around healing, psychedelics, and drug policy work.
This post is part of a 2022 media sponsorship with Psychedelics Today.