The decriminalization of psychedelics in Canada is arguably the next logical step after the legalization of cannabis. However, drug reform was not a major highlight of the most recent Canadian elections. To be fair, it almost never is. Nevertheless, it continues to disappoint to see major political parties yet again ignore the popularity and potential […]
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Psychedelics drugs are making a major comeback, and attracting mainstream attention, with more than one on the brink of legalization. Psychedelics have shown the ability for mind expansion, in a way that promotes better mental health on many fronts. But while medical psychedelics are the focus of the above-board world, party drugs are still quite popular, representing the other side of psychedelics.
Party drugs like psychedelics are a big thing in the club scene, but they’re not for everyone. Some people prefer a more relaxing drug like cannabis. For the hardcode cannabis aficionados out there, there are more options available than ever. Take delta-8 THC for example, no one knew what this alternate form of THC was a few years ago, and now, this milder version, which doesn’t create the same anxiety, is available all over the place. We’ve got great deals for delta-8 THC along with delta-9 THC, THCV, THCP, delta 10, HHC, THC-O, so go ahead, and check out our always-updated selections.
A bit about psychedelic drugs
Psychedelic drugs are a subset of hallucinogens, which fall under the category of psychoactive drugs. Unlike other drugs in the ‘psychoactive’ category, hallucinogens cause people to experience things that don’t actually exist, like seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or feeling something that isn’t real. Psychedelics are also known for producing other effects, like spiritual experiences, feelings of connectedness between people and the universe, euphoria, and feelings of well-being.
Psychedelics are known for altering mood, perception, and cognitive abilities. They are also known for producing life-changing experiences, in which users have insightful encounters into life and consciousness. These drugs can be found in nature, like with magic mushrooms and DMT, or made in a laboratory like acid, MDMA, or ketamine.
Though psychedelics have been found to be generally safe, and not a factor for death and disability, it is possible to have bad experiences with them. Often called a ‘bad trip’, a user can experience negative hallucinations, as well as physical symptoms like nausea and vomiting, chills, erratic heartbeat, raised blood pressure, dizziness, anxiety, and paranoia. Getting the dose correct is important for these drugs, with proper dosing correcting the majority of these issues. Other factors play in as well, like where the drug is being taken.
Psychedelics have been around for a long time, and researchers have found evidence of psychedelic use in different parts of Mesoamerica, as well as the Near East, among other locations. In Mesoamerica, drugs like ayahuasca, psilocybin from magic mushrooms, and bufotoxins from toad skin, were used among other compounds, by different tribes including the Olmecs, Mayans, Aztecs, and Zapotecs. In the near East, Viper’s Bugloss was found in the Kamid el-Loz Temple in Lebanon, as well as Blue Water Lily extract, which was found in none other than Tutankhamun’s tomb. The former is a potent hallucinogen, and the latter is a narcotic with psychedelic properties.
Party drugs – a different side of psychedelics
The thing about substances that make a person feel good, connected to other people and the universe, spiritual, and with heightened and altered perception, is that it can lead to mind-expanding experiences. But it can also lead to simply wanting to feel good.
This is the case with drugs like MDMA (or its less pure form, ecstasy), and ketamine, among others. In the same way that some people use the drugs to find spiritual or personal clarity in their lives, some people use them to have intense experiences at parties, or with others. Since most of the drugs used for this purpose are synthetic, they’re often dubbed, ‘designer drugs’, or ‘club drugs’. Other drugs like GHB, LSD, cocaine and amphetamine are also included in the category of ‘club drugs’.
The trend of party drugs in the form of psychedelics got big in the rave scene of the 1980s, spurred on by the growing popularity of rave events, EDM parties, and the general dance club scene. Since ‘club drugs’ can encompass different classes of drugs, legalization policies are specific to each drug. While psychedelics don’t pose the same risk as drugs like cocaine or amphetamine, where overdose and death are possible, psychedelics like MDMA have been known to cause dehydration due to all night partying without enough water consumption. This seems to be the biggest complaint.
What is ecstasy?
Ecstasy is interesting because it’s one of the most popular party drugs of the psychedelic variety, but actually denotes nothing more than an impure form of MDMA, one of the up-and-coming medical psychedelics. The names can be interchangeable, including the term ‘molly’, but ecstasy can also mean non-pure versions wherein the MDMA is mixed with other chemicals, leading to lower purity, and possible side effects from the added compounds.
Whether pure or not, and regardless of the name used, the basis for anything with one of those names, is 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine. This compound is not naturally occurring, and was created in a laboratory in 1912 by Merck Pharmaceutical, and patented in 1914, in an attempt to create a medication to stop bleeding. It wasn’t well understood until way later in the 1970’s when chemist Alexander Shulgin found a new way to synthesize the compound, which led to him experimenting on himself along with some close friends.
Around this time, it started being used the way LSD had, as a part of psychedelic-assisted therapy. Even though it showed usefulness for psychiatric issues back then, it was promptly illegalized in 1985 with Reagan’s Comprehensive Crime Control Act, which ended all therapeutic uses of the drug.
The compound was investigated by the CIA and the US army during the cold war, for use as a psychological weapon. The CIA started the program MK-Ultra to investigate psychedelics like MDMA for mind control purposes. The project was known for experimenting on non-consenting subjects.
Somewhere along the way, it entered the party scene. In a way, it’s similar to THC-O-Acetate, which was also a part of secret military studies, and which also randomly appeared as a street drug around the time of this military testing. Though this doesn’t mean it was put out by the military, (perhaps as a secondary ‘street study’), it certainly implies the possibility, and the same can be said for the appearance of MDMA and other psychedelics.
Somehow these compounds which the government felt the need to do highly secretive, and often non-consenting testing on, all appeared on the street without any kind of information or market behind them. By the 1980’s ecstasy was being called out in a San Francisco Chronicle article as being “the yuppie psychedelic.” It received this name because it was thought of as being slightly less intense and dangerous, as the already popular LSD.
In 2017, MDMA was given the ‘breakthrough therapy’ designation by the FDA, for PTSD treatments. This designation came at the request of the organization MAPS (Multi-Disciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), as that is how these designations are assigned. MAPS is currently in phase III of trials using MDMA for PTSD, in which these 3rd trials were planned in conjunction with the FDA, to ensure that study results meet all regulation.
While MDMA is one of the current leading compounds when it comes to medical psychedelics, it’s also one of the most popular party drugs of both psychedelics and other classes, making it popular both for those who want spiritual and mind-enhancing experiences, and those who want to get-down all night.
The legality of psychedelics
Psychedelics are generally illegal in the US, and the rest of the world. They sit in Schedule I of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, though in many cases when it comes to natural forms, like magic mushrooms, the laws are inconsistent, often illegalizing the compounds inside (psilocybin and psilocin), but leaving the mushrooms themselves as legal. The Convention came into effect in 1971.
For its part, the US began its smear campaign against psychedelics in the 1960’s, using the drugs as a way to redirect attention from the Vietnam war, and the senseless violence and mounting deaths that came from it. In 1968, the Staggers-Dodd bill was passed which specifically illegalized LSD and psilocybin. This was followed up in 1970 by the inclusion of multiple substances in Schedule I of the DEA’s Controlled Substances list via the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. A year later it was followed up again internationally by the Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
This was stepped up a notch in 1984 when then-president Ronald Reagan, signed into legislation the Comprehensive Crime Control Act which allowed for the emergency banning of drugs by the government. What did this do? The following year, when the topic of MDMA came up, it was able to be immediately illegalized, without medical research, or anything else. When this happened, it went against a judicial decision to allow MDMA as a Schedule II substance. Funny enough, MDMA is one of the drugs getting close to a medical legalization today.
To give an idea of the real nature of why these illegalizations happened, in 1994, the following statement came from John Ehrlichman, the guy who had served as the Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs under former president Nixon. He said this about the war on drugs and why it was being fought:
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
Things do change however, and esketamine was legalized in 2019 as the first non-monoamine anti-depressant, which works so quickly, it was even cleared for suicidal thoughts in 2020, a diagnosis that would require a very fast-acting medication. Along with that, the compound DXM can be found in cough medicines all over the country, requiring nothing at all to buy, not even being 18 years old, (or at least not in any kind of enforced way). Both Psilocybin from magic mushrooms and MDMA have been identified with the aforementioned ‘breakthrough therapy’ title by the FDA, a designation given to compounds being studied by companies, that present a possibly better alternative to current treatments. This designation is meant specifically to speed up products to market.
When we talk about the possible legalization of MDMA, this only covers medical use. The idea that party drugs would be legalized just because medical psychedelics are, is unfortunately, not the case. The party drugs scene will almost certainly continue, likely spurred on by any legalization that might occur, but it will remain below-board, as part of the black market scene. Will this change in the future? Perhaps. Some places like Denver, and the state of Oregon, have decriminalized psychedelic use. Other states like Michigan and California, are already introducing recreational policies. These laws may not go though, but with esketamine legal medically, and psilocybin and MDMA on the way, the world is definitely becoming a way more psychedelic place.
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.
In a September 14 press release, Wesana Health Holdings Inc. announced its commitment to fund $1.5 million to assess the efficacy of Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) MDMA-assisted therapy to treat traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The funding will allow MAPS Public Benefit Corporation (MAPS PBC) to activate a team to evaluate the scope of the lack of resources needed for TBI treatment.
“Wesana is a serious, thoughtful and ethical company engaged in the development of psychedelic-assisted therapy. What Daniel and his team are doing is in line with MAPS’ ethics, mission, values and scientific rigor, and we believe together, MAPS and Wesana can bring much needed help to the massively underserved TBI population. Data collected from MAPS-sponsored Phase 3 clinical trials suggests that MDMA-assisted therapy appears promising in the treatment of TBI. Consistent with our mission, we seek to investigate treatments for affected patients who can be helped by MDMA—this is an important step in that direction” said MAPS Executive Director Rick Doblin, Ph.D.
Lately, MAPS research zeroed in on MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD. The first of two Phase 3 trials demonstrated a “clinically significant reduction” in PTSD symptoms for 88 percent of participants.
Existing research suggests that MDMA improved cognitive function in mice with minimal TBI. Like PTSD, TBI can have a profound impact on mental health. Research indicates that there is a disproportionate impact for people of color.
Over 6.2 million Americans are estimated to have chronic TBI-related disabilities, not to mention the symptoms that are more mild but also impact daily life. Nearly 414,000 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans had a TBI.
“The work MAPS has done for more than 35 years with regulators and clinical researchers to navigate the rigorous and necessary FDA approval process for MDMA therapeutic use has positioned psychedelic-assisted therapy on the precipice of national—and global—acceptance,” Daniel Carcillo, CEO of Wesana Health said. “The millions of people afflicted with PTSD may soon have access to MDMA therapy, and we believe the millions suffering from TBI may experience similar relief in the future.”
This collaboration between MAPS and Wesana will boost MAPS PBC’s research timelines and provide additional support for further research, advocacy, education and equitable access to MDMA-assisted therapy treatments.
Wesana outlined five key goals:
- Gain expertise and information to design psychedelic-assisted therapy programs for TBI and improve the Wesana timeline and path to market for its treatments
- Explore obtaining an exclusive commercial license to use MDMA for the treatment of TBI
- Evaluate the viability of revenue share agreements between the organizations
- Adapt MAPS’ equitable access research projects to develop a meaningful patient access program
- Fund associated research, administered by MAPS PBC, with additional capital
Beyond MDMA, MAPS Pushes Psychedelic Research Forward
MAPS is pushing forward research on a number of psychedelics with potential in medicine. On August 10, MAPS was awarded a $12,979,050 grant from the state of Michigan to fund a study on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and cannabis.
According to Dr. Sue Sisley, President of the Scottsdale Research Institute and longtime cannabis researcher, this new study is sorely needed in the community.
The grant comes from Michigan’s 2021 Veteran Marijuana Research Grant Program, and is funded by the state’s recreational cannabis taxes. With a goal of determining the “the efficacy of marijuana in treating the medical conditions of United States armed services veterans and preventing veteran suicide.”
The Michigan grant makes it the second clinical trial to give cannabis medicine or placebos to participating military veterans, and according to the Chief Science Officer of the MAPS Public Benefit Corporation, Berra Yazar-Klosinki, PhD, the first trial was a great success.
Now, with the commitment from Wesana Health, MAPS’ research on MDMA can accelerate as well.
The post Study on MDMA for Traumatic Brain Injury Boosted By $1.5M Donation appeared first on High Times.
Vancouver-based company Numinus received federal approval for a study on MDMA. Sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the therapy study will involve twenty people with post-traumatic stress disorder. The goal is to learn more about MDMA-assisted therapy, specifically as a treatment for PTSD and eating disorders. In addition, researchers are hoping to […]
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Matt Stang has seen the future. When the former High Times owner was staring down the barrel of a possible life sentence for cannabis trafficking in 2010, he knew we’d already passed the event horizon — His sentence was somewhere in the epilogue of the war on drugs. Now, Stang is the CEO of Delic, […]
Just like cannabis gradually became a regular part of the mainstream conversation during the last decade, over the next few years we can expect to hear much more about psychedelics – everything from medical benefits to legalization efforts, societal views to current studies, and beyond. Given the safe and natural element to using these types of compounds, it’s no surprise that psychedelics are following the same path as cannabis: decriminalization and eventual re-legalization on the basis of scientific research and cultural acceptance.
Psychedelic research and legalization is a hot topic right now, and of all the psychedelics, THC is still the most popular one. For THC users who have a problem with the anxiety or experience paranoia, delta-8 THC might be preferable. If you think you could benefit from this altered version of THC, take a look at our awesome delta-8 THC deals, and try it out for yourself.
What are Psychedelics?
Psychedelic drugs are a subset of hallucinogens. They contain psychoactive compounds that are capable of altering a person’s mood, perception, and cognition; sometimes permanently. The active compounds are usually found in nature, like psilocybin or mescaline, but they can also be manmade, like LSD.
Psychedelics are known for causing ‘trips’, which is what the high is referred to. When a person is tripping, they may have altered perceptions of the world around them. Many people believe this is limited to visual and auditory hallucinations, but it can also include feeling, tasting, and smelling things that are not real, as well as a heightened sense of connection and understanding, and greater feelings of introspection.
The trips that people most commonly associate with these types of the drugs are the ones in which a state of hallucinogenic delirium is reached, but that is not always the case. Many times, it is more of an experience than a trip, and something can be learned and achieved psychologically with every small dose.
The word itself, ‘psychedelics’, was first used in 1957 to recognize substances that were said to open the mind, however, the more scientific term for them is ‘entheogens’. This term was adopted, not necessarily for the sake of being scientific, but rather to allow the field to operate without the stigma attached to psychedelics from the smear campaigns of the 1960’s. The term entheogen comes from Greek where it means ‘building the god within’.
Different psychedelics produce different trips. For example, with DMT you can expect a short high lasting less than 1 hour, whereas LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline trips can last up to ten hours. Some hallucinogens are more potent than others, like mushrooms vs acid. The active compounds are different in each drug so there is a lot of variation to the effects that can be felt.
Some people experience bad trips in which negative, or even scary, hallucinations are experienced, and/or a rapid heartbeat, sweating, nausea, disorientation, and fatigue occur. There is indication that the majority of these symptoms can be controlled through proper dosing. This is why most modern-day, therapeutic users of psychedelics consume the drugs in micro-doses.
Medical Research on Psychedelics
Just like cannabis, legalization and normalization of psychedelic drugs would be impossible if there weren’t some type of medical benefits to show on paper. Luckily, the research does exist, especially in the field of mental health. A study published just last month in the journal Nature Medicine found that MDMA-assisted therapy could be “a potential breakthrough treatment” for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Other studies have looked at psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, as a possible treatment option for clinical depression, and the results were incredibly promising. Additional research is underway to determine the effectiveness of numerous other psychedelics as well, including LSD and ketamine.
Most psychedelics are serotonergic, meaning the affect the serotonin receptors in our bodies. Many antidepressant drugs involve some type of serotonin signaling, although there are numerous different ways that substances can interact with these receptors. Using pharmaceuticals often leaves the patient with many unwanted side effects, whereas natural compounds are typically considered safer, when used correctly.
Psychedelics had a brief stint in modern medicine in the 1950s and several psychologists at the time were utilizing them to treat patients with depression and addiction, LSD in particular. They found it to be especially helpful in curbing alcoholism, which can be proven by this study in which it was reported that even 1 full year after treatment, subjects were still off the booze.
Known as ‘psychedelic therapy’ in the U.S. and ‘psycholytic therapy in the U.K., it was really catching on. However, when these compounds were added to the Schedule 1 narcotics list in both countries, the ability to research psychedelics, let alone utilize them in treatment plans, came to a screeching halt.
In recent years, we’ve seen a massive shift in the way the public, as well as healthcare and government agencies, view this class of drugs. The FDA itself has deemed both psilocybin and MDMA (magic mushrooms and ecstasy) as “leading breakthrough therapies” for depression and PTSD. This means that we can anticipate a rush in research and development for products containing these active ingredients in the very near future.
Psychedelic Legalization Efforts
The heavy regulation of psychedelics began in 1966, just as these drugs started making their way in the realm of recreational use. At the time, ‘recreational’ use of psychoactive substances was rooted in their ability to expand one’s consciousness. Psychedelic activists of today could very well be driven by similar motives, but the focus of their public campaigns is ‘safe, natural, alternative healthcare’ – a topic that many people have been showing greater interest in over the last decade.
Looking at it from a purely legal perspective, it not only makes sense, but it seems like the only logical way to tackle a subject like this one. Pushing for full legalization of highly intoxicating substances is already a pretty tall order, but if using the argument that our collective consciousness is suffering and in need of expansion, you can imagine that the movement wouldn’t gain much traction (regardless of how true sentiment that actually is).
Psychedelic legalization will undoubtedly face many of the same challenges we have seen time and time again in the fight for cannabis legalization. We know medical research fueled by cultural mainstreaming makes for a remarkably effective weapon against outdated regulations. But despite how far we have come on both of those fronts in the cannabis industry, it remains federally prohibited. And when looking at our current administration, we know that Joe Biden really has a bug up his you-know-what about cannabis, so it seems incredibly unlikely that we will see any kind of turnaround with psychedelic regulations on his watch.
Nevertheless, we know it’s in the cards and by the end of this decade it will be a booming industry. Numerous, cities, states and countries have relaxed their laws surrounding possession and use of psychedelics drugs.
Cultural Views on Psychedelic Legalization
Compared to cannabis, psychedelic have the unique advantage of being carrying less social stigma. Many advocates of psychedelic drugs are healers themselves, dedicated to conserving cultural traditions regarding the healing of pain and trauma through rituals that include psychedelic use – and this will be a huge contributing factor to eventual legalization.
From their initial emergence into the mainstream discussion, psychedelics have been positioned as a therapeutic drug, rather than recreational; as compounds that you use in micro doses to get only the psychological benefits without any of the psychoactive side effects; and as compounds that will soon be utilized in some of the most cutting-edge therapy sessions, by the most progressive practitioners.
Stigma still exists, as is the case with any intoxicating compound, but much of this stems from completely irrelevant fear; and luckily it’s nowhere as commonplace as it has been in years prior. Most people, even those who generally lean conservative, are adopting more liberal views when it comes to the use of certain substances, especially those that are found in nature. Plant-based healing is a much more popular concept now that in has been in our nation’s recent past.
In a big move for the psychedelic industry, a bill was recently passed by a second California Senate committee which would legalize the possession of numerous different forms of psychoactive drugs in the Golden State. The legislation, which was sponsored by Senator Scott Wiener (D), advanced through the Public Safety Committee earlier this month, followed by a pass from the Health Committee one week later. If this bill fully passes, an extensive list of psychedelics including psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, ibogaine, LSD, and MDMA would be legalized for adults aged 21 and older.
Additionally, the bill would call for the expungement of prior convictions for possession of psychedelic drugs, the same way the state is trying to expunge cannabis convictions; as well as redefining what paraphernalia will be lawful to possess and use with these newly legalized substances.
If this all sounds vaguely familiar it’s because California was also the first state to legalize medical cannabis use back in 1996, long before it was a frequent topic in any political discourse. The golden state is also the birthplace of most cultural cannabis trends over the last few decades. California has been at the forefront of cannabis legalization efforts since the early 1970s and is one of the first states to begin expunging prior cannabis-related convictions after Prop 64 passed in 2016.
“The war on drugs has been an abject failure because it is based on the false belief, the false notion, that criminalizing people, arresting them, incarcerating them for possessing, for using drugs, will somehow deter use and improve public safety,” commented democratic Senator Scott Wiener. “It has done neither.”
Oregon, Washington and Colorado are also very liberal states that have been working to change the national narrative on drug use, particularly cannabis and other psychedelics. Oregon became the first state in the United States to decriminalize the possession of all drugs. Possessing heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other intoxicating substances for personal use is no longer a criminal offense in Oregon. Those drugs are still against the law, as is selling them. But possession is now a civil – not criminal – violation that may result in a fine or court-ordered therapy, not jail.
The path to drug legalization can be bumpy, and taking psychedelics from illegal to medical-use-only to legal for adult-use will take some time. But based on current patterns, we can expect this will happen relatively soon. Just like cannabinoids, psychedelic compounds are the medicine of the future and when legalization does occur, there will be an industry boom like we’ve never seen before.
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In 2019, a new kind of wellness business sprouted – a legal psychedelic drug company. We spoke with Matt Stang, the co-founder and CEO of Delic Corp to learn more about their mission as well as any strategies they utilized to build a publicly traded, legal psychedelic ecosystem. Matt Stang spent twenty years pioneering the […]
The post How is Delic creating a legal psychedelic ecosystem appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.
As the legal cannabis market booms, another class of drugs on the horizon is getting closer to legalization, with its own impending boom coming. And that means a whole new place for investment. So as MDMA, psilocybin, and DMT work their way through medical trials, here’s how to invest in this new medical psychedelics field.
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What are psychedelics?
Psychedelics are a subset of hallucinogenic drugs, which themselves are a subset of psychoactive drugs. Whether made in a lab like LSD, or found in nature like psilocybin or peyote, psychedelics are known for causing ‘trips’. When a person is tripping, they may have altered perceptions of the world around, experience/feel/taste/see/hear things that are not real (hallucinations), feel a heightened sense of connection to those around them, experience euphoria, feel a sense of spirituality and connectedness with the universe, and a greater sense of self-introspection. A large percentage of psychedelics are serotonergic, meaning they effect serotonin receptors in the brain, though they can do this in different ways.
Some drugs like DMT produce short trips of less than an hour in duration. While other drugs like LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline can cause trips that last for many hours, as many as eight or ten. Sometimes people experience bad trips in which negative, or even scary, hallucinations are experienced, and/or a rapid heartbeat, sweating, nausea, disorientation, and fatigue occur. There is indication that the majority of these symptoms can be controlled through proper dosing. In fact, many therapeutic psychedelic users consume the drugs in micro-doses.
All psychedelics are Schedule I in the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, a drug scheduling treaty which defines the legality of different compounds globally. Starting with the Staggers-Dodd bill in 1968 which illegalized LSD and psilocybin, and finishing with the placement in the Convention, making all such substances illegal to buy, sell, or consume, with no purported medical value.
Psychedelics have been used for thousands of years, all throughout the world, though their uses in medicine in the mid-1900’s, and proposed uses today, are generally different than the shamanistic/ritualistic way they were primarily used in history, although this is not to say that there were not traditions that did use psychedelics therapeutically. Technically, if a shaman is consuming ayahuasca to get rid of demons, I suppose that could be thought of as therapeutic anyway.
Medical psychedelics research
Psychedelics, particularly, LSD, were introduced to modern medicine around the 1950’s after Albert Hoffman synthesized the compound in Switzerland in 1938. Several psychotherapists at the time, like Humphry Osmond and Ronald Sandison caught onto the idea, bringing these treatments to England and America. Hoffman conducted, among other research and therapy, the Saskatchewan trials, and ultimately came up with the idea of ‘psychedelic therapy’ in which a single large dose of LSD was given along with therapy sessions.
‘Psycholytic therapy’ is what Ronald Sandison’s version became known as in the UK, with the difference being that Sandison’s treatment style was to do multiple sessions with smaller amounts of the drug that increased through the process. Both doctors found great success particularly with alcohol addiction. How much success? According to the Saskatchewan trials, as many as 40-45% of drinkers were still not drinking a full year after the therapy session.
Unfortunately, when the drugs were made illegal, all ability to continue such treatments ended, and the ability for research into the field was completely stymied, and did not pick up again until much more recently. However, to give an idea of the massive turnaround that has been going on when it comes to psychedelics, consider that the US’s Food & Drug Administration (FDA), singled out both psylocibin in 2019 and MDMA in 2017 as ‘breakthrough therapies’ for depression and PTSD respectively. Such a designation by the FDA is meant to speed up research and development for products deemed necessary for health.
This indicates a desire by a US government agency to not only test these drugs, but to get them to market. And they’re all schedule I right now. One exception to psychedelics all being schedule I, however, is magic mushrooms. Though its psychoactive components like psilocybin are Schedule I, and therefore illegal, the plants themselves are not outlawed, creating a bit of gray area in terms of mushroom use, cultivation, and production. This gray area could prove useful in the future.
What can be expected?
If you’re wondering why this matters, consider how massive – and growing – the legal cannabis markets are. Well, psychedelics offer many of the same medical benefits, especially psychologically, with possibly added abilities in other departments. And they’ve proven to be very safe. As an industry in which much of it is pharmaceutical to begin with, it’s a safe bet that these drugs are going to pick up quickly. Because the pharma world is sure to take a massive interest, it gives even more reason to invest in medical psychedelics now, before everything explodes.
So how much is it worth? I’m not the kind of writer who generally likes to get into these numbers. Every publication makes its own predictions, off its own information, and very rarely do these predictions seem to consider world changes. Whatever the size of the CBD industry was originally predicted to grow to a few years ago, that number would be invalid by now because it didn’t account for THC-based medicines growing in popularity, or legal markets, or psychedelics.
Imagine how much psychedelics could eat away at cannabis revenue. And not only that, any predictions of the future market size for psychedelics would have to take into account the still expanding cannabis markets (with more countries constantly legalizing in some form or another), and the question mark of what currently unforeseen factors could upend the trend a few years down the line. So, I’m not concerned with too many predictor numbers, but here’s just one, in order to get an idea what we’re dealing with.
PRNewswire, citing an analysis by Data Bridge Market Research, explained the forecast for 2020-2027, in which the field is expected to grow to $6.8 billion by 2027. It was worth just over $2 billion in 2019.
Best ways to invest in growing medical psychedelics field
Now that a certain barrier seems to be broken, more companies are conducting clinical trials, getting patents, and starting to get clearances for products. In fact, if you thought the psychedelics market was off limits, you’d be very much mistaken. Not only is this a growing market with a lot of possibility, but companies are already staking their claim, leaving room for you to start investing. So, if you like the idea of getting in on something before it explodes, consider investigating the following companies, and invest in the medical psychedelics field.
Much like with cannabis, Canada is quickly establishing itself as a leader in medical psychedelics, with the top companies coming out of this country. In the first half of 2020, $150 million USD was raised by six different companies: Mind Medicine, COMPASS Pathways, Field Trip Psychedelics, ATAI Life Sciences, Orthogonol Thinker, and Numinous Wellness. Mindmed and Numinous are already publicly listed companies. This is an early stage entry for investors. In fact, to give an idea of how seriously Canada is taking this, the first exchange traded fund – The Horizons Psychedelic Stock Index ETF, made its debut in January. ETF’s are like regular asset exchanges, except that they include a mix of stocks, commodities, and bonds. This exchange is solely for psychedelics.
The CEO of the fund, Steve Hawkins, said that while larger pharmaceutical companies have been admitted to the fund, the idea is to keep it mainly for smaller psychedelics companies. Companies can be added to the fund if they can tick the following boxes: be a part of a regular US or Canada-based stock exchange, be a biotechnology company focusing on medical psychedelic research, be a producer and/or supplier of psychedelic medicines, and be a company that works within the general supply chain for psychedelic medications.
Biggest names so far
When it comes to emerging fields and investing, the majority of people will never get there preemptively, and will instead act by reaction. For anyone who wants to get in on it before the top blows off, the following companies currently provide the best prospect for future growth, expansion, approval, and ability for revenue. These names should be noted, they will likely be bringing you the first approved medical psychedelic products, and for anyone looking to invest in this rapidly growing field of medical psychedelics, they stand out as the best options so far.
Mind Medicine is one of the furthest along when it comes to getting a product out there. It’s a pharmaceutical company that specifically works to develop psychedelic medications. The company is currently in the middle of six different trials on drugs like MDMA, LSD and DMT. In January of 2021, MindMed announced the first ever clinical trials to involve a combination of MDMA and LSD, with company president Dr. Miri Halperin Wernli stating:
“I believe that when LSD and MDMA are taken together they have exceptional potential to open a window into our mind which will awaken it to new levels of awareness by changing the fluidity of the state of consciousness, amplifying changed perceptions, intensifying emotions, and stimulating novel thoughts. It is like a gateway to a multidimensional universe.”
When it comes to MDMA trials, MAPS – Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, is also making its way to approval. MAPS entered phase III of its trials into MDMA for PTSD, and aligned this phase with the FDA according to a Special Protocol Assessment made directly with the FDA. This means that so long as the trials show clinically significant results, the study will already check all FDA regulatory boxes, and make it that much easier for approval.
However, a psychedelic drug has technically already been approved by the FDA. In March of 2019, Johnson & Johnson’s Spravato got approval. The spray treatment is considered for those who have not received a benefit from at least two separate anti-depressants. Spravato is a drug that’s a chemical cousin of the drug ketamine, which is classified as a dissociative drug, but also as a psychedelic. The medication is meant for severe depression.
There are tons of companies popping up. Apart from the companies already listed, prospective investors should check out Champignon Brands, Hollister Biosciences, Better Plant Sciences, Captiva Verde Land, Core One Labs, Cybin, Empower Clinics, Ehave, Jazz pharmaceuticals and EGF Theramed Health. All of these companies are associated in some way or other with the production of psychedelic medications. And while I have yet to see it mentioned in an article, it seems to me that what might upend everything I just said, is the ability to cultivate magic mushrooms.
Something to consider
Much like cannabis, mushrooms come with the ability for easy self-cultivation, as well as large scale cultivation. People who invest in today’s cannabis cultivation already know the value of having growing fields. Imagine the same thing, but with mushrooms. I personally believe that the biggest way in the future to invest in medical psychedelics, will be through the growing of mushrooms.
As stated, this is my opinion, and has not been discussed much as far as I can tell. This is not shocking though, and really doesn’t mean much, as this topic is also an undesirable one for any biotech or pharmaceutical company that – much like with cannabis – would much prefer you know nothing about how to do this on your own. And much like cannabis, it’s easy enough to learn how for anyone who needs some help getting started. Plus, since cultivation and sale of the mushrooms themselves is actually legal in many places, it’s way more legal to grow a field of mushrooms in much of the world, than to grow a field of cannabis.
How to invest in Medical Psychedelics – Conclusion
That the medical psychedelics field is coming is not as much up for debate as many would believe. It might be growing in the shadow of the cannabis market, and being kept quiet until the ability for large scale monetization is possible, but it’s coming, and it will be big. For those who want to invest in the growing medical psychedelics field, getting in now is probably the best idea, and with all the new companies popping up every day, it’s sure to become a heated race very soon.
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a medical professional, I have no formal legal education, and I’ve never been to business school. All information in my articles is sourced from other places, which are always referenced, and all opinions stated are mine, and are made clear to be mine. I am not giving anyone advise of any kind, in any capacity. I am more than happy to discuss topics, but should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a professional in the relevant field for more information.
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As research into medical psychedelics heats up, more drugs have been brought into the spotlight for medical testing. The FDA is pushing for research and products with MDMA and psilocybin in the US, and over in England, the world’s 1st DMT trials into depression have begun.
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What is DMT?
DMT – N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, is a hallucinogenic compound that can be found in nature in many plants like Psychotria viridis and Banisteriopsis caapi. It is processed into a white powder that can be vaporized or smoked, brewed into a drink like ayahuasca, snorted like cocaine, or even injected. It has been used as a medicine, and in spiritual applications, for thousands of years. DMT trips can be as short as 30-45 minutes, or as long as 4-6 hours when taken as ayahuasca.
Evidence of DMT use has been found going back at least 1,000 years in the Sora River valley in southwestern Bolivia with the finding of a pouch which contained both DMT and harmine. Together they imply the use of ayahuasca (a psychedelic tea made from the combination of Psychotria viridis – which produces DMT, and Banisteriopsis caapi vine – which produces MAO inhibitors which keep the DMT from breaking down, allowing for the longer trip time.)
Like many psychedelic drugs, DMT acts on serotonin receptors, particularly the 5-ht2a receptor. It acts as a non-selective agonist at most/all receptors. Serotonin is a hormone that’s known for mood stabilization, happiness, well-being, anxiety levels, and feelings of depression. It also plays a big role in communication within the nervous system, and to help regulate basic functions like eating, digestion and sleeping. Too little serotonin has been associated with depressive disorders, and too much is often associated with excessive activity in nerve cells.
There is growing evidence that the human body can actually produce DMT itself by way of the pineal gland in the brain. There has even been research into whether DMT is released right before death in order to quell the anxiety of dying. Most testing into this has been done on animals thus far. Recent research has shed light into the similarities between near-death experiences and DMT use.
DMT was first synthesized by Richard Manske, a Canadian chemist, in 1931. It was not actually located in plants until 1946 when Oswaldo Gonçalves de Lima, a microbiologist, was able to find the compound in nature. The hallucinogenic aspect wasn’t discovered until 1956 when Hungarian chemist and psychiatrist Stephen Szara self-administered DMT he had extracted from the plant Mimosa hostilis.
What are psychedelics in general?
Psychedelics are psychoactive substances with a powerful ability to alter perception, mood, and cognitive processes. Psychedelics are a subset of hallucinogens, and can cause a person to perceptually experience things that are not actually happening – aka a hallucination. Psychedelics are also known for promoting self-introspection, feelings of connection between people, mystical experiences, relaxation, feelings of overall well-being, and euphoria.
They are also associated with negative side effects like bad trips which can cause negative hallucinations and feelings of anxiety and fear. Bad trips, and other negative effects like sweating, vomiting, chills, numbness, and dizziness, can often be entirely avoided with correct dosing. Psychedelics can be made in laboratories, like LSD, or found in nature like DMT and psilocybin. They are not associated with causing major injury or death.
Currently, plenty of research is going on into psychedelic drugs, though research was stymied for years due to psychedelics being made globally illegal with placement in Schedule I of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1971. This treaty defines drug legalities worldwide. The scheduling implies the drugs in this category are uniformly dangerous, with no medical value, and the grouping includes DMT and other psychedelics. Even so, plenty of research is going on right now into LSD, MDMA, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), ayahuasca and more.
When it comes to psychedelics for therapy, there isn’t a model that I’ve seen where a subject is simply given a dose of a drug and told to have a good time. In the past, and in more recent testing, psychedelics have been/are used as part of psychedelic-assisted therapy. The basic model involves three phases: preparation, psychedelic experience, and integration. Research from the 1950’s-1970’s involves two ways of doing the second phase.
One method was developed by Humphry Osmond, a Canadian psychiatrist, who used one large dose with a therapeutic session, which was termed ‘psychedelic therapy’. Conversely, UK psychiatrist Ronald Sandison used smaller doses that gradually got bigger, over several sessions, which became called ‘psycholytic therapy’. Here is an overview of the three basic stages, regardless of which methodology is used in terms of number of sessions and amount of drug per session:
Preparation phase– In this first stage, the doctor and patient get to know each other, which is important because the relationship between the doctor and patient can affect the psychedelic session. This phase generally involves talk therapy sessions where the patient’s issues can be identified and flushed out, and the patient can be prepared for the following phase. Preparation can involve behavioral directives for the experience, like explaining to the patient they should open a door if one appears in his/her experience, or to go up to a scary creature to ask questions rather than run away, as a way to encourage a patient to deal with difficult situations instead of avoiding them.
Psychedelic phase – In this phase, the patient is given a psychedelic, and then experiences their trip while their doctor gives them general guidance, with little or no analysis at this time. The session can last as long as 8+ hours as it must last as long as the drug. It’s usually carried out in a space that looks and feels comfortable to the patient. In testing, the space is usually set up to look like a living room. These sessions have two doctors present, likely for safety reasons as the patient is being put in an altered state of mind. This phase varies greatly depending on the methods used by the particular doctor. But at all times during this phase, the patient is attended to by their doctor.
Integration phase – This phase occurs soon after the psychedelic phase and can be done in one or multiple sessions, much like the other phases. The doctor facilitates this session, and helps the patient make sense of their experience. To process what happened during the session, to gain some kind of positive value from it, and to integrate an understanding between the psychedelic experience and their issues in reality.
World’s 1st DMT trials for depression
Most of the studies in the 1900’s revolved around testing LSD for use with alcohol addiction. In today’s world, there is growing interest in several compounds. The new trend can be seen clearly in the US (FDA) Food & Drug Administration’s push to get some of these compounds tested and brought to market. In 2017, the FDA designated MDMA as a ‘breakthrough therapy’ for PTSD, and in 2019 it made the same designation for psilocybin from magic mushrooms for major depression.
According to the FDA, the ‘breakthrough therapy’ designation is meant “to expedite the development and review of drugs for serious or life-threatening conditions…” So it suffices to say, that legal or not, there is a growing pressure even within the US government to get these drugs to market.
It’s therefore not shocking that the 1st DMT trials into depression recently started. It was announced in December 2020 that the (MHRA) UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency approved the use of DMT in the first ever clinical trial of the compound, specifically for the treatment of depression. The trials are being done as a collaboration between Small Pharma and Imperial College London. In this first trial, considered a phase I/IIa trial, the drug is being given to a small number of healthy individuals to establish safety and efficacy. A second trial is expected, in which patients will be given DMT in trials as a part of psychedelic-assisted therapy for depression.
The explanation for the first trials, according to Small Pharma’s chief scientific and medical officer Carol Routledge, is that “Taking the drug before therapy is akin to shaking up a snow globe and letting the flakes settle.” She says, “The psychedelic drug breaks up all of the ruminative thought processes in your brain – it literally undoes what has been done by either the stress you’ve been through or the depressive thoughts you have – and hugely increases the making of new connections.” She goes on to say:
“Then the [psychotherapy] session afterwards is the letting-things-settle piece of things – it helps you to make sense of those thoughts and puts you back on the right track. We think this could be a treatment for a number of depressive disorders besides major depression, including PTSD, treatment-resistant depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and possibly some types of substance abuse.”
Unlike an LSD, psilocybin, or even ayahuasca trip (in which DMT is mixed with another compound to make it last longer), all of which can last many hours, DMT trips are significantly shorter, usually over within a couple hours max. This might prove preferable to the aforementioned drugs which require significantly more time for therapeutic sessions. These DMT trials into depression can help establish if DMT is suitable for treatment, and if the shorter time period really is beneficial.
While everyone focuses on every minute detail of the fight for cannabis legalization, most people are ignoring the rise in medical psychedelic research and use. Maybe because the topic just hasn’t been promoted enough, which is possibly because there isn’t yet a product to make money off of. But there will be soon, and then, what I’m writing about now, will be front page news in every publication. For now, though it’s still a minor story to the average person, it’s a major one in the medical/pharmaceutical world, with these 1st DMT trials into depression signaling even further expansion of an industry ready to blow off the roof.
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