Compass Begins Trading

Compass Pathways began trading on the NASDAQ on Friday under the ticker symbol CMPS. The UK based company got off to a great start, in part thanks to being the first pure play psychedelics company to go public on a major American exchange. 

How Compass Found Their Way:

  • The company was founded in 2016 by couple George Goldsmith and Ekaterina Malievskaia, stemming from a search to help their sick child. 
  • Compass is no stranger to controversy, they ruffled more than a few feathers transitioning from a charity to the for profit company they are today.
  • A patented synthetic version of psilocybin is the company’s key asset. 
  • In 2018 their synthetic psilocybin received Breakthrough Therapy Designation from the FDA for Treatment Resistant Depression.
  • The treatment is currently in a phase IIb trial. 

IPO by the Numbers: On the first day of trading the share price jumped 71% from an open of $17 to a close of $29, the listing will raise approximately $127 million. Compass’s 34 million outstanding shares are valued at almost $1 billion. 

Big Winners:

  • Christian Angermayer, who provided the initial funding to Compass, owned 29% of the pre-IPO shares through the biotech platform he founded, ATAI Life. 
  • Peter Thiel, co-founder of Paypal and early investor in Facebook, owned 7.5% pre-IPO. 
  • Other major investors include Michael Novogratz,Founders Fund, Moore Capital Management and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co.

Big Picture: Compass is off to a great start on the public markets, the new found liquidity supports the company in raising the necessary funds to complete the work of bringing a drug to market. But remember, they haven’t received approval yet. Insiders suspect FDA go ahead in the next 2-3 years, but there’s certainly a chance the company never realizes any meaningful revenue. 

Berkeley Launches Psychedelic Center

University of California, Berkeley has launched the Center for The Science of Psychedelics (BCSP) with the help of an anonymous $1.25 million donation. 

Who’s Involved:

  • The Center’s inaugural director is Michael Silver, a professor in the School of Optometry and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley. 
  • Michael Pollan, the author of the influential book on psychedelics How to Change Your Mind and the James L and John S Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley, is a co-founder and will lead the centre’s public education program. 
  • Sam Shonkoff is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union at UC Berkeley, he will be supporting the BCSP’s efforts to create a training program in psychedelics, religious cultures, and spiritual care.

What’s Involved:

The center will be conducting clinical research as well as public education. 

  • Beginning with psilocybin researchers will investigate how psychedelics impact cognition, perception and emotion, and their biological bases in the human brain. 
  • The centre will focus on healthy patients to better understand how the substances “improve cognitive flexibility, alter visual perception and change patterns of brain activity. 
  • The education component will begin with a website providing rigorously vetted information about psychedelics. 
  • The center plans to weave in spirituality and theology into the research, to do so they’ve partnered with the Graduate Theological Union.
  • Eventually, they intend to train psychedelic guides. 

Zoom Out… Berkeley is the third major educational institution to launch a psychedelic research center following Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and Imperial College in London. 

New Psych Association Formed

A number of organizations in the psychedelic sector have formed the Psychedelic Medicine Association (PMA), in order to  “bridge the gap between the medical establishment, patients and industry leaders.”

The PMA has been formed as a public benefit corporation, they aim to educate, making the conversation between patients and healthcare providers about psychedelics easier.

Leadership…The PMA will be headed by Dr. Lynne Moranski, a physician, attorney and public speaker who authored the book Quitting By Design. 

Members…include Field Trip Health, Fluence, Magic Med Industries, Unlimited Sciences and others. 

Look Ahead: The PMA will host an official launch event on September 29th, at that time they will open up a drive to recruit more members. Right now, the organization boasts a nice cross section of the sector, it will be interesting to see what big players they can add to boost their credibility and longevity. 

Michigan City Voting On Psych Decrim

The City Council in Ann Arbor, Michigan will be voting on decriminalizing psychedelics in the city Today, Monday September 21st. 

What Council is Voting On: The full text of the resolution can be read here. In short, it reads similarly to other cities who have decriminalized, making the investigation and arrest of people for using, growing, possessing, transporting and distributing entheogenic plants and fungi — including hallucinogenic drugs deemed illegal under state and federal law — to be the city’s lowest law enforcement priority.

Backstory: Decriminalize Nature Ann Arbor (DNA2) has been actively pushing council to take up the cause, which they declined to do earlier this year. Activism towards psychedelics decriminalization picked up after recreational cannabis sales began in Michigan in December 2019, and the CoronaVirus pandemic increased the need for mental health solutions.

What’s Next: The resolution is sponsored by Council Members Anne Bannister and Jeff Hayner, it will require four more votes, for a total of six votes, to pass. 

What Else We’re Watching 

Oregon could herald a research-driven psychedelic renaissance: Oregonians are hopeful that the legalization of psilocybin in their state will attract scientific researchers to the drug. 

How COVID-19 Has Impacted the Psychedelic Community: The pandemic shut down psychedelic retreats and healing centres, but in a time when psychedelics may be more important than ever, new ways to trip are being found. 

Psychedelic Incubator Announces Candidates: Tabula Rasa has welcomed four companies to its accelerator program, they are The Arcana Armada, EPIC Wellness, Sacred Huachuma Retreats and Priscilla C. Agoncillo. 

Scientists Say A Mind-Bending Rhythm In The Brain Can Act Like Ketamine: Researchers are using light to trigger the brain into a similar experience of taking ketamine.