Drug War

Congratulations to drugs for winning the war. Voters chose to legalize cannabis in Arizona, New Jersey, Montana, Mississippi, and South Dakota. Washington D.C. decriminalized naturally occurring psychedelics. Oregon legalized psilocybin and decriminalized all drugs. 

DC Decriminalizes

Voters in the United States capital voted overwhelmingly to decriminalize naturally occurring psychedelics in their city. Initiative 81, the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020, passed 76% (183,997 votes) to 24% (57,390 votes.) 

The initiative does not make psychedelics legal in the district, but it does direct police, the city’s attorney general and the U.S. Attorney for D.C. to “cease prosecution of residents of the District of Columbia for these activities.”

Backstory: The decriminalization movement was initiated by Melissa Lavasani who used magic mushrooms to help her deal with postpartum depression. She joined the advocacy group Decriminalize Nature DC who quarterbacked the campaign. 

Next Steps: Because of D.C.’s unique nature as a creature of the federal government Initiative 81 will need to go through a 30 day review period and pass Congress. Typically this is a rubber stamp process, no delays are expected. 

Oregon Opens

Voters in Oregon passed Measure 109, which will “permit licensed service providers to administer psilocybin-producing mushroom and fungi products to individuals 21 years of age or older.” The Measure passed 55% (1,229,929 votes) to 45% (978,316 votes). 

Backstory: Measure 109’s lead proponents were husband and wife Tom and Sheri Eckhart, both psychotherapists. The soap company Dr. Bronner’s was a big backer donating millions to the campaign, while Decriminalize Nature opposed the legalization approach. 

Path Forward: The Oregon Health Authority will now have two years to develop regulations to govern legal psilocybin. 

Canadian Psychedelic Company Pivots Back To CBD

Thoughtful Brands, which was until recently known as Mota Ventures, and is now traded on the CSE as TBI is abandoning a short lived psychedelic business in Germany. 

Quick Recap: It was only June when the company then known as Mota Brands announced the acquisition of German company Verrian Ontario in an all stock deal they valued at $20 million (CAD).

Of note from the CEO Ryan Hoggan in the company’s press release at the time: 

“Unlike some companies that use psychedelics as a marketing term, this acquisition of Verrian brings Mota market-ready products, world-renowned addiction medicine experts, R&D facilities and a 110,000 square foot facility to make it happen. In my opinion, this is the most complete psychedelic asset on the market, and therefore should immediately make Mota a market leader in the space.”

What Happened: Thoughtful Brands announced last week that Verrian would seek “creditor protection and institute insolvency proceedings in Germany.” The company does not have the cash to continue operations or pay creditors. 

Outlook: To say the least this is not a great look. But Thoughtful has no plans to slow down, they will be focusing on their direct to consumer brands leveraging the CBD processor American Extraction CBD Corp., which they bought in a cash and stock deal for $9 million in September. 

No, A Pill Can’t Change Your Politics or Religion

On October 11th, Scientific American magazine published an article which argued in the affirmative the question “What if a Pill Can Change Your Politics of Religious Beliefs?” Last week, in the same magazine, psilocybin researchers from Johns Hopkins University are countering the claim saying there’s no good evidence to support it.

Changing Your Mind: In the original article, Eddie Jacobs of the University of Oxford, reports that studies indicated psilocybin can lead to “shifts in personality, values and attitudes to life, even leading some atheists to find God.” He goes on to say that this is a feature, not a bug of psilocybin assisted therapy. 

Not So Fast: Matthew W. Johnson and David B. Yaden of Johns Hopkins argue that “no evidence that people change political or religious affiliations from psychedelic treatments, and current evidence for other kinds of belief changes is weak.” The authors go on to refute the source evidence point by point presented in the original article. 

Zoom Out: The original headline spurned rewrites across mainstream media outlets, leaving uninformed readers with the simple interpretation likely not even intended by the author. What that author certainly got right in his essay is that “how many ultimately benefit from it will be a matter not just of how well it works, but also the narrative surrounding it when it arrives,” it’s important the record is corrected and clearly communicated. 

What Else We’re Watching

Calgary scientists buzzing over magic mushroom-inspired medical research: U of C is partnering with Magic Med Industries to develop what they’re calling a “psybary.”

Inside Oregon’s Magic Mushroom Underground: The Daily Beast speaks with the people who have had their lives changed by psilocybin before Oregon legalized it. 

The Sabina Project Aims To Restore BIPOC Sacred Earth Medicine: The group wants to bring the ancient psychedelic traditions back to the forefront of psychedelic medicine. 

A Handful of Start-Ups Are Developing Psychedelic Drugs for Mental Illnesses. It Could Be a Long Trip: The bearish case for psychedelics, the floodgates aren’t going to open overnight.