Psychedelics will take time, let’s learn that lesson from cannabis.
I’ve been writing about psychedelics for about 10 months now, first as part of a Leaf Forward newsletter (now The Report on Sex) and The Report on Psychedelics. There’s not doubt that the mush rush or the shroom boom, whatever you want to call it is here. There’s also little doubt that these psychedelic substances will have meaningful impact on people’s live. But it will take time, be patient. I’m sharing some very obvious things I’ve been thinking and saying about psychedelics.
Decriminalization isn’t legalization. Decriminalizing a substance or a service doesn’t make it legal, in most cases it’s simply a directive to law enforcement to not enforce those laws. Sex work, for example, is decriminalized in several jurisdictions but profiting from the sale of sex, or in some instances soliciting the sale of sex is illegal and enforced. We’ve seen three U.S. cities decriminalize so far and more jurisdictions are making moves, don’t get to excited that this will lead straight to legalization or to profit.
Legalization takes a really long time. Cannabis legalization did not happen overnight, it took a lot of work from activists doing heavy lifting over the years, and even once the politicians are on side and/or ballot measures are passed much work has to be done in order to actually put functional regulations in place. Look at California, a state that has been on the forefront of the cannabis movement and now the psychedelics movement, the commercial cannabis market continues to exist in a series of ups and downs.
Momentum can stop. Look to cannabis where we’ve had waves of legalization but also fits and stops. New York has failed several times to legalize, a liberal state with a massive market. Don’t count on the good times continue to roll because of a few early wins, and I’m talking about both the legalization route and FDA approval route.
The public doesn’t see psychedelics like cannabis. Cannabis has always been generally tolerated by people in power (for the use of by people who look like them), psychedelics have not been to the same extent and do not have the same reputation. Yes, there is increasing support for a more liberal approach to psychedelics but it’s not the same.
Psychedelics shouldn’t be seen like cannabis. Anyone who knows anyone who does drugs has a bad trip story.
The commercial opportunities are few and far between. Many of the major psychedelic companies are seeking FDA approvals for substances and treatments, doing this requires a whole lot of capital and a whole lot of time. Other opportunities being pursued are clinics, which will be a necessary part of a psychedelic assisted psychotherapy supply chain but the margins are tight. Recreational usage is such a wild card that it’s tough to place a bet. Adaptegenic mushrooms are not psychedelics, these products seem to be gaining popularity but they are simply a CPG.
Credentials matter. When it comes to a hard science, which most psychedelic companies are engaged in through drug development, believing isn’t enough. Deep subject matter expertise and experience is required. Wanting a pill with all the benefits and none of the side effects isn’t so simple. There are a lot of Elizabeth Holmeses out there.
People are full of shit. Probably an unhealthy way to look at things, but everyone, including myself, is bullshitting you. If someone claims they’re doing something that sounds impossible it probably is. On the flip side that’s ok, as one of my personal mantras is “Nobody knows what they’re doing except airline pilots (who often don’t either, but I squirrel that away).