The Week in Psychedelics – June 8, 2021

Psychedelics as we know are having it’s day. And have been. Cannabis has been having its day since 1996 when California passed Prop 215 more compassionately known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 which permitted the use of medical cannabis. Prop 215 was a landmark for weed activists because “California Proposition 215 is the first legislation in the U.S. that allowed for the legal medicinal use of marijuana”. And when one dreamily thinks about California in the context of ‘dreams come true’ – that vision of California put out there all so many years ago – it seemed only fitting that the Golden State would be the first in line to legalize weed for medicinal purposes.

And now once again, California may be leading the “way of the warrior” in the psychedelic renaissance with SB-519 to legalize psychedelics. On Tuesday, June 1 this historic bill passed the California State Senate and is now on its way to the Democratic State Assembly where hopefully it will pass with flying colors. 

“Sponsored by Senator Scott Wiener, the new legislation seeks to remove criminal sanctions for the possession of psychedelics—including LSD, MDMA, magic mushrooms, ketamine, DMT, ibogaine, and non-peyote-derived mescaline—for adults over 21.” 

“Although many have referred to the bill as a decriminalization measure, it is in fact a legalization measure that would make it legal to possess and to share psychedelics, as well as to cultivate naturally occurring psychedelics for personal use. It would also legalize spores capable of spawning psilocybin, within the state of California.” 

The bill would require the State Department of Health to establish a working group “to study and make recommendations regarding possible regulatory systems that California could adopt to promote safe and equitable access to certain substances in permitted legal contexts.” The recommendations would be due in January 2024.

“For psilocybin specifically, the legislation would repeal provisions in California statute that prohibit the cultivation or transportation of “any spores or mycelium capable of producing mushrooms or other material” that contain the psychoactive ingredient.”

If SB-519 passes the State Assembly it will be yet another leap towards acceptance of these substances as beneficial and away from the “War on Drugs”.  That it passed the State Senate is a step in the right direction. 

“Today’s vote was a “big step for this legislation and for our movement to end the War on Drugs, to take a more health and science-based approach, and to move away from criminalization of drugs,” Wiener said in a video he posted to Twitter.”  

If SB-519 passes the State Senate, California will once again lead the country in the first state sponsored legalization legislation of schedule I substances. This is a step further along the decriminalization path and follows the hard work of advocates in Oregon, Denver, Washington DC, Oakland, Santa Cruz, Ann Arbor, and Somerville and Cambridge, Mass.

“Indeed, SB 519 is part of a greater tidal wave of psychedelic legal reform, including the momentum that spawned from Denver’s effort to decriminalize psilocybin, to the Decriminalize Nature movement across the country from Oakland to Washington D.C., and Oregon’s recent legislation to decriminalize personal use of all drugs.” 

Moving along the psychedelic tracks we come to MindMed who never ceases to disappoint with news of the day or week. The huge news is MindMed’s founder and chief executive officer J.R. Rahn is stepping down. 

“Mind Medicine (MindMed) Inc. (NASDAQ: MNMD), (NEO: MMED), (DE: MMQ) (the “Company”), a leading clinical-stage pharmaceutical company and pioneer in the field of psychedelic inspired medicines, announces that J.R. Rahn, the Company’s co-founder and chief executive officer, is stepping down as chief executive officer and a director, and that its chief development officer, Robert Barrow, will assume the position of chief executive officer with immediate effect. The Company will also initiate a comprehensive search for a chief executive officer, in which Mr. Barrow will be a candidate, and Mr. Rahn will advise the Company during its leadership transition. The transition of the Company’s leadership team will enable the Company to pursue aggressively its clinical development programs and development of its companion innovative digital technologies.”

How do investors feel about this? I have listened to JR in an interview and he has put a lot of heart and soul into the space. So in wondering what people are thinking I went to the source of “the informed”: Reddit. The good people at Reddit always have their pulses tuned in and so a few quotes from the source: 

lonelykaleidoscopes

“CEO changes can often be positive, particular as you shift through stages.”

“It’s like the concept of a war time president – some CEOs are great to get things off the ground (esp. passionate founders) but don’t have the skill set to scale. My background is retail rather than science or tech but the logic holds – the person that’s right to run you at $10M revenue isn’t necessarily right for $100M or $1B”

Rags01095

“Especially true in this industrty which demands more than managementy skills buty also a keen knowledge of the science and industry landscape. The FDA approval process presents an entirely new and different set of challenges to a CEO”

lonelykaleidoscopes

  • “Definitely – I think the choice to give Barrow a test drive in the role is interesting. Internal promotions aren’t flashy but would be a sign of confidence in the current direction and team in place. An outsider could present really appealing benefits though – bringing in someone with more of a science background and relationships with the FDA and drug companies could create a ton of value based on where things are heading (or they could go the tech route again, but with someone who has more experience at scale)”

rjstaats

  • “Founders are visionaries – seeing opportunities and creating an industry and rarely are good CEOs, which requires different skill set.”

“This was likely part of the plan after hitting the Nasdaq and the huge market cap rally of the past year.”

Gamerscore1227

“Thanks for all the work you put in JR. You brought the awareness and voice of psychedelics to mental health. Now we need to find a CEO with experience that will truly take this company to the next level. Short term panic but I believe this is a great thing for the company”

All in all a good thing. Change is good and June seems to be a month of changes – planetary changes and so “June is a month of discovery, and keeping options open”.

Moving on – next stop the great state of Connecticut. On June 7 the Governor of Connecticut “signed a psychedelic study measure”. 

“Gov. Ned Lamont (D), who may also see a marijuana legalization bill delivered to his desk if the legislature succeeds in approving it this week, signed off on the psychedelics policy proposal as part of a broader package of health reform initiatives.”

“The provision stipulates that the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services must convene a working group, which needs to include legislators familiar with public health issues, to “study the health benefits of psilocybin.”

“Such study shall include, but need not be limited to, an examination of whether the use of psilocybin by a person under the direction of a health care provider may be beneficial to the person’s physical or mental wellbeing,” the text of the measure states.”

The next stop is the NFL.  And cannabis. Cannabis is and can be considered a psychedelic. By definition psychedelic means mind manifestation and there are those who group cannabis in the psychedelic bucket so for the purposes of this article cannabis counts. 

“Stephen Gray is a co-curator of the Spirit Plant Medicine conference, and editor and contributor to the book Cannabis and Spirituality: An Explorer’s Guide to an Ancient Plant Spirit Ally. He leads cannabis meditation sessions for those looking to use cannabis intentionally and for personal development.”

“What cannabis does is similar in some key respects to what major entheogens do,” he says. “You could refer to it as a non-specific amplifier.” Entheogens are chemicals from plants like cannabis or peyote, for example, taken to induce a non-ordinary state of consciousness and for religious and spiritual explorations.”

Getting back to the NFL. A  commission “formed between the NFL and the league’s players union plans to award up to $1 million in grants for researchers to investigate the therapeutic potential of marijuana, CBD and other alternatives to opioids for treating pain”.

One June 9 a representative from the NFL-NFLPA’s Joint Pain Management Committee (PMC) said, “clearly there are a lot of great ideas in this space and there’s a lot of important research that needs to be funded.”

“The grant funding opportunity is meant to “solicit proposals from investigators who have the current capability to carry out studies aimed at supplementing the PMC’s knowledge about pain management and athletic performance in elite football players,” a description states.”

“The league specifically wants proposals on three areas of inquiry:

  • the effects of cannabinoids on pain in elite football players (post-surgical and/or in daily pain management)
  • the effects of non-pharmacologic treatments on pain in elite football players (postsurgical and/or in daily pain management)
  • the effects of cannabis or cannabinoids on athletic performance (e.g., psychomotor, reaction time, cardiorespiratory function) in elite football players.”

The pre-proposal applications are due by July 31. 

“The league’s drug testing policy changed demonstrably last year as part of a collective bargaining agreement.”

“Under the policy, NFL players will not face the possibility of being suspended from games over positive tests for any drug—not just marijuana.”

This shift in focus shows a harm reduction rather than a punitive approach to drug misuse.

“The decision reflects a significant shift in the league’s approach to drug use by players, with the agreement emphasizing the need to focus on “ensuring evaluation and treatment” rather than punishment. Now those who test positive for drugs, exhibit behaviors that indicate drug misuse or self-refer themselves will be required to enter an “intervention program” where they would receive an evaluation and treatment plan.”

Getting back on the train, the next stop is the Mormon Church. Yes, you heard that one right! The Mormon Church hitched a ride on the medical marijuana train and is all in when it comes to medicinal weed. So what’s the deal? The Mormon Church was instrumental in the passage of medical cannabis in Utah in 2018 a red state, a conservative state. “On a Thursday in October 2018, a handful of Utah’s top lawmakers, representatives from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and medical marijuana advocates filed into the Gold Room, an ornate space in the state Capitol.”

“They were joined by the Utah Medical Association and law enforcement groups to announce a deal to legalize medical marijuana across the state.”

This was the Church’s party – pot party, that is. 

“You could just almost hear the teeth grinding of the law enforcement — and some of the other people that were sitting there — having to play nice and say ‘Oh yeah … this is all kumbaya.’ Because, it wasn’t,” said former Republican Utah state Sen. Mark Madsen, who worked to pass medical marijuana legislation. “The church made that happen.”

But it’s not what it seems. It’s not like the Church and its officials are going to kick back and light up to Neil Diamond and The Pot Smoker’s Song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqTpFFu2vDk

They wanted to control things so that “a bill would emerge that they could live with”.

“In May 2018, support for medical marijuana in Utah was at 72 percent. But opposition from the church and other groups significantly chipped away at its approval so that by October, support had dipped to 51 percent.”

“Behind the scenes, however, the church was working to forge a compromise that would result in a medical bill they could live with.”

So a bill emerged. But not one that was sufficient. 

“The bill that emerged from the compromise was more conservative than the referendum approved by voters. Patients can’t smoke marijuana flower — they can only vaporize it — and there is a lower monthly purchase limit that some advocates say is barely enough for patients with severe conditions.”

They definitely did not want people too medicated to say the least. 

“Beyond dolling out medical marijuana cards, doctors have the ability to prescribe specific amounts below the state-mandated monthly limits, and to limit patients to a specific type of product — edibles only, for example.”

“Fewer business licenses and qualifying conditions were allowed in the compromise bill. Every dispensary — or pharmacy, as they’re called in Utah — must also have a licensed pharmacist on hand to check each purchase against the statewide tracking system and the doctor’s prescription.”

The purpose of the “short leash” was lest people actually used it for recreational purposes. 

“Connor Boyack of the Libertas Institute, a Utah-based libertarian think tank, said the church’s position was focused on making sure the bill did not create loopholes that might allow for recreational use of marijuana. “They felt that our medical cannabis initiative was actually recreational — that was the nature of the opposition language during the campaign, and it was what they communicated in private conversation.”

I don’t think they got the memo on the roots of the word recreation. https://www.etymonline.com/word/recreation

“Etymology. The term recreation appears to have been used in English first in the late 14th century, first in the sense of “refreshment or curing of a sick person”, and derived turn from Latin (re: “again”, creare: “to create, bring forth, beget”).”

But for all the restrictions and that “the church initially suggested sales of marijuana flower be prohibited” Utah now has a robust medical market which other red states are looking at as a model for medical cannabis. Baby steps. 

“Utah anticipated that 10,000 patients would register in the first year of the program. The state hit that number in the first six months. As of February, there were more than 23,000 active cardholders, according to state records — a similar rate to both New York and North Dakota’s medical programs.”

“While cannabis advocates point to places where patients still could have better access or prices, and dispensary owners grumble about the expense of paying for pharmacists to be on-site at all times, most people view Utah’s program as a success. Other conservative states, in fact, are starting to look at Utah as a model they could follow.”

Utah’s medical program may also serve as a model in other conservative states because it was specifically designed to create a firewall against recreational pot.”

“There’s no appetite for recreational [in Utah],” said Boyack of the Libertas Institute. “And the LDS church would absolutely come and fight it.”

Hmmm…that would be one fight I would pay money to watch on the Senate floor when Chuck Schumer legalizes weed federally. Though there are dry counties with alcohol. https://www.alcoholproblemsandsolutions.org/dry-counties/ 

I suspect Utah will still regulate pot in some fashion as all states still will. Talk about Church and state! At least in the moment we are not asking the LDS to take a hit of LSD. Just kidding.  

If every week is like this week then in the words of one fellow psychonaut on Reddit:

StarShip2SpaceCake

“You can’t see ’em, but between this news and the recent CT cannabis news, my nutmegs swole af with pride”

“The future looks great!”

Could not have said it better myself. 

To keep up with all the other news on psychedelics and cannabis I invite you to read our other articles at:

https://darkmattersmag.com/

https://darkmattersmag.com/news/the-non-ordinary-state-of-debate/

https://darkmattersmag.com/news/do-you-know-your-psychedelic-stocks/

https://darkmattersmag.com/politics/the-busy-bee-of-weed-gavin-newsoms-california-comeback-plan-to-help-the-cannabis-industry/

https://darkmattersmag.com/news/will-california-open-the-door-for-safe-injection-sites-in-the-us/

https://darkmattersmag.com/news/the-hug-drug-and-and-the-lawyer-behind-the-scenes/

https://darkmattersmag.com/business/the-show-me-state-shows-us-a-better-path-for-cannabis-legalization/

https://darkmattersmag.com/business/new-york-will-be-the-15th-state-to-legalize-weed/

https://darkmattersmag.com/politics/cannabis-update-february-2021/

https://darkmattersmag.com/drugs/california-climbs-aboard-the-psychedelic-spaceship/

https://darkmattersmag.com/drugs/the-more-act-is-more-justice/

https://darkmattersmag.com/drugs/los-angeles-is-open-for-cannabis-business-a-land-of-opportunity-in-these-uncertain-times/

https://darkmattersmag.com/drugs/los-angeles-is-open-for-cannabis-business-a-land-of-opportunity-in-these-uncertain-times-2/

https://darkmattersmag.com/business/fighting-the-multi-headed-dragon/

Disclaimer: Absolutely nothing you read in here should be taken as investment advice. The discussion of securities and ideas is never to be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any.  Always do your own due diligence.

Author: Sherri Margolin (Dark Matters)

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