🫠 This Week in Psychedelics

[5-min read] California psychedelic therapy bill gets killed in committee.

Welcome to Tricycle Day. Spinning up a regulated psychedelics program is expensive. But you know what’s not? This newsletter, which will always be free. (Big ups to our sponsors for making it possible!)

Here’s what we got this week.

  • Psychedelics and stress in the family 🧑‍🧑‍🧒‍🧒

  • California legalization bill killed in committee 🔪

  • Lykos vs ICER drama develops 🍿

  • Become a microdosing facilitator 🤌

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🔬 Research

A world of hurt: Psychedelics could treat some of the worst chronic pain.
K(iss) and make up: Could ketamine enhance couples therapy?
Enjoy that cheese: Psilocybin helps anorexic rats maintain a healthy weight.
Ashes to ashes: People who overcome their fear of death after taking psychedelics share this one metaphysical belief.
Winner, winner, mushroom dinner: Harvard’s Study of Psychedelics in Society and Culture announced its first funding recipients.

🏛️ Policy

50 years in the making: The Biden administration has begun the process to reschedule cannabis.
Mind your business: The DOJ called its historic settlement with the Church of the Eagle and the Condor “irrelevant” to an ongoing lawsuit involving another ayahuasca church.
Approved! Maryland’s Task Force on Responsible Use of Natural Psychedelic Substances is a go.
Military spending: The VA is ready to spend “at least in the millions” of dollars on psychedelic clinical trials.
It’s called reciprocity, honey. Look it up: An Amazonian chief is calling on the UN to stop the plundering of traditional knowledge for profit.

📈 Business

Changing of the guard: atai Life Sciences’ co-founder is stepping down as CEO.
Sound the alarm: Former MAPS employees made some disturbing allegations about the org’s culture and business practices.
Not for the Philistines: A new psychedelic print magazine is coming soon, thanks to a Harvard grant.
RIP: Ken Jordan, the editorial director and cofounder of Lucid News, has passed away.

🫠 Just for fun

The creative spark: How psychedelics are influencing modern design.
Giant dancing bears: Dead & Company are filling the Las Vegas Sphere with trippy visuals for 24 days.
No judgment: A rich 15-year-old kid has dedicated his youth to drinking ayahuasca.
Spiritual shapes: What is sacred geometry and why does it appear in every culture?
Meme of the week: Going out with your friends from before you started microdosing

THE PEAK EXPERIENCE
Parents stepping out for their own and only act of self-care of the year

The householder’s dilemma

The Notorious B.I.G. said it best: Mo’ family members, mo’ problems.

Those were the lyrics, right? 🤔

Ah whatever. This isn’t a hip hop newsletter. We’re here to talk about psychedelics. And this week, we’re breaking down a recent study on how psychedelics affect people in different family roles and environments.

Researchers pooled data from a large national survey and analyzed it for trends across household size, marital status, psychedelic use, and stress. Here’s what they found.

  • 🙌 The good: People who took psychedelics experienced less psychological distress overall, even after controlling for marital status and household size.

  • 😔 The bad: People who live in larger households have more psychological distress. That goes for psychedelic users, too.

  • 👹 The ugly: The link between household size and distress was strongest (i.e., the worst) among psychedelic users who were married, divorced, and widowed.

So, here’s the bottom line. It seems that larger households can weaken the positive association between psychedelic use and health, especially for household heads.

Maybe it’s the weight of responsibility moms and dads face as their families grow that keeps them from integrating the good juju from psychedelics. Or maybe it’s the other way around—they’re seeking relief or clarity from psychedelics because they’re so stressed.

Correlation doesn’t imply causation, so we won’t get carried away. Can’t you see? Sometimes the data just hypnotize me. 🫠

AFTERGLOW

California knows how to party-poop

For California, third time wasn’t a charm. This week, the bill that would have legalized the therapeutic use of psilocybin under professional supervision was killed in the Senate Appropriations Committee. That’s the third attempt at easing restrictions on psychedelics from Sen. Scott Wiener that’s been shot down since 2021. But who’s counting?

Let’s roll the tape. In Feb ‘21, Wiener introduced SB 519 to decriminalize psychedelics statewide. That first bill was gutted, so he came back in Jan ‘23 with SB 58, a similar decrim bill focused narrowly on plant and fungi medicine (buh-bye, LSD and MDMA). But Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed SB 58 in October, citing the need for therapeutic guardrails. Of course, that’s exactly what Wiener delivered with SB 1012, and yet here we are—at another impasse because psychedelics didn’t make the budget cuts.

It’s not totally over for Cali, though. A dialed-back proposal focused on furthering research and designing a framework for regulated therapeutic access (eventually, possibly, maybe someday?) is still alive. If costs are the concern though, idk. That all sounds a whole lot more expensive than just decriminalizing psychedelics and moving on, doesn’t it?

You can’t spell DRAMA without MDMA

Is it hot in here, or is it just us? The nonprofit Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) just dropped a revised report on Lykos Therapeutics' MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD, and—surprise, surprise—they're still not buying it. Despite receiving 16 comments from Lykos, researchers, and advocacy groups, ICER maintains that the evidence is "insufficient."

As you might guess, Lykos is not happy. In their public comment, they accuse ICER of ignoring patients' needs, relying on limited perspectives, and overstepping into FDA territory. But ICER claps back, saying Lykos straight-up refused to collaborate or provide contacts. Meanwhile, Otsuka, a Big Pharma giant that conveniently acquired a psychedelics company last year and happens to be developing a PTSD treatment of its own, agrees with ICER's concerns. Hmmm. 

The plot thickens: turns out, MAPS founder Rick Doblin was the one who suggested ICER review MDMA-assisted therapy in the first place. Now, ICER's appraisal committees are gearing up for a public showdown on May 30. Can you believe this bout isn’t going down on pay-per-view? What a time to be alive.

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DISCLAIMER: This newsletter is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. The use, possession, and distribution of psychedelic drugs are illegal in most countries and may result in criminal prosecution.

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