🫠 This Week in Psychedelics

[4-min read] MindMed patents antidepressant-psychedelic combination treatment.

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Here’s what we got this week.

  • MindMed’s controversial patent 🍄

  • Brain “fingerprints” on psychedelics 🧠

  • What’s new in California 🥑

  • The first psychedelic card game 🃏

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MICRODOSES
🔬 Research

Don’t call it a flashback: A journalist with first-hand experience shares everything he’s learned about Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder.
Mechanism of action: Leading scientists still disagree on how psychedelics work.
Love and war: UCSD researchers are giving MDMA therapy to veterans and their intimate partners.
A moral imperative: Reset Pharma is approved to test its psilocybin product in cancer patients with demoralization syndrome.

🏛️ Policy

So it begins: Minnesota’s Psychedelic Medicine Task Force just met to discuss legalization.
Weed killer: A new report describes how the War on Drugs has fueled the climate crisis.
We’ll take some: The DEA set its 2024 research manufacturing quotas for each controlled substance. This year, ibogaine is up 5x.
If it pleases the court: A US federal appeals court is requiring the DEA to reconsider a petition to reschedule psilocybin.

📈 Business

Supply chain problems: The wild west of ketamine prescribing has led to a drug shortage.
Like and share: Meta is ignoring advice from its oversight board to crack down on psychedelic posts.
Now that’s a bust: Police raided a 21-year-old’s house and found $8.5 million worth of shrooms.
Keep Austin weird: SXSW has announced its 2024 lineup, which includes 13 sessions on psychedelics.

🫠 Just for fun

Can’t nobody hold me down: Sean “Diddy” Combs talks about his his Bufo experience.
The Psychedelic Cup: See the winners from Denver’s first mushroom-growing competition.
Meme of the week: When you diligently prepare for a psychedelic journey

THE PEAK EXPERIENCE
Well now I am not doing it

Can they really patent that?

While the kids were out trick-or-treating last week, something much spookier was going down in psychedelic business.

On Halloween, MindMed squeaked out a patent that has been raising eyebrows left and right. The psychedelic biotech is trying to claim ownership over “pre-treating” patients with Lexapro before psilocybin therapy.

Seems kinda shady, right? We’re not lawyers, but as luck would have it, we know a guy who specializes in IP law for psychedelic ventures. Here’s what he seems to be saying (if you read between the lines).

  • 🤨 The “invention” isn’t new. People have been using SSRIs and psychedelics together for a while now. And we’ve got receipts. A nonprofit that challenges bad patents dug up 18 such references, but the USPTO still didn’t object.

  • 🧐 The justification is sketchy. MindMed’s application points to veteran suicide rates to argue their invention fulfills a “significant unmet need.” Yes, we have a big problem. But is it really fair to say this cocktail addresses it any better than, say, psilocybin on its own?

  • 😬 The claims are flimsy. MindMed claims the dual treatment is superior, but the jury is still out on the risk-benefit of combining SSRIs with psychedelics. Research findings are mixed, and some medical experts still consider it dangerous to mix serotonergic drugs.

And yet, the patent was granted. Now the million-dollar question is, how will it be enforced? And considering MindMed’s pipeline is built on LSD, not psilocybin, what’s the end-game here?

Whatever happens, please just don’t let anyone patent the combination of nature walks and psychedelics. Because we’d lose it if we needed someone’s permission to forest bathe on mushies. 🫠

AFTERGLOW
Brain got hands

Brain got hands fingerprints

You think you’re special, huh? Okay, we admit it; you are. But so far, science has struggled to visualize what makes someone’s response to psychedelics unique—neurologically speaking, of course. Now, thanks to a new-ish technique called “brain fingerprinting,” researchers can pick out the brain activity patterns specific to an individual. And that means personalized psychedelic medicine may be closer than we thought. 

In a recent study, a group of Swiss neuroscientists captured brain fingerprints (aka functional connectomes) from healthy volunteers who’d taken psilocybin. Compared to participants who got the placebo, the psilocybin group as a whole showed distinctive activity in the Default Mode Network. But individually, each volunteer still had a signature response—no two fingerprints alike.

Even if it’s still a ways out, a goal of brain fingerprinting is to inform personalized medicine. If we know how someone’s brain will react to different psychedelics, it might be possible to tailor specific treatments for conditions like depression or addiction. And who knows? Maybe we’ll even be able to predict whether looking in the mirror on acid will send you into an existential tailspin, or entertain you for hours on end.

California cannot—WILL not—give up the fight

When Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed California’s decrim bill, psychedelic advocates apparently took that as a challenge, not a sign of defeat. Since then, we’ve seen a new 2024 ballot proposal (because three’s better than two, right?), and now we have a renewed push from the state legislature, too.

Scott Wiener, the state Senator behind the rejected bill, is already winding up for his next shot on goal. This week, he shared his plans on X to partner with Republican Marie Waldron on bipartisan legislation that will allow regulated therapeutic psychedelic use, following Colorado’s model. To appease Newsom, the new bill will ditch the decrim piece altogether.

Meanwhile, TREAT California, the initiative that would have established a $5 billion state funding agency for psychedelic medicine, is making a hard pivot. After polls showed that voters simply don’t trust the government with that kind of cash, TREAT’s leadership said we’re making lemonade outta these lemons and launched a more inclusive nonprofit, dubbed TREAT Humanity. Take that, California supremacy.

CYCLISTS’ PICKS
UNTIL NEXT TIME

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ONE CYCLIST’S REVIEW
Feeling euphoric

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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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