This Week in Psychedelics
[5-min read] The first legal psilocybin center is here.
Welcome to Tricycle Day. We’re the plant medicine of newsletters. From the outside, we look harmless enough. But once you let us in, we’ll change your whole life.
Here’s what we got this week.
Ibogaine, but cleaner 🧼
The first legal psilocybin center 🍄
Shareholder drama at MindMed 🧠
Dr. Phil tackles microdosing 💊
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The top stories in psychedelic research, policy, and business
Ibogaine inspires 2 new drugs for addiction and depression
For millennia, indigenous Africans have used the iboga plant as a sacrament for spiritual growth and medicine for physical healing.
This week, Western scientists identified 2 new molecules based on ibogaine, the psychoactive compound in the plant’s roots. They’re hoping the drugs will make cleaner treatments for addiction and depression.
It took dozens of researchers from UCSF, Yale, and Duke working together to find the 2 needles in the haystack. Here’s how they whittled it down.
200 million molecules were virtually screened to find the ones that blocked the serotonin transporter (SERT) protein the same way as ibogaine 🖥️
49 “docked” (or inserted into) SERT in the virtual screening 👉👌
36 were synthesized and tested 🧪
13 successfully inhibited SERT ❌
5 were prioritized based on VR-guided “docking parties” 🥳
The 2 most potent were submitted for rigorous testing in animal models 🐁
Oh he’s winning alright.
So why go through all this trouble when we know natural iboga works?
The new drugs inhibit SERT like ibogaine, but their effect is more potent and selective. In other words, you can reduce the dose by 200x, get the same desired outcome, and eliminate some pretty gnarly side effects.
Thing is, ibogaine binds to a lot of targets beyond SERT. As one of the researchers put it, it’s “a dirty drug.”
Now that’s saying something, coming from a dude who just docked 200 million proteins. 😳
👹 Have no fear, psilocybin is here: A study found that psilocybin significantly improved “fear extinction” in mice by increasing neuroplasticity in the hippocampus. The findings suggest psilocybin could be helpful in treating PTSD.
🌈 Red light, green light: Based on a recent case study, psilocybin may improve color blindness. The authors think psychedelics produce a “new color experience” by tying hallucinations to pre-existing concepts of colors.
🍆 Well endowed: Psychedelic elder, Roland Griffiths has launched a professorship fund at Johns Hopkins University to support empirical research with psychedelic substances. So far, donors have pledged about $16.5 million to the fund.
🤝 Drug deal: The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) are joining forces to expand and accelerate psychedelic research, according to NIDA’s director at a Senate hearing.
🕸️ Dark web traffic: A team of ecological researchers identified 153 different plant, fungi, and animal species for sale on the dark web. 90% of those listings were advertised as recreational drugs.
Oregon’s first legal psilocybin center is in business
It’s a historic milestone, not just because adults can finally trip in a fully legal, non-medical, supervised setting (though that alone is major). Oregon has now approved at least one license from each of the four psilocybin business categories: manufacturer, facilitator, testing lab, and service center.
But legal doesn’t always mean accessible. Get a load of these prices. 😬
Prices for mushroom sessions at the first legal, licensed psilocybin clinic in the United States.
— Rich Haridy (@RichHaridy)
May 7, 2023
Note: the medicine itself ($15/gram) is not included. Lol.
Now before you assume the EPIC team must be soulless grifters looking to capitalize on their temporary monopoly, keep in mind that running a psychedelic clinic is NOT cheap.
Between licenses, training, insurance, and other startup expenses, EPIC owner Cathy Jonas spent 60 grand to open her psilocybin practice… and she already had a physical space! She projects it’ll take 6 months just to break even.
OHA estimates at least a dozen businesses like EPIC will be operating in Oregon by the end of the year. Costs may come down with scale, but unfortunately, they’ll probably still be prohibitive for many until federal regulations catch up.
Back to the underground we go. 👇
☕ Washington’s Jefferson County has passed a resolution to decriminalize entheogens, marking the nation’s first county-level decriminalization.
⛷️ Colorado’s bill to create a regulatory framework for legal psychedelics has been sent to the governor for final signoff.
🐻 California lawmakers sent a bill to decriminalize plant-based psychedelics straight to the Senate, bypassing a committee vote.
🧀 Vermont House committee members discussed plans to prioritize psilocybin legislation next year.
MindMed investors attempt a hostile takeover of the company
There’s drama stirring at MindMed, one of the OG movers in the psychedelic biotech industry.
A group of early investors, who collectively own about 5% of the company, are not happy with the current management’s “track record of shareholder value destruction.” Yikes. So they’re staging a coup.
The group goes by the name Freeman Capital Management (FCM), which may sound familiar if you’ve been following MindMed from the early days. That’s because FCM’s leader, Jake Freeman, is the son of MindMed co-founder and former Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Scott Freeman. (He was the first senior exec out the door.) ✌️
FCM wants to replace the Board of Directors with their own picks, which surprise surprise, include Dr. Scott himself.
They blame the current leadership for the “critical delays, ill-conceived and botched regulatory strategies, excessive spending and compensation, and destructive financings” that have caused MindMed’s stock price to crash. ($MNMD currently trades for about $3, down from an all-time-high of $68 in April 2021.)
MindMed isn’t going to just sit by and let it happen though. They’ve sent a letter (shoot, they launched an entire website) defending their actions and asking shareholders to reelect their management team at the next annual meeting.
We’re not picking sides, but we’ll say this... it’s not just MindMed. The psychedelic sector as a whole has seen a correction from peak hype. And let’s not forget the entire economy has been teetering on the edge of recession.
Considering ol’ Jake made $110 million gambling on meme stonks in 2021, there’s a tiny sliver of a chance he has unreasonable expectations for $MNMD’s performance.
We like the stock… or do we? 🤔
🎀 Grand opening: Incannex Healthcare has entered a lease for its first clinic in Melbourne, Australia. The company’s subsidiary, Clarion Clinics, will be the first dedicated psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy business in Australia.
🍄 It’s not a panac– oh wait: Actually, it is. Colorado-based Panacea Life Sciences is working on a line of Amanita Muscaria products. The emoji mushroom, aka Fly Agaric, is fully legal and has been prized for its psychoactive properties for millennia.
🌿 Plant-to-patent pipeline: NY-based Terran Biosciences has applied for IP protection over new, non-hallucinogenic compounds inspired by DMT and ibogaine.
⛓️ Supply chain wars: Optimi Health landed a $1.2 million CAD contract to supply a commercial customer with psilocybin. Meanwhile, Core One is hustling to establish itself as “the leading full-cycle psychedelics supply chain solution.”
Hot takes from around the web
Our favorite opportunities for mind expansion
AP Chem — For those who want to feel beautiful, inside and out, AP Chem is a science-forward, age-decelerating skincare brand with… psychedelic tendencies. Co-founded by a leading NYC dermatologist and beauty industry veteran, the brand has planted its flag in support of alternative modalities of healing, especially psychedelic medicine.
FYI, the advocacy goes beyond cheeky product names like EYEahuasca. A portion of all sales goes toward The Ketamine Fund, a non-profit organization that provides free ketamine treatment to veterans suffering from PTSD.
Dr. Phil on Mushrooms — Microdosing has crossed the final frontier… daytime talk shows. Be warned, things get a little spicy as Tracey Tee from Moms on Mushrooms goes toe-to-toe with Debi Nadler, co-founder of Moms Against Drugs, and Dr. Phil moderates in his signature monotone drone.
Spoiler alert: Clearly Dr. Phil hasn’t been reading Tricycle Day if he thinks there’s a lack of research on psilocybin.
Be Here Now — Take in the seminal work by Ram Dass, beloved spiritual teacher and former Harvard professor once known as Richard Alpert. The book is a reflection of Ram Dass's transformation from stuffy psychologist to counterculture icon, inspired by his experiences with psychedelics in the 1960s.
This book never gets old. Open to any page for an instant reminder that the only moment that exists is this one. Right here, right now.
That’s all for today. Before you head off, don’t forget to share, rate, and review Tricycle Day below. Catch ya next time, Cyclists! ✌️
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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.