VC embrace of psychedelics comes with caveats

VC embrace of psychedelics comes with caveats

Psychedelics are serving as a new frontier for venture capitalists. I have some friends who are a part of psychedelic companies that are looking to exponentially grow much like a Silicon Valley unicorn. Two such firms have already gone public: COMPASS Pathways and MindMed. This isn’t surprising. Psychedelics offer better a solution for depression and anxiety than Big Pharma. Also, tides are turning in Oregon and California where these substances are being decriminalized and the FDA is looking into researching psychedelic-based therapeutics. But there’s an ethical quandary to consider.

Is the goal to build a company and make lots of money or give people access to completely disrupt healthcare and better solutions for treating PTSD and severe depression? You almost have these two conflicting interests. MindMed put together a patent for an MDMA-LSD combination, which recreationally is known as candy flipping. My fear is manipulating the science just to earn patents that dominate the marketplace. Technically, it’s impossible to patent a mushroom that grows from the ground, but some companies have indeed patented a form of psilocybin that was almost exactly the same as the natural substance. Business and moral imperatives may be on a collision course.

Just look at the commercialization and legalization of the marijuana industry, which can easily serve as a template for psychedelics. Although there are medical uses for marijuana in terms of, say, stimulating appetite for cancer or AIDS patients and pain management, there’s no application for psychiatric or psychotherapeutic treatment. Whatever the eventual outcome, it’s a cautionary tale about cutting edge meta medicines in the psychedelic realm not following the same model that we’ve seen with marijuana, which is really more of a competition bred type of industry.

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