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Psilocybin initiative moves ahead in Colorado, COMPASS patent challenge, and psychedelics companies react to the fall of Roe v. Wade
Plus: ex-Mormons on mushrooms and The Latest in Oregon
Happy Friday, and welcome back to The Microdose. Here’s the news of the week:
The State of Psychedelics: Colorado Initiative 58 advances. The Microdose first reported in February that Colorado activists are trying to advance two psychedelics-related ballot initiatives for inclusion in the state’s November election. Initiative 61, supported by Decriminalize Colorado, proposes that “possession, use, cultivation, production, sharing, giving away, and delivery of entheogenic plants and fungi” between adults older than 21 would no longer be a violation of state law. Initiative 58, backed by Natural Medicine Colorado, would establish psilocybin services in the state, as well as the possibility of adding other “natural medicines” like DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline by 2026. Denver photojournalist Jacob Curtis reports that Coloradoans have concerns about both proposals: some fear that Initiative 61 goes too far in decriminalizing psychedelic drugs state-wide, while others think Initiative 58’s establishment of a psilocybin industry will court big companies while leaving out lower-income residents seeking therapy.
Both initiatives require nearly 125,000 signatures to qualify for the state’s November ballot, and early this week, The Denver Post reported that Natural Medicine Colorado has gathered 222,648 signatures supporting Initiative 58, and submitted those signatures to the Secretary of State’s office.
Challenge to COMPASS patent rejected. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board has denied two challenges to two patents granted to UK-based mental health company Compass Pathways. The USPTO granted Compass two patents in March 2021 for what the company claims is a novel form of synthetic psilocybin. In December 2021, the patent watchdog non-profit group Freedom To Operate filed petitions for post-grant review of those two patents, challenging Compass’s claims that the patented formulation of psilocybin is novel. As supporting evidence, FTO included analyses of archival samples of psilocybin that showed Compass’s formulation, which they call Polymorph A, is actually a mixture of two previously known forms of psilocybin.
In both challenges, the appeal board ruled that Freedom To Operate “has failed to show it is more likely than not that any of the challenged claims…are unpatentable.” Specifically, the appeal board determined that the psilocybin forms Freedom To Operate referenced are not exactly identical to Polymorph A.
In a statement, Freedom to Operate founder Carey Turnbull said the organization disagreed with the decision, but that the “extremely narrow interpretation” of Polymorph A that the appeal board laid out in their decision could be helpful to other companies hoping to manufacture synthetic psilocybin. This more specific definition of the drug means other companies have “wide latitude to produce and commercialize psilocybin without risk of violating the Compass patents,” Turnbull said.
There has never been a more exciting – or bewildering – time in the world of psychedelics. Don’t miss a beat.
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Psychedelics companies react to the fall of Roe v. Wade. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week to overturn Roe v. Wade, some states have already banned access to abortion, with more states to follow. Psychedelics market analysis company Psychedelic Alpha is keeping track of how psychedelics companies are responding. In their newsletter, founder Josh Hardman writes that Compass Pathways will cover travel costs for any employees who need to travel to another state for an abortion, while Field Trip is considering a similar policy. Hardman also mentioned that psychedelic venture capitalist Brom Rector suggested the psychedelics industry “could vote with our wallets” and move conferences or events from states that restrict abortion access. At least two upcoming psychedelics conferences — Wonderland in Miami, Florida and Psychedemia in Columbus, Ohio — will take place in states where abortion access is threatened.
The Latest in Oregon: Linn County opposes Measure 109. Though Measure 109 passed in Oregon with 56% of the vote, not all Oregonians who voted in November 2020 support the state’s plan to offer psilocybin services. Last week, commissioners in Linn County, a rural county in the Willamette Valley, proposed a ballot measure banning psilocybin services, production, or manufacturing.
One commissioner told High Times that he was afraid young people would die if psilocybin were legal; another raised concerns about whether first responders could reach rural areas quickly enough in the case of a drug-related medical emergency. Linn County residents will vote on this new measure for a county-wide ban psilocybin services in November.
The business of psychedelic training programs. In 2023, Oregon will become the first U.S. state to offer psilocybin services, and Colorado’s Initiative 58 could make that state a close second. Practitioners of psilocybin services must undergo training; Oregon has just begun the process of approving training programs, and so far, six programs have been approved. This week, finance news site Benzinga asks: can psychedelics therapy training become a profitable business?
Data and analysis company Psychedelic Invest has launched a global map and database of educational institutions studying psychedelics.
Journalist Cassady Rosenblum writes in Rolling Stone about the ex-Mormons who have turned to Divine Assembly, a new church that considers psilocybin a sacrament. This story was reported with the support of the Ferriss-UC Berkeley Psychedelic Journalism Fellowship.
Speaking of which, journalists, do you have a psychedelics story to report? The Ferriss-UC Berkeley Psychedelic Journalism Fellowship is awarding $10,000 reporting grants. Applications are due July 31, and you can find more info and an application here.
The Daily Yonder interviews Erin Reading, co-founder of Washington state’s Port Townsend Psychedelic Society, about psychedelics advocacy in rural communities.
The New York Times reports on the first psychedelic therapy studies for veterans at VA hospitals since the 1960s.
You’re all caught up! Have a great weekend. We’ll be on vacation July 4th, but we’ll be back in your inboxes next Friday with another issue of This Week in Psychedelics.
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