Will U.S. states legalize psychedelics by 2035? Company pledges not to sue Indigenous communities for violating patents, and Denver DA drops charges against “The Mushroom Rabbi.”
Plus: Boom and busts of shroom stores and Health Canada releases guidance on psychedelic trials
Happy Friday, and welcome back to The Microdose.
Will U.S. states legalize psychedelics by 2035?
A majority of U.S. states will legalize psychedelics by the mid-2030s, researchers predict in a new paper published in JAMA Psychiatry. That prediction is based on psychedelic reform bills introduced in recent years and a model based on the trajectory of marijuana legalization.
In their work, the researchers, a data scientist and two psychiatrists affiliated with Washington University in St. Louis, MO, tracked all psychedelics-related legislation in the U.S. between 2019 and September 2022. They found that half of all states have considered psychedelics reform, with 74 bills introduced over the last three and a half years. Nearly all bills (90%) address psilocybin or psilocybin-containing mushrooms specifically, and a majority (58%) propose some form of decriminalization or decreasing penalties for possession of some psychedelics. Roughly half of those bills (32) are still active, and 10 have been passed.
“It is possible that psychedelic reform will occur even more rapidly than cannabis reform due to the higher apparent likelihood of FDA approval, the early shift towards bipartisan legislative support, early interest in reform at the federal level, and the fact that marijuana reform has paved the way for increased access to Schedule I drugs,” the authors write. But, they point out, further consideration is needed on things like how to license prescribers and therapists, what kinds of “clinical and billing infrastructure” is needed by psychedelic therapy providers, as well as guidance for use by older adults, youth, and pregnant people.
Company pledges not to sue Indigenous communities for violating patents
In May, psychedelic company Journey Colab filed a patent application for use of synthetic mescaline to treat alcohol abuse disorder; that patent was recently published. Last week, the company published a patent non-assertion pledge on its website that applies to this patent application if it is approved, as well as any of the company’s future patents. In the pledge, Journey Colab promises it will not sue Indigenous communities or practitioners if they use traditional forms of mescaline and peyote in ways that would infringe on future patents. (It also specifically mentions that the non-assertion pledge does not apply to the company’s synthetic mescaline.)
The pledge “tries to balance using IP to develop a drug (to help the largest number of people) while also preserving the rights of traditional communities to keep using these treatments,” the company’s co-founder and CEO Jeeshan Chowdhury told The Microdose in an email. Psychedelic Alpha reports that though other companies have discussed creating similar pledges, Journey Colab is the first psychedelic drug developer or manufacturer to publicly release a written pledge.
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Denver DA drops charges against “The Mushroom Rabbi”
In February, Denver police arrested Rabbi Benjamin Gorelick, leader of The Sacred Tribe, a group that held psilocybin sessions and discussed Jewish trauma. Last week, the Denver District Attorney’s Office announced it was dropping its case against Gorelick. According to the Denver Post, a spokesperson from the DA’s office said the decision was influenced by the passage of Proposition 122. That ballot initiative was voted in by Coloradoans last month and paves the way for regulated psilocybin services in the future, while immediately decriminalizing at the state level adult “personal use” (but not sales) of psilocybin and psilocin.
Boom and busts of shroom stores
Last week, we reported on Shroom House, the Portland, Oregon store that was raided by local police for allegedly selling magic mushrooms. According to the Portland Police Bureau, twenty pounds of psilocybin mushrooms were seized, and the shop’s owner and manager were arrested and charged with money laundering and manufacturing or delivering a Schedule I controlled substance near a school, according to Willamette Week.
Meanwhile, two new shops selling mushrooms have popped up in Canada’s Ontario province: Magic Mush in Ottawa, and Mushroom Cabinet in Hamilton. “We’re interested in pushing forward and getting into legalization,” Matthew Francis, the Mushroom Cabinet’s spokesperson told The Hamilton Spectator. These stores are, of course, looking to profit by selling an illegal product that can be difficult to find elsewhere, but Francis’s remarks also speak to these stores’ desire to advance the conversation on legalizing psilocybin. In an interview with Willamette Week about Shroom House’s six-week run in Portland, psychedelic advocate and former Portland Psychedelic Society president Evan Segura says he believes Shroom House “wanted to push the envelope and create a decriminalization culture in Portland the same way they did in Vancouver, B.C. I think Shroom House did it a little too early in Portland.”
Health Canada releases guidance on psychedelic trials
Last week, Health Canada released a notice detailing best practices to manage risk in clinical trials using psychedelic-assisted therapy. Its recommendations weigh in on many issues clinicians and providers are discussing with regards to the ethics of psychedelic research, including informed consent, touch, and training.
The notice stated that all researchers submitting applications for psychedelic clinical trials must detail the qualifications of all therapists involved and that therapists are expected to be “properly trained on evidence-informed protocols.” (Health Canada does not provide further details on what that training should entail.) The agency goes on to say that at least two therapists must be present in any phase of a study in which a psychedelic drug is administered, and “lodging should be available on the day of the administration” in case participants need to be kept overnight for safety purposes. Researchers must also give participants a full list of physical and psychological risks before obtaining participants’ written informed consent, and participants also need to give consent for touch before psychedelics sessions.
Could psychedelics be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in first responders? CBC explores the question.
The Guardian reports on the Native American Church of North America’s fight to protect the peyote cactus.
According to a press release from Compass Pathways, the company presented preliminary data at the Annual Meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology suggesting that COMP360, the company’s formulation of psilocybin, was effective in treating type II bipolar disorder in an open-label study.
Psychedelics were the theme of the latest issue of the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. Articles explored topics like altered states during San Pedro cactus ceremonies and how people’s beliefs in the supernatural are related to their attitudes towards psychedelics use and legalization.
Roland Griffiths, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and founding director of the Johns Hopkins Center on Psychedelic and Consciousness Research announced the Roland R. Griffiths, Ph.D. Professorship Fund in Psychedelic Research on Secular Spirituality and Well-Being. Griffiths also appeared this week on The Tim Ferriss Show to discuss his stage IV cancer diagnosis, psychedelics, and meditation.
In Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, co-editors of a new academic journal called Psychedelic Medicine discuss its genesis and future.
You’re all caught up! Have a great weekend. We’ll be back in your inbox on Monday with a new issue of 5 Questions, which will be our last issue of the year. Wishing you a restful end of 2022, and see you in 2023.
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