It’s fitting that 2020 - a year that caused massive anxiety and stress - was also a breakthrough year for psychedelic therapies. Mushrooms, ketamine, MDMA and other drugs are proving to successfully treat mental health and addiction issues.
Promising psychedelic research began in the 1950s. In fact, the Weyburn Mental Hospital in Weyburn, Sask., was a leader in research on LSD as a treatment for alcoholism and other mental health conditions.
In the late 1960s, as recreational use of LSD increased, the perception of psychedelics began to change. By 1968, LSD was outlawed in both Canada and the US. But new and extremely promising research is bringing psychedelic therapy back.
Psychedelic Research Yields Results
“Psychedelics are back and they offer transformation in a world that desperately needs it,” the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) Canada states on its website. “Current research with psychedelics is yielding promising results in the treatment of trauma, end of life anxiety, depression and addiction.”
For example, a study by John Hopkins University, published Nov. 4, 2020, found that psilocybin (mushroom) assisted therapy led to “large, rapid and sustained antidepressant effects in patients with major depressive disorder.” After a single week of psilocybin treatment, nearly 60 percent of the cohort were no longer classified as clinically depressed.
Canada Pioneers Psilocybin Treatment
Canada is a leader in allowing patients access to psychedelic therapy. In August 2020, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu granted four terminally ill patients legal use of psilocybin as treatment for end-of-life distress.
One of the first patients, Thomas Hartle, told The GrowthOp, he “enjoyed the best sleep he’s had since receiving his terminal cancer diagnosis four years ago. In the week that has passed since that dose, Hartle hasn’t had a single anxiety attack, he said, a personal record.”
By December, 14 patients had received the legal exemption to use psilocybin. Expect more therapies to come, as 17 healthcare professionals were also given the green light to possess and use the fungus-derived compound for professional training in psilocybin therapy.
Psychedelics Hit the (Stock) Market
The combo of legal reform and promising research is attracting financial interest and IPOs.
Leading the way, MindMed (NEO: MMED) became the first psychedelics company to list on a public stock exchange, debuting on Canada’s NEO Exchange. It’s backed by two high-profile investors: ex-Canopy CEO Bruce Linton and Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary. Since then, at least 20 more firms have gone public on various exchanges north and south of the border.
Also in March, Field Trip (CSE:FTRP) opened its first medical clinic in downtown Toronto. Inside, patients are dosed with ketamine, which is legal in Canada for medicinal use, and undergo psychedelic-enhanced psychotherapy. The plan is to have as many as 60 clinics operating nationally by 2023.
Another first happened in October, when Vancouver-based Numinus Wellness Inc. (TSXV: NUMI) completed its first harvest of psilocyben mushrooms. In June, Numinus became the first publicly traded company licenced by Health Canada to produce and extract psilocybin from mushrooms.
“Now, we can progress with research and development of standardized cultivation, extraction and testing methods, and exploring product formulations to support safe, evidence-based, accessible psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy,” Michael Tan, the company’s chief operating officer, told the GrowthOp.If you want to stay informed about the emerging psychedelics industry, a good source is the Canadian Report on Psychedelics. Its weekly briefing aims to cover the most important developments in psychedelic research and investing.