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Brief Published: 17 Jun 2019

Are Psychedelics the Next Cannabis?

Double Blind
Double Blind

Two US cities – Denver and Oakland – have both recently decriminalised psilocybin (aka magic) mushrooms. This development signals that psychedelics are following the trajectory of cannabis; once seen as counterculture, but increasingly embraced for their therapeutic and even spiritual benefits. We examine investors and consumers already exploring their potential.

In 2017, we identified rising interest in hallucinogenics for improving mental health in our Modern Mysticism report, and noted Silicon Valley’s uptake of microdosing psychedelics for creativity and concentration in Career Pioneers. Meanwhile, millennials blending ancient rituals with self-care and spiritualism (see Fashion’s Nu Spiritualists) started taking to the traditional Amazonian psychedelic ayahuasca (now also decriminalised in Oakland), along with peyote.

Michael Pollan’s 2018 book How to Change Your Mind – exploring psychedelics’ potential to alter consciousness and treat end-of-life anxiety, addiction and depression – puts a prominent endorsement on the trend: the US author helped kickstart the clean-eating movement. His book is rising up the New York Times bestseller list.

Pollan's book explores psychedelics’ potential to alter consciousness and treat end-of-life anxiety, addiction and depression

Devoted to examining psychedelics through a contemporary lens, LA-based publication Double Blind recently printed its first issue. The editors believe that by healing through mystical experiences, psychedelics could “shift how the Western medical community perceives wellness more broadly”.

In the pharmaceutical sphere, British drug company Compass Pathways is testing a psilocybin therapy for depression which has been fast-tracked by the US Federal Drug Administration. And appealing wellness retreats are opening to facilitate psychedelic experiences. Synthesis in the Netherlands, launched in 2018, expects to see 600-700 clients for its three-day psilocybin retreats this year.

Speaking on a cannabis panel at last month’s Collision conference in Toronto, American venture capitalist Bradley Tusk said that whilst it’s still super-early, he’s starting to explore opportunities to invest in psilocybin.

As cannabis goes mainstream, we’re keeping an eye on the Experimentalist consumers identified in Stylus’ 2019 Consumer Zodiac – an open-minded demographic that’s smashing old taboos – as they push into more challenging territory.

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