Out of the haze and into the light, Canadians are finally waking from their 50-year psychedelic slumber.
Once thought to be a lost generation of marmalade skies, the psychedelic counterculture of the 1960s has evolved into a modern medical renaissance. It is one that is transforming psychiatry in the way we treat mental illness and relieve palliative and end-of-life suffering. It also represents a huge opportunity to Atlantic Canada, both in healthcare and economic growth.
Across the world, clinical experts, scientists, and entrepreneurs for the first time in decades are fueling the psychedelic resurgence of these non-addictive, plant-based medicines, mainly psilocybin (aka magic mushrooms). Just in the past month, Sanjay Singhal, the Canadian tech entrepreneur and former Frederictonian who founded and sold Audiobooks.com, gifted $5 million from his Nikean Foundation to Toronto’s University Health Network, establishing Canada’s first Psychedelic Psychotherapy Research Centre.
To date, the eye-watering investment flow of capital into this emergent space is feeding the supply chain of life sciences companies all-in on transforming psychedelics from illicit to licit to the tune of almost $900 million.
Consider this: globally, the market for psychedelic drugs and therapies is projected to grow from $4.7 billion to $10.8 billion in less than seven years. By then, federal regulations approving the use of psychedelics such as MDMA, psilocybin, LSD, mescaline, and 5-MeO-DMT for therapeutic and medicinal purposes will be a thing of the past. As federal regulators demand to see more proof establishing the safety and efficacy of these controlled substances via clinical trials and other science-based evaluations, industry continues to respond with smart supply.
Take Halucenex Life Sciences, for example. The Windsor, N.S.-based company recently secured its Dealers License to work towards a phase II clinical trial to test the efficacy of psilocybin when used to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. It has also secured a research collaboration agreement with Acadia University to develop a soft gel capsule drug delivery format containing CBD and psilocybin.
The socio-economic benefits of tapping into the multi-segmented psychedelics industry are endless. From supply manufacturing and the cultivation of natural/synthetic psychedelic drug products to advanced tech applications, telemedicine, R&D, and clinical trials, the space is wide open for development and could lead to significant job creation and conference and eco-tourism benefits.
With our educational capacity in the sciences already an attractive feature, Atlantic innovation hubs like Volta, Ignite Atlantic, and jurisdictional economic development agencies should be partnering with top psychedelic companies and academic researchers to brainstorm and bootstrap technology and medical solutions to our spiraling mental health crisis.
In Nova Scotia, the Tim Houston government has pledged more than $400 million to improve healthcare and has focused its priorities on mental health. The good news is that psychedelic companies, investors, and research institutes see this as a positive signal that Nova Scotia is open for ideas and innovative solutions.
A 2020 economic study conducted by the Multidisciplinary Association on Psychedelic Studies found healthcare cost savings of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD to be greater than $103.2 million with a return of 5,553 Quality of Life Years per 1,000 patients.
Let’s reframe this.
This translates into a cost-savings of $103,200 per patient over a 30-year treatment horizon. This is more than just validation of the commercial potential of the psychedelic drug industry.
With 90,000 veterans and thousands of first responders working or retired in Atlantic Canada, the savings on treatment for PTSD would be astronomical, not to mention the impact psychedelic therapies would have on increased productivity, lower disability payments, and re-integration into the work force.
Psychedelic medicine and therapy are here to stay. If we open our arms and embrace the social and compassionate abundance of their healing powers, Atlantic Canada could be the beneficiary of a global medical and economic movement not seen in decades.
The slumber is over.
Michael Kydd is the Founder and Principal of the Kydder Group, which provides regulatory communication services to small businesses and publicly-traded companies in the growing psychedelic therapy and manufacturing markets.