This Week in Psychedelics

Canadian senators call for immediate launch of massive psychedelic research program; plus updates from PharmAla and Clearmind.

November 11, 2023

This Week...

A Canadian Senate committee called on the federal government to launch a “large-scale research program” to explore the therapeutic potential of psychedelics to treat mental health conditions that commonly afflict military veterans.

At a press conference on Wednesday, the Senate Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs unveiled a report that recommends “the immediate implementation of a robust research program” funded by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and the Department of Defence, in partnership with federal health agencies, to carry out studies into the efficacy of psychedelic-assisted therapy for veterans with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Check it out:

PharmAla Biotech Holdings, a biotechnology company focused on the research, development, and manufacturing of novel MDXX class molecules (including MDMA), announced that it completed its first shipment of MDMA and psilocybin to Cortexa, its 50:50 Australian Joint Venture with Virtual Health Limited.

This shipment marks the first time that any molecules recently re-scheduled under the Authorized Prescriber Scheme were brought into Australia explicitly for use under that scheme, rather than for clinical trial purposes. The shipment, completed in several parts, includes both psilocybin and MDMA, and contains both API and finished drug product capsules.

Here’s more:

Clearmind Medicine announced that it entered into a Clinical Trial Agreement with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, to conduct its Phase I/IIa clinical trial of its proprietary MEAI-based CMND-100 as a potential treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

The clinical trial is a multinational, multi-center, single- and multiple-dose tolerability, safety and pharmacokinetic study in healthy volunteers and AUD subjects.

Clearmind’s flagship treatment is focused on AUD, which is an extremely common and devastating condition. The addiction varies from mild to acute and describes a person’s inability to control their alcohol consumption, despite negative health, social, and occupational consequences. In the clinical trial, oral capsules will be administered once daily for ten consecutive days. The patients will report their drinking patterns and craving for alcohol (and cigarettes) during the clinical trial period. Patients will also be monitored for their depression symptoms. Check it out:

Did You Know?

Did you know that a 2015 presentation on Ayahuasca by Graham Hancock was banned after organizers argued the content was not scientifically valid?

If you’re unfamiliar, Graham Hancock is a popular author and researcher best known for his books about ancient civilizations, such as Fingerprints of the Gods and The Sign and the Seal.

In January 2013, Hancock was invited to speak at TEDx Whitechapel where he gave a fascinating presentation about the shamanistic roots of human civilization, humanity’s ancient relationship with psychedelic plants, and his own personal experiences with ayahuasca.

The talk was titled “The War on Consciousness” and, in an ironic twist of fate, it would become somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy when the TED organizers decided to remove the presentation from their main archive on the grounds that it had unscientific tenants and spoke too candidly about the effects of psychedelics on consciousness.

In his talk, Hancock describes how his own experiences with ayahuasca were part of his investigation into how entheogens may have played a role in the evolution of human consciousness, art, and symbolic thinking. His experiences were powerful and life-changing. In addition to helping him better understand the world’s ancient visionary traditions, he describes how ayahuasca served as a tool for self-reflection in his own life, explaining how it helped him to make positive behavior changes and give up his decades-long habit of excessive marijuana use.

After the video of the talk was published, TED representatives argued the talk was “well beyond the realm of reasonable science” and that Hancock spoke about psychotropic drugs in a “nonscientific and reckless” way.

This story could be viewed through a couple of different lenses. Is it a cautionary tale about the temptation to rush to conclusions about the efficacy of psychedelic medicine before there is robust enough scientific data to back these claims? Is it a story about continuing efforts to silence psychedelic leaders? As the author of this article points out, there's no doubt that at the very least, Hancock's speech and the backlash against it have fostered an important debate about the merits of psychedelic medicine, and shown that intuitive insights, while limited and anecdotal, are still a valuable part of normalizing and educating people about these substances.