Are Psychedelics Going Mainstream? What You Should Know

Few people thought psychedelics would ever go mainstream, but here’s how these substances are making an impact on medical and mental health treatments.

If you had asked ten years ago whether the public could ever embrace psychedelics, the answer would have been a resounding no. But we live in a rapidly evolving world, and the rollback of cannabis prohibition has a broad and unexpected ripple effect.

Psychedelics are no longer the “hippy party drugs” they were once feared to be. Instead, studies show that they’re powerful medications with lasting effects that could change the way we approach mental health. Several cities have already decriminalized psychedelics, but Oregon will be the first state to fully legalize these substances in 2023. 

Safe to say, psychedelics aren’t going back to the shadows again. Instead, they’re riding the coattails of the mainstream cannabis movement to make their way into the forefront of society. 

A Brief History of Psychedelics

Humans have used psychedelics for thousands of years, typically in religious or spiritual ceremonies to connect with the divine. Ancient cultures from the Greeks and Indians to Meso- and South Americans consumed psychedelics.

These substances are other, far more intense, forms of plant medicine that produce incredible changes in sensory perception and often hallucinations. Psychedelic substances include (but aren’t limited to) psilocybin, LSD, ketamine, MDMA, DMT, ayahuasca, and ibogaine. 

Psychedelics first piqued the interest of scientists in the 1950s and 1960s, but research was basically halted when the Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1970. The studies explored different substances use in treating alcoholism, neurosis, depression, schizophrenia, and more. Many studies published today are re-creating studies from the 1950s with today’s rigorous research standards.

Psychedelics Evolving Role in Modern Society 

The ban on psychedelic substances, like the ban on cannabis, was not driven by science but by fear. As we uncover a treasure trove of possible uses for psychedelics, we’re forced to ask how they could change modern medicine. 

When these substances were first tested, many scientists regarded them as wonder drugs, capable of producing incredible and profound changes. Psychedelics can help people break out of unhealthy patterns, process past traumas, experience spiritual breakthroughs, and provide perspective. What psychedelics can do in hours often takes years in conventional therapy.

But why? 

Psychedelics change your brain 

Psychedelics can increase your neuroplasticity, which is the ability to improve connections between brain neurons. When you’re young, your brain has a high level of neuroplasticity, so you can interpret and learn about the world around you. But we lose this ability as we age. Our brains become stuck in specific patterns, which affects our ability to understand new information and create new habits.

Psychedelics can change this, helping your brain create new connections between neurons that produce new thought patterns. This is one of the reasons psychedelic substances can facilitate spiritual breakthroughs or help you leave behind destructive patterns — they can “reset” your brain. 

Psychedelics can also help people revisit past traumatic events to process them and help the brain release the trauma. People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have brains that “get stuck” on events and relive them repeatedly. Certain psychedelics can help you “go back” to a traumatic event and observe or process it without activating the flight or fight response so that you can release it.

More than a party drug

It’s important to understand that these substances are not party drugs. Psychedelics produce profound experiences that can easily be as negative as positive. Approaching these drugs requires planning, an open mind, and respect. The best results are not produced by taking MDMA at a festival but in a safe and secure setting with a qualified professional to guide you through the experience and integrate it into your life.

Perhaps most interestingly, psychedelics are also not highly addictive. These substances produce such intense sensations that many people are not keen to rush into another. It takes time, space, and often a professional to understand and integrate a psychedelic experience into your life in a productive way. In this way, psychedelics differ from cannabis, which many consumers want more and more. 

Psychedelics in society today 

Psychedelics undeniably have a role to play in modern medicine. Well-respected institutions like Johns Hopkins and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies have many psychedelic studies in progress, looking at MDMA for PTSD, psilocybin for depression and addiction, and more. 

Psychedelics can be a game-changer for people struggling with their mental health. And there is a mental health crisis right now. 1 in 5 adults report suffering from a mental illness, but less than half of Americans can access adequate medical treatment.

Additionally, there is a shortage of mental health professionals, and many people cannot afford to pay for ongoing care. Traditional mental health treatment falls short of the crisis levels we’re experiencing today, and only a revolution in mental health care can help. 

Psychedelics just may be that revolution. These substances work quickly, produce intense sensations, and have a lasting impact on the brain’s wiring. The main problem is access, but even that is changing.

Today, psychedelics are on the fast track to the mainstream. Multiple cities have decriminalized psychedelics, including:

  • Denver, Colorado 
  • Oakland, California 
  • Santa Cruz, California 
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan 
  • Washington, DC 

In 2023, Oregon is coming online as the first state in the nation to come online with fully legalized psychedelics. Other states are eyeing the program the same way they watched California legalize cannabis. 

Risk Management for Psychedelic Companies

Psychedelics moving into the mainstream is not just a boon to the American people but a huge opportunity to get in on the ground floor of an emerging industry.

But like in all emerging industries, the opportunity is matched by the challenges. Psychedelic companies face unique problems, but many issues overlap with the pharmaceutical industry. Challenges like growth, sustainability, and risk management are similar, and the psychedelic industry can learn from asset management within pharmaceuticals.

Working with an insurer who understands emerging industries like psychedelics is key to setting yourself up for success. The right risk management team helps support your research and development, meeting patient needs, and keeping the back end of your business moving. For example, here are a handful of coverages we recommend for psychedelic companies:

  • General liability:  Protects psychedelic companies against basic business risks
  • Product liability: Protects against claims alleging your product or service caused injury or damage
  • Professional liability: Protects psychedelic companies against lawsuits of inferior work or service
  • Pollution: Protects against third-party pollutant claims alleging bodily injury or property damage
  • Clinical trials: Compensates you if you’re legally liable for injuries a research subject sustains 
  • Directors & officers: Protects corporate directors and officers’ personal assets if they are sued
  • Workers’ compensation: Covers employees if they are injured on the job and can no longer work
  • Employment practices liability: Protects psychedelic companies against employment-related lawsuits

Protecting your psychedelic company can seem confusing; however, we’re a full-service insurance brokerage working with carriers worldwide to offer you the best coverage possible. We’re here to help! Please reach out to us today by emailing [email protected] or calling 646-854-1093 for a customized letter of commitment or learning more about your cannabis insurance options.

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