Science | March 1, 2020 3:47 pm

How Will Venture Capital Change Psychedelics?

Investors are exploring various companies in advance of broader legalization

psychedelic imagery
How will the arrival of venture capital affect the world of psychedelics?
Bobinsana/Creative Commons

While marijuana legalization has understandably gotten more headlines, there’s also been a movement afoot in the United States to legalize psychedelic drugs — including magic mushrooms. But where legalization goes, so too does the prospect of large-scale business investment — with all that that implies.

Now, a new article by Jonah Engel Bromwich at The New York Times explores what the ramifications of venture capital investment could be to the world of psychedelics. The article’s focus is on one investor, Able Partners, whose investments have focused on wellness.

… it’s useful to know that [Able] has also invested in Sanctuary (an astrology app), the Coconut Cult (probiotic-infused coconut “yogurt”) and MUD\WTR (a coffee alternative that includes mushrooms).

Able is now making a foray into the world of psychedelics. Bromwich writes that “it is now an early-stage investor in two companies that are involved in research of psychedelic compounds for medical use, Compass Pathways and Atai Life Sciences.” What could that lead to?

Late last year in an article for FortuneGregory Ferenstein surveyed the retail landscape for psychedelics in Amsterdam, where they’re legal. Among the points Ferenstein makes? That industry has bolstered tourism more than anything else. “I was told that Amsterdam’s growing industry of psychedelic retreats and professional trip sitters is mostly from foreigners,” he wrote. “Locals, by and large, have no interest in it.”

In the Times article, Bromwich notes that Able Partners has been focusing on the “wellness gap,” described as “the distance between standard economic measures of prosperity and how rotten everyone feels all the time.” It’s a noble-looking goal, but as for how that translates into an impact on an industry — that remains to be seen.

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