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Psychedelics: The New Frontier of Plant Medicine?

Dave Jackson Dave Jackson, Stockhouse
0 Comments| September 24, 2019

Dennis McKenna, Ph.D. (right), Robert Laurie, moderator, (left) at Extraordinary Future Conference, Sept. 23, 2019, Vancouver, B.C. Photo: Dave Jackson, Stockhouse

In a recent Stockhouse article, we looked into a what could be a potential multibillion-dollar health & wellness market explosion. And going down this rabbit hole is the new frontier of commercializing psychedelic drugs for a variety of medical and mental health applications.’
Ethnopharmacologist, research pharmacognosist, lecturer, and author Dr. Dennis McKenna is one of the world’s leading authorities the interdisciplinary study of Amazonian ethnopharmacology and plant hallucinogens. He has conducted extensive ethnobotanical fieldwork in the Peruvian, Colombian, and Brazilian Amazon. He is also the younger brother of the late ethnobotanist, mystic, lecturer, author, and advocate for the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic plants, Terence McKenna.
Speaking at an XFUTURE 2019 forum entitled: “From the Plant Medicine Frontier - How psychedelics like psilocybin could upturn the mental health industry”, the director of ethnopharmacology at the Heffter Research Institute explained some of the potential benefits of naturally-occurring hallucinogenic plants (like psilocybin mushrooms or Ayahuasca) and why many financial analysts are predicting this is the next wave of cannabis 2.0.
“Psychedelics are unlike any other kind of medicine that’s ever been introduced into biomedicine. Of all the new drugs discovered that eventually make it through clinical trials and eventually becomes available to people. They can’t be reduced to ‘just another pill’ because they are connected with history and a cultural context and even a co-evolutionary aspect. No one wants to discourage the research on psychedelics and the development of high quality psychedelics for therapeutic uses, but we should also not turn our backs on nature.”

He went on to say that control of certain plants and its pharmacology brings up issues of intellectual property, indigenous property, and indigenous knowledge:
“Who owns these psychedelics? They’re ancient medicines that have been used for thousands of years. I don’t think indigenous people would assert that they own the psychedelics. But you may be disappointed to know that there are corporations now headed in that direction, saying ‘We’re now the source of psychedelics.’ I think when you try to reduce psychedelic therapy to crystals and capsules it’s not the actual medicine itself…it’s the context. These medicines are never going to be something where a therapist says, ‘Take two of these and call me in the morning.’ It just doesn’t work that way.”
Not exactly music to the ears of the investor-based audience in attendance.
The doctor went on to say that looking at the big picture, psychedelics have to taken in a highly-structured context, a traditional shamanic context, or “some combination of the two.”
Forum moderator and Vancouver lawyer, Robert Laurie, asked Dr, McKenna, in regard to Canada’s legalization of adult-use cannabis nearly a year ago, how this would parlay into a recreational psychedelic market:
“I think we already have recreational market…it just doesn’t happen to be a legal one. Whether psychedelics are used recreationally or not is more a matter of personal choice. They can be used recreationally – and that’s not necessarily always a bad thing – for spiritual growth, self understanding, the inspiration of consciousness, and they can be used to treat specific mental health problems like depression and PTSD.”
This time, Dr. Mckenna’s libertarian, free market remarks on ‘personal choice’ hit a definite positive note with the assembled business crowd.
The Extraordinary Future Conference concluded Monday, September 23, 2019 with in excess of over 2,500 attendees and 100-plus exhibiting public and private technology companies and start-ups.


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