Rolling Stone: The Future of Cannabis is Formulations of Cannabinoids

Madison Margolin recently published an article in Rolling Stone Magazine explaining that the future of cannabis technology will center around formulated products that eliminate the inherent variability of natural cannabis.  This assertion seems relevant to the future of magic mushroom technology, which seems to be following in the footsteps of cannabis.  See Magic Mushrooms and Cannabis – A Near Perfect Analogy.

Comparing Natural Products with Formulations

Unlike the cannabis plant, formulated cannabis products are made with specific amounts of particular chemical compounds.  These formulated products make it possible to provide mainstream consumers with specific, reproducible, and tailored effects.

Jon Cooper, former CEO of ebbu, LLC describes naturally occurring cannabis (i.e., the cannabis plant) as “chemical chaos.” In other words, cannabis plants inherently produce variable mixtures of chemicals. A cannabis user’s experience arises from the particular combination of chemicals (aka drugs) consumed. Because naturally occurring cannabis varies substantially in chemical composition, a user’s experience with cannabis can vary significantly.

Formulating cannabis products with precise amounts of particular chemicals makes it possible to eliminate the chaos and unpredictability inherent to naturally occurring cannabis.

According to Tristan Watkins of Lucid Mood, “With formulated cannabis products, you can get specific effects and … you can also tightly control how strong the high is.”

According to Ms. Margolin, many mainstream consumers “are not up for the gamble of smoking flower to see what happens. Rather, the new cannabis consumer is looking for an exact, consistent experience to reliably target either a particular medical ailment, or to bring about a specific, desired effect.”  She notes, “It’s hard to fathom anyone would mind having a clearer idea of what to expect from their weed.”

As discussed in greater detail below, all of the logic that applies to cannabis products also applies to the future of magic mushroom products:

  • Both cannabis and magic mushrooms are natural organisms.
  • Both cannabis and magic mushrooms contain multiple active ingredients that contribute to the overall clinical effect experienced by the user.
  • Both cannabis and magic mushrooms have significant variability in the chemical composition and concentration of their psychoactive ingredients, making them unreliable means for administering a particular dose or effect.

The Future of Magic Mushrooms Illustrated by Developments in Cannabis Technology

The cannabis industry provides an uncanny glimpse at the future of psychedelic mushrooms, aka magic mushrooms.  Like cannabis, magic mushrooms were banned as highly risky with no potential benefits in the 1960s but scientists have subsequently shown that they are relatively safe and have tremendous therapeutic potential. Researchers at the John’s Hopkins University (JHU) School of Medicine and other institutions have found psilocybin is effective for treating treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and the anxiety experienced by terminal cancer patients. Recently, the JHU researchers have called for the rescheduling of psilocybin from schedule I to schedule IV contingent upon successful phase III clinical trials. 

For a variety of reasons, the magic mushroom industry lags behind the cannabis industry.  However, we are now seeing the early signs of legalization and decriminalization. For example, organizations such as COMPASS Pathways, DrugScience, and the Oregon Psilocybin Society (OPS) are working to educate the people in the field and the general public.  In addition, residents of Denver. Colorado will be voting in May 2019 to decriminalize possession of small amounts of magic mushrooms (containing psilocybin). The legalization effort in Colorado is being led by the organization ShroomPac 2020.

Arguably, many of the lessons learned within the cannabis industry will also apply to the future of the magic mushroom industry. For example, consumers of magic mushroom products could benefit from products that provide an “exact, consistent experience … or to bring about a specific, desired effect.”  In other words, the future of the magic mushroom industry is formulated products made from precise amounts of particular psilocybin derivatives.

Understandably, magic mushroom technology lags behind cannabis technology.  Unlike the cannabis industry, the magic mushroom industry has not diligently cataloged all of the active components in the mushrooms.  Presently, leaders on the treatment side are focusing exclusively on a single active molecule: psilocybin. (This approach is akin to early work in the cannabis industry which focused exclusively on THC.)

Advocates for legalizing or decriminalizing magic mushrooms do not appear to have an answer to concerns about the inherent chemical variability of magic mushrooms, which results in substantial variability and unwanted side-effects, including muscle paralysis.

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