JR joins Anthony Scaramucci and Noetic Funds to discuss how psychedelics are changing mental health and creating a new asset class within biotech.
41 min read (8120 Words)
Hello everyone and welcome back to the salt talks. My name is John Darcy. I’m the Managing director of salt, which is a global thought leadership forum and networking platform at the intersection of finance, technology and public policy. Salt talks are a digital interview series with leading investors, creators and thinkers. And our goal on these salt talks is the same as our goal at our Salt Conference series, which is to provide a window into the mind of subject matter experts as well as provide a platform for what we think are big ideas that are shaping the
future. And we’re very excited today to bring you a talk focusing on the future of medicine within the psychedelic space with two fantastic guests. Our first guest today is Jr. Ron, who’s the co-founder and Co. CEO of Mind Med, a leading psychedelic medicine biotech company that discovers. Develops and deploys psychedelic inspired medicines and therapies to address addiction and mental illness.
Jr is a former Silicon Valley Tech executive who was previously at Uber and attended the prestigious Tech Accelerator Y Combinator. After his own struggles with mental health and addiction in Silicon Valley, he began looking for a new treatment paradigm with the potential to solve mental health and addiction related issues. Jayare began personally investing in psychedelic medicine projects and research. Through his family office, run capital and then went on to found the biotech company Mind Med to focus on developing psychedelic medicines under the federally compliant FDA pathway. Mine man was the first psychedelic medicine biotech to publicly listed on a Stock Exchange and the company now garners a 1 billion plus market cap. The company has filed an uplisting application for potential listing of its shares on the NASDAQ and our second guess today is Saad Shaw, whose firm Noetic is actually an investor in mind,
Med. What’s odd is the Co founder and managing partner of Noetic, a venture capital firm that seeks to invest in emerging an early stage psychedelic based Wellness, therapeutic and pharmaceutical companies around the world saw has spent the last 20 two years in capital markets and the asset management industry with a focus on alternative investment strategies prior to founding noetic Nasad was a managing director at The Carlyle Group. He’s also the co-founder and managing partner at Greyhouse Partners, a venture capital venture Capital Alpha. Partners, an affiliate partner at Lindsay Goldberg and Adventure Advisor to Learn Capital, LLC. He’s also a filmmaker, a scriptwriter and producer, and a board member of the necessary Angel Theater in Toronto and the Council of Advisors for the Windy Museum in Los Angeles. Hosting today’s talk is Anthony Scaramucci to founder and managing partner Skybridge Capital,
a global alternative investment firm. Anthony is also the chairman of Salt, and with that I’ll turn it over to Anthony for the interview. Well guys, thanks so much for coming on. I’m going to start with Jr if that’s OK. I would like you Jr to give our audience a broad overview of the thesis behind psychedelics for medical use, but also take us through your personal journey to how you got to mind Med.
0:03:23 – Speaker #3
Well thank you Mr Scaramucci.
0:03:25 – Speaker #1
Look, I think psychic you got you got JRE you gotta call me Anthony. OK, because in a few minutes, John, Darcy and I are going to be beating the hell out of each other. OK, and I have to feel young for that experience. ’cause you gotta call me in?
0:03:39 – Speaker #3
You got it happening. Yeah, look, I think you know if we if we take a step back here and look at this space or really have created and founded a new asset class. This is a new biotech asset class that is focused on mental health and well it might be based on substances from the 1960s that have associations, you know like LSD and psilocybin. Really, what we’re focused on is mental health. And how do we heal people? And that’s really where the journey for mine Med began, which is the first publicly listed psychedelic biotech company.
I was at the height of my career and Silicon Valley. I was working at Uber and then went through the Y Combinator program and was faced with some severe addiction and mental health issues to the outside world. Everything was going fine. You know I was. I was struggling with my addictions,
0:04:39 – Speaker #1
but you know. Working well and and getting things accomplished in Silicon Valley until a friend really told me by me asking because I’m from a family of addictive disorders. So what was your addiction of choice or what was not choice, but what was the thing that you were you were drawn to an an? I want to stipulate for purposes of salt talk coming from an addictive families that have addictive disorders. I recognize that it is an illness. It is not a choice. So I didn’t mean to say it that way. But what was what was drawing you in Jr? Well, I think you do have the choice to do something about it,
0:05:19 – Speaker #3
right? I think you know.
0:05:21 – Speaker #1
Definitely isn’t illness. But it takes time. We have a choice to do something about it, but I do think that once you’re caught up in it, it’s a. It’s a. It’s a hard cycle to break because of the. Biochemistry in your body? Would that be fair to say totally so my my drugs of choice were cocaine and alcohol and really struggled with this.
0:05:44 – Speaker #3
You know? Basically from the beginning of college, right? And and in even in high school I think that goes back to. Struggles with with ADHD and mental health being put on stimulant based medicines from the age of 13. You really start to develop patterns and you’re right, it is a it is a brain illness and it is a mental illness. And those patterns start early as a kid and so they know that really culminated in Silicon Valley. For me and I had a friend turned to me at one point and say look,
you’re going to put yourself into a grave. I had other friends die. You know these are folks that were working. You know, at large tech companies, die of overdoses, die of these are really serious diseases, and so I decided that I wanted to make a change, right? You know it was it was I was either going to die or I was going to solve the problem. And so I didn’t really see the traditional routes of addiction treatment and how we treat mental health in America as. Really effective ways of dealing with these problems?
0:06:58 – Speaker #1
OK, so let let me interrupt again if you don’t mind just talk a little bit about that for our viewers. So the traditional treatments are a 12 step program. You see alcohol, anonymous manual. It’s going to a rehab center, perhaps for 28 days. There’s some psychotherapeutic treatment to that.
And then there’s also the conditioning process of attending meetings. Either Narconon meeting or an alcohol anonymous meeting where your. Laying out your story and you’re sharing, and so one of the things that we have found with these diseases by making it communal and bridging a gap in having people help each other, creating that matrix. It sustains people’s ability to stay off of the addiction. And so your therapeutic idea is what they are.
0:07:49 – Speaker #3
Well look, I just want to call out that I think that Alcoholics Anonymous and an A are important pieces to solving addiction.
0:07:58 – Speaker #4
Yes. I think there are, you know, actually what people forget is that the 13th step of AA was actually supposed to be analysed. The trip by that was that was what it was originally thought up to be by by the foundry that never happened because of the 1960s,
0:08:14 – Speaker #3
but I think it’s important to point out our paradigm really is looking at how do we create catalyst for change in your behavior that when you’re dealing with both
0:08:25 – Speaker #4
addiction, an ruminating thoughts about anxiety or depression. You really need that catalyst and some people can do it without a psychedelic,
0:08:34 – Speaker #3
but what what I found was that. Psychedelic medicine is not going to be a panacea to solve all of our problems in society. However, they can be catalysts for us to change our behavior,
0:08:46 – Speaker #1
and there’s still a lot of work that needs to go in after before we get to sad. And we are going to get him in a second. I want to push you a little bit on psychedelics, so because there’s a stigma to psychedelics, right? You know we have that the mushroom, the LSD, and the hippie. It’s gets created this 50 year stigma to psychedelics but yet there are people that attribute psychedelics. Giving them major breakthroughs in life in major transformation in the way they think about planet Earth.
So step back for people that don’t know a lot about psychedelics. Ellis a little bit about the origin and side. Forgive me for once said we’re going to do in a moment, but I want you to give this introduction to people that are not familiar with psychedelics and don’t need to be afraid of psychedelics. They need to be informed about them, so go ahead jail. Yeah,
0:09:37 – Speaker #4
so I mean, modern psychedelics, the. Things that we talked about like LSD were really invented inside pharmaceutical companies. They were invented at Sandoz Laboratories, which is now part of the pharmaceutical group, Novartis. Many folks might have heard of something called Bicycle Day, which is the the infamous day that LSD was actually discovered by Doctor Albert Hoffman, who’s a chemist at Sandoz.
He was riding home and he he like to test the molecules that he was working on.
0:10:08 – Speaker #3
And after getting home, he realized that there was something very powerful in the experience that he had with LSD, and I think the reason that they’ve been stigmatized is simply due to the headlines that happened in the 1960s.
0:10:22 – Speaker #4
It probably wasn’t a great, great idea to give everybody a bunch of LSD and and ask him to go off and fight a war in Vietnam at the time. And so I think what what?
0:10:32 – Speaker #3
We’re still dealing with as an industry is psychedelics do have this stigma, but. In many ways, they can be deeply therapeutic and we talk about psychedelics. But really, what it is is psychedelic assisted therapy. There is a therapy component to it.
You will take a psychedelic. You will sit with a therapist or psychiatrist and they are guiding you through an experience to realize why you are having some of these underlying causes to your addiction to your anxiety to your depression, to your PTSD, and ultimately this is the new paradigm to use a drug in combination with therapy.
0:11:14 – Speaker #1
Ultimately, it is what we are pushing forward as an industry. So. Sad you have this prolific career in institutional investing. You’ve been at some of the more Premier places. Why do you? Why are you excited about the psychedelic space as it relates to an investment outlook in psychedelics?
0:11:40 – Speaker #6
Sure, so first of all,
0:11:41 – Speaker #5
Anthony and John thank you for having me here. Quite frankly, I really missed the the the old solve conferences,
0:11:49 – Speaker #6
the live conferences that were incredibly informative,
0:11:52 – Speaker #1
insightful, and we’re going to be doing LSD trips at the next one.
0:11:57 – Speaker #4
So I mean that that may not be true.
0:11:59 – Speaker #1
OSD boutique over there, but go ahead.
0:12:01 – Speaker #5
So tell us what, so it’s a. It’s a mix really. It’s a mix of a personal journey for me. And an investment sector that makes a hell of a lot of sense for many reasons.
0:12:14 – Speaker #6
So from an investment perspective, Anthony, you know in a previous life we we ran a fund of funds that focused a great deal on esoteric strategy strategies.
0:12:23 – Speaker #5
They were very new in their lifecycles. We actually saw him out and in many cases we see did many of them. You know strategies like reinsurance and weather derivatives and commercial litigation, finance and music, royalty, business, pharmaceutical royalty, business. That’s one. That kind of dovetails very well with what’s going on here.
But a key aspect of that was. That these strategies were quite new in their life cycle and and a lot of the capital initially stayed away because they founded complex. So what we did was we put these strategies together in a portfolio for investors, predominantly institutional investors and said we will manage the complexity for you, but there’s definite and distinct Alpha. It may be fleeting, but the Alpha is there. The ability to generate returns greater than what the markets are delivering, but the best part of it was that these strategies were very UN correlated to the market. So in years like 2008,
0:13:18 – Speaker #6
2011 they did well. When we’ve been following what’s happening in psychedelics for a long time and what’s been driving us to the psychedelics apart from the personal you know
0:13:28 – Speaker #5
journey which I’ll get into is the fact that the science has been incredibly compelling. The efficacy rates here just cannot be ignored, and ultimately we bet on the fact that everything will follow the science the money will follow the signs. Capital followed signs. Institutional investors will follow the science and it’s utterly compelling, right? There have been on three occasions now that the FDA has designated psychedelics is breakthrough designation BTD? You can go onto the FDA’s website and take a look at every instance they’ve designated anything as BTD, so it’s a big deal, which really means that. They’re saying that OK, well, this has a / 7075% efficacy rate to treat that particular ailment. Give it the green light,
let it go to phase one. Let it get, you know, let the process start and and you know there was 2017, 2018, and 2019, twice with psilocybin or magic mushrooms and once for MD MA.
0:14:27 – Speaker #6
So, but the the complexity comes in, and when you’ve got the DEA at the same time saying holdouts like this is a schedule and abuse list, and these are harmful, so they need to stay on that list. But as these things get through their their their clinical trials,
0:14:46 – Speaker #5
which are, you know, which are fast approaching?
0:14:49 – Speaker #6
They’re going to get off the DJ list. So for us this is a prime example of a strategy that earlier this lifecycle complex. It’s mispriced as a result. It’s underpriced, right, and? The efficacy rate will start to be quite readily apparent to to the public, to the markets, and these things are going to be priced accordingly.
0:15:10 – Speaker #5
So for us this is. It’s also disruptive, massively disruptive.
0:15:14 – Speaker #6
It makes sense, and there’s a seven year history behind it that people tend to forget.
0:15:19 – Speaker #5
They think it’s just something new. This has been going on for a long time,
0:15:24 – Speaker #1
so so you have, but you have this interesting intersection of activity right now,
0:15:29 – Speaker #4
so let me read you some of these statistics again. 40 million Americans suffering from anxiety annually only 37%
0:15:36 – Speaker #1
are seeking treatment. You’ve got 11% of the American adults reported seriously considering suicide in June at the height of the pandemic, you have the potentiality of 800 million people being out of work as a result of automation coming, and you’ve got the addictive disorders. The opioid crisis costs 2 1/2 trillion dollars to America. At least that’s the projection over the next four years. How can this help tell me tell me, tell me the. Tell me,
tell me, let me ask you that I’m a person has anxiety of completed suicide. What would be the therapy Jr what am I doing? I I come to met mijn Med and then what happens?
0:16:25 – Speaker #3
So, so my meds still developing drugs right where we’re going through an FDA federally regulated process and I hope that we can eventually help folks that have considered suicide and and and also have anxiety. So we are our project Lucy, which is LSD assisted therapy. Went to the FDA in December for pre Ind meeting and we sat down with him and said look we think that LSD assisted therapy can be used. With folks that are having generalized anxiety disorder or anxiety, and we want to conduct some clinical trials around that and so they gave us a very,
very successful meeting. We had a very open dialogue. We didn’t hear it in Ridgely. Anticipate that it was going to be so open because LSD as a stigma. But I think what’s interesting at the FDA is they’re very open to conducting this clinical trials because the FDA focuses on two things. It doesn’t focus on politics. Focuses on is something safe and is something effective?
And. That’s really important because the mental health dilemma and situation of America right now is far worse than the political divide we currently have. I mean, 11% of Americans considered suicide in the month of June. That’s up double from what it was a year ago before Covid started. This is, we need novel solutions and treatment paradigms, and so eventually what we want is for you to come to a clinic or in the comfort of your own home. And be having psychedelic experience using LSD assisted therapy with either a transit psychiatrist or therapist that that will guide you through this experience. We also are working on some interesting tech that if the experience one of the major things Anthony that people ask me is well, what is? What if the trip is too much for me? You know I have anxiety and I have considered suicide, but what if this experience that you’re suggesting to me as a medicine is just too much? How do you stop the trip?
So one of the things that we’re working on is. Is an LSD trip stopper an it will effectively allow therapists or psychiatrists if the experience is getting out of hand? If you, as a patient aren’t feeling comfortable, we can actually stop it. It’s not our preference too, but we feel that in order to get mass adoption by both psychiatrists and potential, you’re giving somebody a kill switch if they need it.
0:18:59 – Speaker #4
But so you know, I was mentioning this to sod before we started our salt talk. There’s a fabulous new biography on Cary Grant. Scott Heirman just wrote it. New information. He was using LSD. He was suffering from anxiety,
suffering from depression and he was using LSD with the help of a psychotherapist back in the 30s and 40s. And it was revelatory for him and it helped him break the cycle of anxiety and depression.
0:19:30 – Speaker #1
And so how does it do that?
0:19:32 – Speaker #4
For either of you? How does it break that cycle? What, what, what happens to the mind?
0:19:39 – Speaker #1
Weather psychodelic that would cause that. Breakage, so I think there’s 2 two things and all that sort also answer,
0:19:48 – Speaker #4
but I think the the two main components that one should really look at here is around neural plasticity of the brain actually breaking the patterns. That of rumination for example on anxiety or depression. Those things that are making you anxious actually looking at you in talking through the underlying cause of why they are creating anxiety for me. You know? I discovered it analysis the experience that the reason that I was.
0:20:14 – Speaker #3
Consuming lots of cocaine and alcohol was really to numb myself from the death of my mother when I was an 8 year old child. And those are things that you think about everyday, and it certainly wasn’t something that I thought about. And So what we talk about is another term called ego dissolution,
0:20:31 – Speaker #4
which we find where we just did a phase one study in Switzerland with our collaboration with University Hospital Basel that really looked at. What is the ideal dose of LSD to actually achieve something called you go to solution which is?
0:20:45 – Speaker #1
Allows you really to to self reflect and think outside of your your day-to-day ego and I’m going to stop you. JRG are OK so when you say ego dissolution either we have this ego which is this fortified layer. It’s a husk around our brains personality that protects US from the outside world. You know it’s our self talk, it’s our level of confidence. It’s our layer of protection when you create ego dissolution now. You’re able to observe yourself in your most natural state in terms of the way you came into the world through nature,
as opposed to these environmental behavioral projections that you’ve developed. Is that fair to say? Yeah, I think it helps breakdown that Kevlar.
0:21:32 – Speaker #4
I mean, I think what I realized in my experiences was that we’re just all children wrapped in Kevlar. You know, we get more and more expensive.
0:21:40 – Speaker #3
Kevlar as life goes on. But really, what that experience is doing is exactly what you say,
0:21:46 – Speaker #4
breaking down that husk. And I think that’s something that people rarely ever do the self reflection.
0:21:52 – Speaker #1
I mean, how is one of the more scary revelations for me that when you become an adult, you’re just an overgrown child? OK, and so then you’d like, oh God, some of these overgrown children have the nuclear codes. So then you start really warm,
0:22:06 – Speaker #3
so you said it not me,
0:22:08 – Speaker #1
beside have you ever done LSD? I have yes, so my what was your experience with it?
0:22:16 – Speaker #6
Was very much does as Jr suggested. It was a a a melting into the entire cosmos or with the entire cosmos and an overwhelming feeling of oneness. So so my journey Anthony started in college but not in the way that that you think. I did my undergrad in economics and finance and political science, but I spent all my electives studying esoteric philosophy, so I was passionate about the Kabbalah as it pertained to Judaism and Sufism retained. Islam and Gnosticism and Rosicrucianism for Medecins Imgur GF blotsky so on and then that somehow led me to want to learn the whole science behind energy, frequency and vibration. So I studied quantum physics and what I found particularly interesting in quantum physics is that you need to have an observer consciousness present in order to
determine whether the electron is going to behave as a particle or a wave or both. So my question was what if you alter that state of consciousness? And that’s exactly what psychedelics do. They alter the state of consciousness, but if you alter the state of consciousness theoretically, should your entire reality change. And according to the math you know there’s a strong case for that.
0:23:30 – Speaker #1
Of course, that reality actually changes itself well, does it? Does it? Does it always change for the better, or could your reality change?
0:23:37 – Speaker #6
Well, I think what I think. What psychedelics do really is that the amplified the unconscious. That’s what really happens, right? You it? It sort of shuts off the default mode network right? In our in our brain. So that’s where ego is.
That’s where memories are. That’s where our sense of who we are not patient.
0:23:56 – Speaker #1
Also do that is meditation away to get there as well. Yes, think of it like a pyramid.
0:24:01 – Speaker #6
So meditation can get you there. You can start anywhere at the bottom of the pyramid, but when you get to the top, you’re all getting to the same point.
0:24:10 – Speaker #5
So meditation can do that. Slept, you know. Beating getting beaten almost to death can do that. Some major massive stress can do that. Spending 40 days and 40 nights in the desert can do that right.
0:24:22 – Speaker #6
You see where I’m going with this. So there’s there’s a lot of other factors that can play that can get you into and also state of consciousness.
0:24:30 – Speaker #5
Psychedelics do that as well, but the key thing with psychedelics is that they really amplify the unconscious. I’m going to go back to something that they are mentioned earlier on, which is this whole notion that psychedelics are not dependency at. They’re not the. They’re not that the whole is not the Holy Grail, they are simply a catalyst.
They are the key that opened the door.
0:24:51 – Speaker #3
But you still gotta open the door and walk through it.
0:24:54 – Speaker #6
But if you’re walking through the door and you’re in a room with the 800 pound gorilla, that’s pretty scary. What psychedelics do is that they reduced the size of that problem down to a bite size, which is much more manageable, and it allows you to deal with that issue, whatever that issue may be your own personal traumas, it could be ancestral. Trauma could be whatever. And now you’re in a position to deal with it,
0:25:17 – Speaker #5
and that’s what has been profound.
0:25:19 – Speaker #1
And that’s where the research has really come in to show that. When’s it? When’s the last time you did cocaine Jr.
0:25:27 – Speaker #3
Last time I did, cocaine would have been two years ago, after I really embarked on. Yeah, being going through a few different psychedelic experiences and realizing that I had a beautiful daughter had a great life and there was absolutely no reason to put this
0:25:45 – Speaker #1
stuff up my nose. And so the psychedelic experience of. So you know, so you you said OK, I’ve gotta get off of cocaine. This is ruining my life and so the psychedelic experience I’m going to tie both of you in here in a second. So what side is saying is this ego dissolution you’re in that state where your subconscious is raised, raised up and you’re starting to recognize all the great things that you have in your life. And so is that enough to overcome the biochemical or the mental addiction to the cocaine. Well, I think there’s two I think you’re doing two things,
0:26:23 – Speaker #3
right? I think there’s a need for an experiential therapy like like LSD, which which. Gets you to the point or or a few that gets to the point of under understanding what is the underlying cause of my addiction.
0:26:37 – Speaker #4
You know, for me it was. It was the death of my mother, right? I need to go through that experience now. There is a lot of science. If you look at neural Bowl cause work at the National Institute on Drug Abuse that looks at dopamine and how dopamine is is it is a huge driver of addiction and so another thing that we’re working on is called 18 MC.
0:26:57 – Speaker #3
It’s derived from a psychedelic called eye beginning and what we’re trying to do is create the antibiotic of addiction. As an addict, you know when you do a line of cocaine, you get that great sense of euphoria. That’s actually a spike in dopamine in your brain and overtime if you do that too many times, you’re depleting the amount of overall available dopamine in your brain, and so your baseline dopamine level that makes you feel good and normal actually goes down. And so, as an addict, you are no longer doing a line of cocaine. In my case, to get high,
I could do. An 8 ball of cocaine and feel just kind of normal.
0:27:39 – Speaker #1
I wasn’t I didn’t feel high and low for people on here. That eight 8 ball is 8 grams of cocaine. It’s a very large amount of cocaine and you know somebody new to cocaine would be able to do that right away. They wouldn’t have enough. Resistance to your point, their dopamine levels wouldn’t be low enough.
0:28:00 – Speaker #3
Even, right, correct? Yeah, I mean it wasn’t doing that in one one sitting,
0:28:04 – Speaker #4
but I think it it. It makes a point that.
0:28:07 – Speaker #3
You’re you’re really depleting that dopamine in your brain and somehow we need to bring that level back up in an addict an eventually want to get a person to
0:28:18 – Speaker #4
a point where. You know they can have a glass of wine, maybe 1 glass of wine if you are an addict and still have a normal life, I think that’s you know there’s right well because at one glass of wine can trigger you, so the alcoholic anonymous people talk about abstinence because they’re afraid that you’re going to get triggered. The glass of wine lowers your inhibition.
0:28:39 – Speaker #3
You’re like? OK, let me go to the code,
0:28:42 – Speaker #4
yeah, but there’s no solution right now for cocaine on the market. 0 for opioids you have methadone, which is just a little bit less harmful narcotic. We’re not moving the needle, no pun intended there. To get people better, you’re just putting them on something that is a little bit less addictive or sorry. More addictive, but less harmful to their bodies. And so I think this is a you know,
a huge issue we gotta deal with as a country as well.
0:29:08 – Speaker #3
The opioid crisis is going to cost this country 2 1/2 trillion dollars over the next four years. I mean that small problems.
0:29:17 – Speaker #6
If I can just add to that Anthony like,
0:29:20 – Speaker #5
obviously the opioid crisis and mental health is the real epidemic here. I mean, that’s the biggest problem and it’s getting worse and worse. There are 303 hundred people in the US dying a day now of just drug overdose, and it’s never been this bad ever. Suicide rates amongst the men between the age of 45 and 55 is going up. Teenage suicide rates are going up and everything that’s out there in the market that we just talked about.
SSR, eyes, SNR eyes, they’re all. Trying to treat the symptoms, but nothing out there is going after the root cause. There’s been very little innovation in any of these stuff with any of these other SSR eyes in SRS NRI since it came out in the 80s with Prozac. So no innovation. These drugs are off their patent Cliff.
There’s not much of an interest from Big Pharma as a result to take a look at these. They’re focused more on koleji and that’s why there’s this vacuum created. But quite frankly, because of the political sort of initiatives that. Underwent in the 70s that really derailed this process. We’re finally coming back with a hell of a lot of information and a lot of actual sort of, you know, uh, cases of individuals that have overcome their addiction. You know? Gabor, Mattie, who’s a doctor up in Vancouver who’s been helping heroin addicts, is entire careeer talks about and says what does it really mean for heroin,
0:30:44 – Speaker #6
attic to be on heroin? And this is the first time I ever heard something that really put it in. Perspective, he said for heroin attics. It’s like when they heard when, when they’re on heroin. So like their mother is giving them a warm blanket. And and you know, really nurturing them, giving him a hot bowl of chicken, corn soup or or chicken noodle soup and and just you know,
being there with them, that’s what they feel. So what’s happening in the brain is if you can substitute heroin or something that makes you feel just as satiated. And just as nurtured and loved that the promise there has been what psychedelics and in particular plant medicine I’ve been able to offer.
0:31:26 – Speaker #1
So what, yeah, sorry go ahead no no no no no. I mean I I I was going to thread both of you together. I’m going to turn it over to John and his second ’cause I know he has a series of questions from our audience but. What you’re basically saying is we have in front of us something that could help our addiction disorders. It got derailed due to politics and the sociology around psychedelics in the 60s, but had we just progressed the scientific research, we could have gotten to the point where we are now where this could be a therapeutic that could solve a lot of these problems, abate some of the two and a half trillion dollars that you’re suggesting.
On the opioid crisis and things like that. And there’s a market opportunity for this site, right? Fair enough, this would be a very profitable line of pharmacology if you will, because it’s obviously solving great societal problems and you guys are at the forefront of this. OK, so with that I’m going to turn it over to John. Because we gotta get ratings. OK so for some reason the two of you are all fogies.
Apparently now I’m going to Fogey which you know I find revolting and he’s a millennial. OK, so for some reason he gets ratings and so forth. So we have to bring him into the conversation at this point. Otherwise we probably won’t get the ratings that we want.
0:32:49 – Speaker #2
So go ahead, Darcy, you I know you have questions for these guys. Yes, odd, I want to build on what Anthony was just talking about in terms of the social stigma attached to psychedelics today, an. We had a long conversation when we were first planning out this salt talk about your personal experiences with psychedelics and how it transformed your state of consciousness. But in general, in terms of how society looks psychedelics, you made it very clear in Jr made it very clear that you’re not looking to be cannabis 2.0.
This is not a movement about legalizing LSD or other psychedelics for recreational use. This is specifically about the medical use and supervised use of clinical psychedelic treatments. Could you talk about where we are? Sort of in the regulatory and social acceptance of psychedelics and and how you strive to be different from the cannabis movement?
0:33:40 – Speaker #5
Sure, so so first and foremost,
0:33:42 – Speaker #6
you know when when folks talk about cannabis and psychedelics. I quite frankly don’t really get it. And and there are completely 2 two different paradigms altogether. You know cannabis is all about a recreation play. It’s been a movement that’s been going on for awhile.
There it’s linked to so many other political issues. Wrist recidivism, you know. The incarceration rates and so on. But it’s a it’s a it’s a. Recreational play, right? That’s where the real revenue is.
What’s happening in psychedelics is a pharma play. This is about biotechnology. It’s about creating an entirely new ecosystem as well around it. Because it’s not just to take this pill and it will solve your problem, it’s about creating the therapy around it. It’s about the set and the setting. The intentions you know, and it’s but post,
you know, a post session. Integrative Science, which is what now I’ve had my psychedelic experience. How do I make sense of everything that I’ve just, you know, experience? And I’ve seen, and I’ve just sort of sensed and. And how do I now take that? And you know, and and live my day to day life with with you know this this this issue that I’m caring and and they need help with that so. So that’s what’s wonderful about this about what’s happening in this Renaissance movement.
Because it’s there’s a whole infrastructure. There’s going to be born out of it. There’s a therapist. That supply chain does the upstream to midstream in the downstream side of the equation is the whole supply chain endeavor. So that’s you know this is going to be.
A multi multi billion dollar industry is going to trillions of dollars. I have no doubt about it in due course over the next. You know 7 to 10 years for sure now. The the one we experience,
0:35:30 – Speaker #2
you know before we go any further, but really it really resonated with me. When we spoke again we were planning this. This salt talk about your personal experience. We heard from Jr about how in his personal life, how psychedelics have been helpful to heal some of these issues that that were late and his consciousness but tell us about your experience with ayahuasca.
0:35:51 – Speaker #6
Right, so my first experience with psychedelics is at the age of 38. You know, I I was one of those, just a nerdy geeky guys. It was reading a whole lot about altered states of consciousness because that’s where that you know, esoteric strides studies and quantum physics. Sort of led me to an I read one of the authors. His name is Graham Hancock wrote a profound book called Supernatural and all he was trying to do was trying to explain why is it that cave art which is 50,000 years old, found in South America found in Australia and in Europe. Vast distances from each other resemble an have the same sort of features, and his conclusion was through great research was that these were done by individuals that had had some form of a psychedelic experience, and then they drew this, and so there were distinct patterns that were recognizable throughout regardless of your ethnic background,
you upbringing ethnicity so that was fascinating. I contacted Graham and we became good friends and he invited me down to Brazil. So I went down to Brazil in 2009. Like I said, I was 38 years of age. Never had any psychedelics before and spend 2 weeks down there trying to understand the shipibo traditions and their ways. And there were a bunch of other professors and anthropologists there and a few individuals that were suffering from stage four cancer stage,
three cancer and other mental health issues. What I saw there was profound not only in terms of the journey that I went through and what I saw on, you know, through ayahuasca, but in particular the stage four cancer ovarian cancer. Patient is still living. The stage three cancer pancreatic cancer patient is still in remission and and there was a suicidal ideations in case there that individual is still living. So I knew that there was something to do here, but I didn’t know as an investment professional, what the hell I could do?
It wasn’t an industry. Then there was not much to do in terms of investing in this space. Until we saw what happened in 2017, 2018 with what you know Compass in mind meant mind meant just for the record was our first ever investment. We’ve made 19 investments in this space, seen over 250 different opportunities, been very selective and you know. And and now this is an industry that you’ve got. You’ve got, you know, well over 30 publicly traded companies in this space, there are 400 private companies that are that are in this space working on various molecules or aspects of this industry. So it’s it’s now become an industry that can invite a lot of capital,
and that’s what we’ve seen. So. So that’s the personal journey that kind of got me to the point where I just didn’t know what to do about that experience. But I knew that it was profound at so many different levels. For me personally, I can just say,
and obviously this is. This is very subjective. My tolerance levels went up. I became a better father. I became a better husband. I became a better son,
a better coworker. My fears went away. My fear of death. My whole relationship with death and understanding of death went away. Lotterby inhibitions went away, so it made me a lot more. Grounded Elite made me a lot more in touch with with everything and just a just a healthier individual.
What I call a much much.
0:39:13 – Speaker #2
Wealthier individuals, so that that’s my personal journey there. Thanks for sharing that saw Jay. I want to move to you. Assad talked about the size of this psychedelics movement an you know mine. Med is not the only player in the space. You’re one of the larger players, but could you talk about just the growth of the psychedelics market institutions that have started to come on board and exciting growth prospects that you’re seeing within the psychedelics industry?
0:39:40 – Speaker #3
Well, look, I think really 2020 was was the start of the. You know the publicly listed component of the space and you saw both ourselves and compass go public that the in 2020, all both achieving Unicorn status and in terms of valuation. Along with that, I so there’s really a clear pack in front when it comes to to ourselves and other more upstarts in. In the space. Well, what I think you know when we talk about psychedelic medicine.
Zazen as a new asset class in biotech. It’s also in many ways a new paradigm for how we’re treating mental health. And we’re doing a really bad job of treating mental health in America. It’s the bastard child of the American health care system. 60% of US counties don’t have a psychiatrist.
80% of our SSRI or anti depression medications that are prescribed which. Aren’t really, you know, helping people and in many instances are prescribed by doctors, just normal GPS that that are your family doctor. They have no specialization in in psychiatry and So what? I think the overall Blue Sky opportunity here in psychedelics is not just the drug trials that are that are undergoing here. I think it is that they will be catalysts for building out further infrastructure to retool how we treat mental health in America. And I, you know, I think we we we spend just under 300 billion dollars a year, unmet behavioral health in America. We’re going to need far more than that,
spending wise to treat some of the issues that are coming out of here. 40% of Americans have some form of a mental health issue or an addiction during kovit. These problems aren’t going away if you look just even at Rat Park models. Which are, you know where they took two sets of rats and they put. One set in isolation, the other are they allowed to run around in a little city? The consumption of addictive substances went up 18 fold.
We just had the largest rat park model in human history. Just happened to us with all these lockdowns. The wing, a ring of facts of COVID-19 on our mental health as a society and globally. To me the pandemic is going to turn into a mental health epidemic an it’s it’s good that companies like us exist and that we’re rethinking how we treat mental health in this country and globally.
0:42:23 – Speaker #2
So sod building on what they are just said. Why did you go out and start noetic to tackle these issues that you’re seeing in society as well?
0:42:34 – Speaker #6
Thanks John short so um. No, it was a very organic endeavour, really it was. Three partners coming together. Realizing that this is a space that we wanted to get involved in, we saw what was happening with Compass without I live Sage Therapeutics, perception life Sciences, and we wanted to invest, so we pulled our own capital together. Our first investment, as I mentioned, was mine met, and we just started to grow the portfolio and slowly we started to attract family members and friends and they said, well, what are you up to and what are you doing? And we’re like, well, we’re very excited about this space,
but not for everybody. But but we think it’s going to be huge. And and that just general. It really just grew from there we, you know, we’ve got a fund. Now that has assets under management, about 40 million. Who made 19 investments? We’ve had a few realizations as well that is generated 189% return profile, so it’s an exciting area for sure.
But it’s it’s really moving at breakneck speed. There are five companies in our portfolio that are public. We only invest in private right that have gone public there about four or five more that are slated to go public, so this market is moving fast. Obviously the public markets are responding very favorably to psychedelics as well, because it’s actually getting to the root cause of the issues and solving the problem as opposed to just treating the symptoms and everybody sort of following up on the science. Now, what’s particularly pertinent is that when you get CNN, 60 minutes, New York Times,
Washington Post. Wall Street Journal Bloomberg all start to report on psychedelics in a very favorable light. You know that this is beyond just a fad or trend or movement. This has really, you know, taken off and and and so ours was inorganic endeavour, which you know, we’ve closed our first fund. We’re going to be launching a second fund, which is more for institutional investors. And that’s why I feel that platform, such as this a very,
very important. We need to. This industry needs to get the institutional investors involved here and they are taking note. There’s a first ETF that just went up. Horizons ETF on psychedelics. They’re going to be more.
They’re going to follow, so certainly institutions are perking up to this. But institutional institutions really need to pay attention to what’s going on. Pay attention to the signs and play a meaningful role going forward. And that’s what we want to try and help and support.
0:45:00 – Speaker #2
Jerry, are we have a couple of minutes left. I want to finish with you talking about the regulatory side. So where are we? Are you more optimistic now with the new administration coming in? That might be a little more open minded to these treatments and in specific states. What type of measures and progress have we seen adopted that give you hope about the future regulatory environment for psychedelic treatments?
0:45:23 – Speaker #3
Well, I think I think you know, with the incoming Biden administration and you know, let’s see how that goes. But you know, the blue wave that you know could could be undergoing here, I think is is positive for the psychedelic space. I think there’s going to be more spending on behavioral health and mental health. I think the opioid crisis was was attacked by the Trump administration, right? They came out and they declared war on it.
We have more opioid deaths. This year, then we did, when when, when the outgoing administration started, so still very big problems to solve. But what I think is interesting is that the space is becoming far more institutional. When I first started fund raising from mine Med, nobody really took me seriously. In Silicon Valley, they just didn’t think that this space was going to be possible. There were early folks like Sods,
nomadic fund and and others that that took some big bets on us and were rewarded handsomely. As as we went public this year, we’re starting to see you know, lots of the hedge fund community from in in New York come into this space in a very, very big way. You know their characters that are in the in billions. The series that are, you know, going on ayahuasca sessions or the real life folks that are the basis for those characters are investing in companies like ourselves and. You know, I think dashes and overall destigmatization but also a wake up from Wall Street.
That mental health and addiction can be a very big industry. And unfortunately it’s probably going to be a boom industry because of what’s transpired here and lock down in covid. But coming back to your question around on the regulatory framework that we work under an what’s ongoing in the United States currently, everything that we do need to be federally compliant. Our institutional investors require it. We we we have taken investments from from some very big institutions that manage academic institutions, money and so anything that we do need to be federally compliant as a promise I made to one of our first seed investors,
Kevin O’Leary. He he had no involvement in the cannabis space because they weren’t going and approaching their space in a federally compliant manner. So everything we do is at the through an FDA pathway. Or if we do a drug trial overseas, it’s. It’s through a nationally registered health regulator.
But there is movements. There are movements. For example, in Oregon you saw measure 109 pass. I think the reason that this measure pass and just to clarify what that is, it it basically wiegold legalized the use of psilocybin therapy in the state of Oregon. It’s has a two year hiatus before it can come into effect. We think this is a positive step in the right direction, but our ambition as a company is to make medicines for all Americans.
That are scalable an an A an institutional grade business. And so we need everything to be federally compliant and we find that the FDA pathway is going to be the most efficient pathway to achieve that for both our shareholders and our patients. We don’t want a scenario where it’s legal in one state, but it’s not legal in the other that doesn’t. That doesn’t really build a big business or help. A lot of people are. Our objective is to heal people,
so I think those are positive movements. But I think what people and investors should really be looking at. Are not the political process that are behind psychedelics. They should be looking at the data and the science, the safety and the efficacy. ’cause that’s what the FDA cares about and we think that’s the most efficient pathway. And the FDA is very receptive to what we’re working on here, and they should be because these are very,
0:49:28 – Speaker #2
very large problems in society that we need to solve over the next few years after this pandemic closes up. Another piece that resonated with me. When we were talking before we did this session was SSR eyes, which are a common prescription for people that are suffering from a variety of different elements. Whether it be addiction, anxiety, depression, the efficacy rates of those drugs are very, very low. I think somewhere between 10 and 30%, so this provides another alternative that really gets to the root causes as opposed to the the type of experimentation you see with SSR eyes.
Yeah, thanks so much. I gotta go ahead Jay are just comment on that briefly.
0:50:08 – Speaker #3
Yeah SSR eyes are also highly addictive. You know they’re not. They’re not easy things to get off of and and and so it’s something to consider. The substances that we’re working on. If you look at the toxicity and we still have a lot of preclinical work that we need to do it across different psychedelic molecules.
But these are relatively non toxic substances that we’re dealing with and. Relatively easy to to get drug trials up and running in the phase one and phase two yeah and and and just too important.
0:50:42 – Speaker #6
Note it without any physiologically addictive properties. That’s a very important feature,
0:50:47 – Speaker #-1
right? That that right so well Jr Ronan Saad Shaw.
0:50:50 – Speaker #2
Thank you so much for joining us today on salt talks. These are the type of topics we loved the dive into. It’s an emerging asset class from an investment perspective and it’s something with huge potential returns, not just on investment capital but of human capital. And the ability for us to finally start addressing this epidemic, as Jay are referred to of mental health issues that has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. So thank you so much for joining us. We look forward to reprising this conversation either in the future on salt talks,
or like you mentioned, saw earlier at one of our in person conferences potentially later this year. So looking forward to that. And thank you so much for joining us.
0:51:28 – Speaker #6
Thank you John. Thank you,
0:51:30 – Speaker #2
Anthony. Thank you, thank you. Thank you everybody who tuned into today’s salt talk on psychedelics. It’s definitely an interesting topic that we’re looking forward to exposing more people on if you miss any of this episode, you can always access our archive of salt talks on our YouTube channel or on our website at salt.org
talks. Back slash archive. You can also sign up for all of our future talks at salt.org talks. Please tell your friends about salt talks. We love growing our community. If you found this conversation interesting.
Please refer people to our website salt.org where they can participate both in our conferences and in these salt talks and please follow us on social media. We’re on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. On behalf of the entire salt team, this is John Darcy signing off for today will see you back here again tomorrow on salt talks.
The post SALT Talks: Psychedelics with Sa’ad Shah (Noetic Fund) & JR Rahn (MindMed) appeared first on Microdose Psychedelic Insights.