It is clear that the rapid medicalization and promise of legalized or decriminalized psychedelics is creating an economic gold rush. This is also raising important questions about community needs and who benefits. As well it should.
As I’ve written elsewhere, inequality may in fact represent one of the largest detrimental influences on the health of individuals, communities, and the natural world. Citizens across the planet are experiencing a deepening spiritual emptiness as our economic model pulls us away from a vital sense of connection and relationship with one another and the earth; this connection helps make us resilient and well. (We’ll be touching on some of this in our upcoming Reconnections webinar series on Psychedelics, Community Mental Health and Transformation).
In this context, it is easy to understand how capital and the promise of psychedelic medicine is fueling a growth industry. It is more challenging to grasp how the nature of the booming psychedelic economic ecosystem itself has the potential to exacerbate the crisis it is seeking to solve.
It is a reminder that thinking differently about mental health alone will not suffice; we also have to appreciate the interwoven linkages between health and the economic system. These are not mutually exclusive; internal transformation and a regenerative, life sustaining livable economy are interdependent. We are called to put the economy in service to the sacred, instead of the other way around.
Paradigm change won’t be easy as the “business as usual” mindset and neural pathways of the dominant culture are deeply wired in our collective consciousness. For example, over the past year PRATI has received a number of propositions from multi-million-dollar, venture capital backed psychedelic businesses: a start-up interested in purchasing our curriculum, another interested in exploring a fee-for-service arrangement with our alumni in which we can receive a revenue share for all the therapists we send their way. The proposals and ever-changing landscape are both alluring and a distraction from our core purpose—reconnecting to the Sacred.
Yet, there is another way and an abundance of examples across sectors that are serving to anchor the foundation of a regenerative economy—community-wealth building, shared ownership, preserving the commons, decreasing wealth disparities. This paradigm emphasizes new governance and ownership models and funding mechanisms that democratize capital such as Perpetual Purpose Trusts, not-for-profit psychedelic health plans, Direct Public Offerings, co-operatives and more. This is where we want to focus our psychedelic ecosystem work. Our culture is not lacking in regenerative models and examples, yet we understand how many can feel overwhelmed about where to start. Let’s start by asking ourselves what we can do together. So, together, let’s till the soil and nurture the radicles to bring this new world into being.
PRATI Executive Director