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Cannabis Watchers Are Looking Into Psychedelics

Now that almost everyone in North America has accepted what medical marijuana can do for PTSD, we may be ready for the next big leap… into psychedelics.—a website that follows “all things cannabis”—is taking note. The parallels are striking.

Both cannabis and psychedelics share a history of being shamed as street drugs and idolized as potential cures. Marijuana’s role in calming PTSD is so well researched and verified that no one who has looked at the science seriously doubts it these days.  But psychedelics may have an even more powerful future in mental health.

Mental health issues are a C$51 billion burden on the Canadian economy.

Canncentral reporter Charlie Smith recently talked to Vancouver physician Evan Wood about the prospects. Wood has spent almost two decades as a researcher who specializes in the relationship between addiction and mental health. That made him the ideal person to become the chief medical officer for Vancouver-based Numinus Wellness Inc.

Numinus is licensed by Health Canada to test, sell, and distribute psychedelic substances. And the company is focusing on mental health and addiction issues right up Wood’s alley like alcoholism, depression and PTSD.

One area where Wood has high hopes for a breakthrough treatment is alcoholism.

“It’s not a cure for everybody,” Wood told Canncentral, “but in comparison to the best available treatments we have for alcohol or nicotine addiction—and there’s some work being done in cocaine addiction as well—the rates of remission are pretty dramatic over the best available standard of care that we have to offer for those conditions. So it really looks like something is there.”

Wood is even more upbeat about another Numinus project. In a Phase III trial on the psychedelic MDMA, the drug is proving to have a statistically significant effect on treating mental trauma, particularly PTSD. In yet another Phase III trial Numinus is looking into psilocybin to treat depression.

The reason that psychedelics may work so well is that they behave unusually. As Wood explained, drugs like antivirals target receptors in the central nervous system to cause a physiological change. Psychedelics don’t change the body. They are all about experience when receptors are activated. But once the brain is activated, new neural connections can be made… and therein lies the potential for a healing process.

Brain imaging has established that psychedelics like LSD latch onto receptors in the brain’s prefrontal cortex and other more primitive areas of the brain. The prefrontal cortex has been likened to the brain’s CEO.

Numinus is now reaching out to other labs and researchers to expand its work. The market potential for this newly public company is rich. Mental health issues are a C$51 billion burden on the Canadian economy. The US faces an even larger $193 billion in lost wages every year.

Health Canada has given Numinus rights to test several psychedelics, including MDMA and psilocybin. The company is also entitled to distribute these drugs for their own research trials and to supply other groups conducting their own trials.

Wood is now working to set up the company’s first treatment center in Canada sometime next year in Vancouver.

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