Psychedelic drugs that have long fueled the party circuit are now poised to become a legit treatment for mental health – and you can partly thank free-thinking billionaires from Silicon Valley and Wall Street.
Currently, only ketamine – known on the club scene since the 1990s as “special K” – is legal for medicinal use among psychedelics. But MDMA – also known as ecstasy and molly – has recently finished phase 3 clinical trials for mental health treatment.
That tees up MDMA to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration as “breakthrough therapy” as soon as the first quarter of 2024.
If that sounds mind-blowing, consider that Elon Musk regularly microdoses on ketamine to treat depression and that he takes a full dose at parties, according to a Wall Street Journal report this week. Musk chimed in on Twitter and said taking ketamine beats “zombifying people with SSRIs.”
Google co-founder Sergey Brin, meanwhile, is a fan of magic mushrooms, whose active ingredient is psilocybin. The late Steve Jobs was a vocal advocate of LSD and billionaire Peter Thiel has poured millions into ATAI Life Science, a firm that aims to use hallucinogens in medicine.
“There’s been such a long stigma attached to these compounds since the 1970s – people have thought these compounds are bad for you and make you unproductive,” said Dustin Robinson, who runs Iter Investments, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., firm that invests in psychedelic startups.
The fact that some of the world’s most successful business moguls are touting their benefits “has opened people’s minds,” Robinson told On The Money.
Last week on Wall Street, Mets owner Steve Cohen donated $5 million to MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelics Studies, which insiders say deserves some credit for MDMAs striking progress in clinical trials at the FDA.
Initially, MDMA will only be administered to individuals who have acute mental health conditions like PTSD and will only be available in clinical settings. Picking up a prescription for ecstasy at your local drugstore when you’re in a funk is farther down the road, sources add.
Still, the combination of funding research and publicly advocating for these drugs has meant the acceptance of psychedelic drugs has moved forward quickly.
“These billionaires have brought both capital for research and credibility,” Robinson said.
Other tech tycoons who have given millions to support psychedelic research include GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons.
TOMS shoes founder Blake Mycoskie has committed to donate at least $100 million to research and advocacy of recreational drugs.
Mycoskie — along with investors Tim Ferriss, Craig Nuremberg and WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg — also have donated millions to create the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research.