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For High Times readers, it’s no secret that corporate startups focused on microdosing psychedelics such as Psilocybe cubensis and LSD are turning heads for those trying to get ahead in today’s economy. While these investment prospects are exciting, curious minds may want to take a look at the bigger picture. A picture sometimes brought into focus by doing tons of acid.
FLASHBACK TO THE NINETIES
During my high school experience of the mid 90s, especially in small towns like the one I grew up in, the drug culture was booming. Hash, shrooms, and acid were king. A few designer drugs like ecstasy were starting to make their way to rural Canada but it hadn’t really hit yet. It was still difficult for people in rural Ontario to get flower.
In my last High Times article, “The New Narc,” I discussed that in those times, Regan’s reignited drug war was still running rampant even in Clinton’s America. Kurt Cobain had recently died and pop culture was trying to pick up the pieces.
During this time, my best friend, band mate, and party accomplice “Paul” was one of the most impressive humans I’ve ever met. In our early-to-mid teen years, “Paul” and I explored a variety of subcultures and the drugs that went with them. We were not special.
Kids of the 90s often considered the 60s “drug revolution” as “introductory.” This is the generation that brought us South Park, whose creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, famously went to The Oscars in drag and on acid.
In adulthood, most kids who were products of 90s counterculture revolutions such as grunge, punk, and techno can relate and reminisce about the state of partying experienced in the last few years on Earth before humans had global access to the internet.
Twenty to thirty years later, it’s not hard to imagine why this generation’s zeitgeist has a relaxed and open mind towards drugs. Several counterculture industries like skateboarding, cannabis, and wall art have begun revolutionizing what the corporate landscape of the 2020s can look like.
Modern society has begun rewriting the narratives of what was once considered degenerate behavior.
BAD TIPS / BAD TRIPS
Currently, many private and public psychedelic companies are focusing on mental health, addiction, and PTSD research. While this research is important and exciting, most agree that we may never see psychedelics as a recreational device. This means that those who obey laws, and prescribe as followed, may never truly understand the true potential of their investments.
To gain insight on the psychedelic investment landscape, we spoke with Doctor Darryl Hudson, a respected, peer reviewed, and published molecular biologist based in Toronto, Ontario. Dr. Darryl is also a specialist in cannabis and plant medicines. He is celebrated for his work in the field of cannabis and PTSD and has publicly spoken on multiple panels on the aforementioned subjects. He’s also a metalhead, which rips.
Dr. Darryl’s company GoodCap Pharmaceuticals, are developing low-dose non-hallucinatory products that they hope will someday be available in a prescription drug format.
According to Dr. Darryl, “Access is the number one concern I have with these medicines. I would hope to see complete decriminalization of psychedelic molecules (for which safety has been established) in the future. At the very least, regulated access through the established medical industry. We desperately need many of these medications to be available to the general public, which means mass production and major corporations getting involved.”
While a leading voice and advocate of psychedelics as medicine, Dr. Darryl fears there are dangers that reflect the early days of cannabis legalization. Dangers those looking to invest and the general public should be aware of.
“We see problematic behavior in the emerging psychedelic industry from some ‘vulture capitalists’ attempting to profit from these medicines without understanding them. As with cannabis, those who care only about profits are not likely to survive long. Product quality and in this case, patient care is likely to be a bigger factor in gaining long term traction and a loyal consumer base. We have already seen public companies abandon projects,” Dr. Darryl says.
FLASHBACK TO THE FUTURE
In our youth, Paul and I, along with many in our friends group, followed a traditional small town drug-experimentation-trajectory. This trajectory went from beer and liquor to weed and hash, followed by mushrooms.
After mushrooms, many moved on to acid. Those who acid agreed with it, did it again and again. Then after that, they did more acid. Then they ate acid for dinner and dessert topped with liquid acid.
LSD and Paul gelled. It allowed him to become Ferris Bueller on drugs (I’ll explain later). It made him somewhat of a visionary. His understanding of this drug, combined with his ability to be productive on it, is exactly why all investors, predatory and casual alike, should experience LSD and all psychedelics to their fullest before investing. Understanding these products could guide more than just a publicly shared company’s success.
USER HABITS AND THE CONSUMPTION OF PSYCHEDELICS
In today’s climate, ideas like organic LSD, LSA, or LSH, have wealthy thought leaders gathering around the Joshua Trees of the world. These forward thinking innovators conduct mind melding money meetings with spores of opportunity. While Netflix originals like Goop homogenize the movement, powerhouse leaders of industry are a buzz with the buzziest buzz words no one can say or spell like “psilocybin” or “psilocin,” the active psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms.
On the street, LSD traditionally came in the form of tiny square pieces of 1cm by 1cm construction paper, usually with a cartoon on them, called “tabs” or “hits.” These tabs were, and still are to this day, ingested under the tongue until dissolution. The high would generally last from four to eight hours.
Today, there is no limit to the consumption methods. Tinctures, capsules, infused edibles, are all easily and readily available with the proper know-how. But all of these have been synthesized in the basements of unsuspecting parents for decades.
“To my knowledge, LSD as well as many psychedelic drugs are not extremely difficult to chemically synthesize,” Dr. Darryl says. “Methods have been published and patented in the past. I recently had a colleague tell me they made the equivalent of 3.5 million doses in an approved GMP setting. With competition in the space for pricing of API’s (approved pharmaceutical ingredients) I do not expect the molecules themselves to be highly valuable. There are many companies in other countries who can and will make these molecules for cheap.”
“Unlike cannabis,” Dr. Darryl says, “people do not consume large quantities of psychedelics, and psilocybin is no exception. By my estimates, most people use less than 10 grams of mushrooms per year. Even if someone microdosed 1/10th of a gram every day, that’s only 36.5 grams in a year. I have smoked that much weed in one night.”
WELCOME TO ACID TOWN
There was no shortage of urban myths surrounding acid in Carlisle, Ontario which I imagine was the same everywhere. Everyone heard the tales and warnings about having flashbacks as an adult. Or, that acid was LSD mixed with rat poison. Or, that it was the most illegal drug because it was classified as a crime against the government. Or, and perhaps the biggest warning about acid was that users could go “clinically insane” after taking 75 hits combined even over a period of time. In our small town, we had no idea about dosage. We had no idea other than the experience. Also, no one gave a fuck at all.
Several early mornings in high school, Paul and I would synchronize dropping acid or eating mushrooms so we’d be high by the time we met on the school bus. We would get shipped into a slightly bigger town called Waterdown for school. Our goal was to be “peaking” while playing freeze tag in first-period drama. We had far surpassed the 75 hits mark. The idea that this would make us “clinically insane” became funnier and funnier to us. What we had learned was that LSD was honing our ability to detect bullshit. We thought we had it all figured out. We jammed in our punk band all week and threw shows on the weekends where we’d sling hash and acid to our friends.
High doses of LSD seemed to give us a heightened ability to detect societal and social micro-transactions. For some it meant the ability to detect disingenuous behavior, others could focus on the flaws of our structured society, whatever the scenario, most will tell you that high doses of LSD force internal and external transparency.
Paul somehow managed to become Student Council President of our high school. A miraculous feat considering we never went to school. One of Paul’s more successful initiatives, was a team building exercise designed and concocted by Paul on acid, where he would turn the school’s two story indoor atrium into a giant pirate ship.
His plan was to go to school high on acid while dressed as a pirate and make the entire student body and faculty walk a plank into a sea of crash mats.
The initiative was wildly successful and made the local papers. It was also a huge feature in that years’ student yearbook. Paul had the good sense to do the event sober. As it were, our antics wouldn’t be exposed just yet.
Paul’s parents were lovely hippies who lived in the small town of Carlisle, Ontario. Paul’s mom was a grade two school teacher. She specialized in theater and song. His dad, a reclusive bearded genius who often referred to us as vampires because of our late-night antics. They definitely knew we were on more drugs than just weed, but weren’t sure what.
One school night our merry band of dipshits skipped out early to congregate in Paul’s parents basement, as we often did.
Paul had a lot of acid that night and we ate all of it. An hour or so later, we were having a time. We wandered around Paul’s parent’s house like giggling-acid-zombies observing with humility the absurdity of reality, as one often does on that drug.
We went about our business without a care in the world. In our exploits, we stumbled upon a video camera. This was an exciting find as video cameras weren’t nearly as common as they are now. We didn’t question the why or how this camera had appeared, how could it not be a good idea to film our LSD-induced antics?
We threw the camera over our shoulder and wandered out into the quiet streets of Carlisle, Ontario. Some light mischievous vandalism seemed to be on the menu.
Our quest began with the changing of the letters on the portable marquees at the bank and church. We changed the church sign to read “Beavers & Cunts” instead of “Beavers and Scouts registration” and we changed the local bank’s sign to read, “Welcome To Acid Town.”
We were unsupervised gremlins worshiping at the altar of silly. Our mindset was to challenge all institutional structures and values.
High as fuck and camera still rolling, we rallied back to Paul’s basement dwelling. We had no intention of slowing down. Paul stripped down to tiny leopard print underwear, put on pigtails and wailed on guitar while sporting pink Minnie Mouse sunglasses. A few of us set the table top hockey on fire and played catching trails as the player pieces danced up and down the pressboard. It was excessive to say the least. There was also a ferret for some reason.
The next day, we woke up in the pitch black to Paul’s Mom running down the steps to the basement. She was yelling at the top of her lungs, which was very odd for her. Paul’s Dad could also be heard in the background referring to us as Vampires.
“What the fuck did you do last night?” she yelled.
Paul did his best to cover for us. He said we had only been smoking weed but we were already busted. Hard.
As it turns out, the camera we found belonged to Paul’s mom’s school. We had accidentally taped over Paul’s Mom’s grade two student theater production with our acid trip.
As legend has it; Paul’s mom hit play on the video camera assuming the kid’s play was cued up and left the classroom. When she returned, to her dismay, she found a lot of sad, disappointed and very confused six year olds.
After that, I was banned from Paul’s house. The jig was up. We were busted. In addition to video taping the evidence, we had also accidentally ratted ourselves out to my mom as well. I had left a message on her answering machine, letting her know I was going to stay at Paul’s house, but the machine also picked up Paul asking everyone how many hits of acid we all wanted in the background. We were terrible drug dealers.
A few nights later, we sat in Paul’s car overlooking Carlisle. Paul revealed that he wanted to infuse the town’s water supply with LSD. He wanted everyone to have as much fun as us.
Paul’s theory was that if we just gave everyone the tiniest bit, maybe LSD would help our uptight small town become more enlightened. Paul wanted to make Acid Town a reality.
As comically villainous as Paul’s theory could be interpreted, he had formulated the notion of microdosing. Although this delivery system would have landed us in jail for a very long time. This is where we decided to chill on the acid for a bit. Maybe let all of the trouble we were in blow over. By this time, everyone in the area knew we were the “Beavers & Cunts” responsible for laying waste to half of the town.
A year or two later, I moved to a new town and slowly drifted from that crowd. Started a new band shortly after, but I think about those days fondly. I don’t regret a thing.
While “enhanced” water supplies are not likely to be the route we see the medical world take psychedelics as a medicine, Doctor Darryl believes that controlled psychedelic experiences can be beneficial.
“To date, the programs involving legal access to psychedelics do so in a highly controlled setting with psychotherapy included, often two people overseeing the actual experience,” Dr. Darryl says. “From a regulatory perspective, this is quite understandable so as to mitigate risks that may be associated with consumption of high doses causing a psychedelic experience.”
In retrospect, none of us died from rat poison, none of us are clinically insane, and none of us ended up being considered enemies of the establishment.
Years later, I still keep in touch with Paul and most of that friend group. Paul ended up becoming a real estate mogul, architect, and a great dad. When we reminisce, we laugh at our days under the influence of acid.
Everyone in that group feels that LSD made them a better person in one way or another. Whether the drug itself made us hyper-aware, or fried our brains just enough that we see the world a little differently, most 90s “acid-heads” will agree that the drug is a vessel towards introspection and often, humility. While at one point we were avid users of LSD, for most, it’s been years since experimenting again. Some haven’t since.
The potential psychedelics can have on our society is vast. If you’re looking to invest in psychedelic startups, do as much acid as possible. Immediately. You might learn that you dislike LSD. It might become a religion. It might help you detect who the pump and dumps are. Or it might put you 30 years ahead of the thought curve like Paul.
It’s inevitable that Acid Town will be gentrified. It has unlimited potential. However, investors might want to test the water before buying.