Leading medical professionals in the field of psychedelics believe that an information and access gap exists between researchers and the public. The newly formed Psychedelic Medicine Association (PMA) aims to close the information chasm.
Launched in late September 2020, the PMA is a global public healthcare effort led by some of the world’s leading medical authorities on the subject. Billed as being run by healthcare providers for healthcare providers, the group hopes to inform patients and the industry better. The group is committed to eight points of improvement in the space, including education, advocacy, access, collaboration, professional development, as well as promoting diversity and inclusion. Other commitments center on catalyzing novel treatments and discouraging acts deemed harmful, including exploitation.
With a focus on transparency and backed by its commitment to education, the PMA’s site offers overviews of various psychedelics, the subject’s history, and a blog section. The PMA also offers paid courses on topics that delve into safe use, ketamine assisted therapy, psychedelic integration and several other studies.
With the psychedelics space sorely lacking a free flow of helpful information, sources tell High Times that any reasonable faith effort is welcomed.
How Severe Is The Information Gap In Psychedelics?
Those in the psychedelic community, be they physicians, patients or business owners, all seem to agree that a significant information gap exists.
Dr. Ryan Hartwell is a Canadian affiliate research scientist, business owner and serves as an advisor to Mind Cure, a company that aims to use psychoactive and psychedelic treatments to address various mental health conditions. Hartwell said psychedelics are one area practitioners tend to offer sparse information. He noted that many Canadian physicians opt to speak minimally on the issue, with most choosing to not comment or advise beyond the statements delivered by Health Canada. Hartwell believes that the decriminalization of such substances could only further the information gap.
“Naturopathic doctors and general practitioners are already divided on how to approach and practice holistic medicine. So, my guess is that unless an informed standardized practice and product claims included in pharmacopeias can be established, the gap in information will continue to exist as it does today,” said Hartwell.
Others in the space echoed similar sentiments. They include Ronan Levy, executive chairman of psychedelic therapy company Field Trip. While Levy agrees that a gap exists, he feels that the space to fill in is much less than cannabis. He believes that cannabis served as the topic that opened the door for talks on psychedelics subjects.
“But, more importantly, because psychedelic medicine is being led by science and clinical data, as opposed to grassroots efforts in the case of cannabis, the conversation is much easier because it is data-driven, not political,” Levy added.
Some patients are feeling the effects of the gap in immense fashion. Pádraig Carroll is a Dublin, Ireland resident and long-time psychedelic proponent. His nearly three decades of use include the last three years using psilocybin as a medical treatment to address his PTSD and borderline personality disorder.
“It is so severe that there is no true current connection,” Carroll said of the gap in his country. He alleged that psychiatrists in the Irish Health Service are unaware of psilocybin trials occurring in their own country.
“One patient made them aware of psilocybin, yet the connection was not made,” he claimed.
Will Groups Like The PMA Close The Gap?
Sources believe that the PMA and others could significantly close the information gap while advancing the conversation.
Field Trip’s Levy said that, like all new ideas, the PMA would need to create multiple touchpoints from credible information sources to convince people of the concept. He believes the group will achieve its goal. “With the incredible people and companies behind the PMA, we expect the PMA will be a very influential voice in the evolution of psychedelic medicine.”
Dr. Hartwell sees potential in the PMA, helping shape psychedelics in Canada. He believes that the country would be in the best position to succeed if the PMA could establish or lead on Health Canada committees and practices in the industry.
“The medical community should be the advocate… as they already are crying for help in several areas that will benefit from psychedelics,” said Hartwell.
While the need for additional research and clarity is imperative, the PMA could take some time to come online and reach its potential. Carroll, who holds an MBA, predicts that the group will take years to scale to its ideal global size, a difficult task for any business.
The patient-advocate feels that the PMA should use caution, avoiding a fall into any potential ethical issues or “land grab” type situations. Instead of grabbing market space, he’d prefer to see the group remain focused on education and advocacy. “They need to be open science-oriented, non-profit, patient advocacy-oriented advisory groups,” he said.
Carroll added, “Without this, it will be a simple membership org for doctors and therapists who will be beholden to sponsors.”
Falling prey to big money is always a concern and remains uncertain for the PMA at this time. That said, most expect the group to garner support in the medical world for the most part.
Attempts to grow within the medical community will receive its fair share of approval, according to sources, but could find opposition along the way as well, said Mind Cure COO Kelsey Ramsden.
Ramsden said everyone’s perception of the group is uncertain. She added, “I believe that reception of any group of this kind will mirror their own alignment to outcomes that support a shared vision with integrity.”
Levy feels the group will receive acceptance from the medical community due to the credentials of its advocates. Levy believes the PMA’s communication style works on both patients and professionals in addition to a high level of credibility. “These two factors align to the PMA being very effective in educating people about the potential of psychedelic medicine,” he said.
It’s great to see organisations like the PMA entering the industry. Without a doubt, there will continue to be a huge knowledge gap. So addressing this as early as possible is vital.