As mental health has expanded in the public consciousness, many are exploring the opportunities in alternative treatments available through psychedelic drugs, he says. Over the last two-to-three years, he has had clients involved in psychedelics emerge from both the capital markets and research and development streams of the industry.
“It’s been an interesting confluence of factors to result in a burgeoning Canadian-led psychedelic industry,” he says.
Merk’s psychedelic clients divide into four categories, he says. There are pharmaceutical companies, focused on the medicinal benefits contained in psychedelics and are searching for new molecules, variations of existing molecules and delivery systems. There are nutraceutical companies, which explore the health components of, for example, non-psychedelic mushrooms. There are also clinics, the most common being for ketamine treatments, which are approved by Health Canada in certain circumstances. Ketamine is a pain killer used in veterinary medicine, but also commonly used as a party drug by humans.
The fourth type of psychedelics client is in the tourism business – arranging trips centred around use of a psychedelic in jurisdictions where it is legal. For example, the Magic Truffle experience in the Netherlands or psilocybin in Brazil.
“Unlike cannabis, where, for the most part, you can look at the Cannabis Act… Each of those four different types of psychedelics companies has a variety of regulations associated with it,” says Merk.