The Role of Education in Psychedelic Corporate Social Responsibility

For more the latest updates and deepest insights into psychedelic education and the mushrooming fungi space, be sure to check out The Mushroom Conference: A Molecular Masterclass taking place November 20-22nd. Susan Chapelle from Havn Life will be one of many experts speaking at our dynamic upcoming conference. Click here to get your tickets today!


Cooperation, Not Competition

Since time immemorial, the use of psychedelics have embodied a message of oneness and cooperation rather than competition. We can see this in it’s ritualistic usage, where participants would hone in on feelings of connectedness to higher powers and community building. We can see this again in the politically disruptive 1960s, where psychedelic usage sparked heavy anti war rhetoric and grassroots organizing efforts. Now, we can see it in the motives behind the psychedelic medicine industry – a fresh slate of minds geared towards healing others.


Indeed, psychedelic research is leaving behind the era of underground laboratories and clandestine chemistry as it becomes legitimized and heavily funded. However, it is also entering the arena of massive influence, mass production, and mass consumption. How can this new industry avoid the pitfalls of “business as usual” operations? Likewise, how can it continue the psychedelic tradition of sharing knowledge communally? 


The answer resides in psychedelic education and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Separating Psychedelic Medicine from Conventional Medicine

CSR separates psychedelic medicine from other industries which not only neglect CSR opportunities, but contributes to the oppressive conditions subjected onto the working class. Psychedelic medicine companies have the opportunity to turn the “healing” industry into a healing and helping industry – one that doesn’t contribute to the underlying traumas that psychedelic medicine aims to treat in the first place.

I firmly believe that education is the first step to properly implementing CSR, and for this reason, I will use Havn Life as an example of how this industry can prioritize social change. The Canadian biotechnology company is pursuing standardized extraction of psychoactive compounds, the development of natural healthcare products, and innovative mental health treatment. Moreover, their team consists of individuals with backgrounds that are especially useful in promoting CSR, and this is immediately evident in their relations to academia and educator roles.

havn life psychedelic education

A Strategy That Truly Utilizes Academia

Many companies in this space are using IP strategy to formulate products restricted to their company. However, using IP strategy with natural compounds is quite prohibitive to academics.

“There is so much work to do in the academic space,” said Susan Chapelle, Executive VP of Research & Development at Havn Life with an extensive track record in public policy, healthcare, and the nonprofit sector. 

“Researchers currently do not have access to natural compounds to do this work,” said Chapelle. “So safety profiles that are required for psilocybin and other psychedelics haven’t been established.”

Rather than dodging this problem, Havn Life tackles it head on. The company works closely with academics to develop these safety profiles – which is a vital first step towards changing the prohibitive public policy surrounding psilocybin, for example. “As we supply more researchers and clinical trials, we’ll be able to collect the data that’s required to make sure this substance is safe for human use,” said Chapelle.

By not using an IP strategy, Havn Life is providing an unprecedented opportunity to academic researchers, too. Their team of scientists check protocols and hypotheses to help researchers get to ethics review. Eventually, it is this company-meets-academia collaboration that will result in the safety protocol that gets Health Canada and the FDA to better understand the benefit of these substances.

Read PsyCap Recap: 3 Key Takeaways from the Havn Life Presentation at Psychedelic Capital 

Havn Life’s Educator Role Benefits Working Class Individuals

What initially drew me to Havn Life is the unique educational role they fulfill in this space, which directly benefits working class individuals. The sad truth is that psychedelic academia has a tendency to be overtly niche and riddled with insider jargon. However, Havn Life is breaking that cycle by providing accessible and digestible information on psychedelic research as it evolves.

“This industry has an incredible trajectory, but being entrenched in the industry, we forget that there’s patients that need to be brought along,” said Chapelle. “Education is needed for the public to accept psychedelics.”

The company regularly updates their blog with academic news pertaining to psychedelic research. The actual whitepapers are linked in each blog, allowing the public to investigate further if they choose to. To me, this illustrates the extent Havn values the institution of education.

Another example of Havn’s academic focus was announced recently, when the company joined the Drug Science Medical Psychedelic Working consortium, which consists of over 35 academics, researchers, and policy specialists from around the world. This academic collaboration results in data that is free from commercial influence.

“Education is a key piece of corporate social responsibility,” said Chapelle. “It’s making sure that the patients are informed and have a place to access new knowledge.” An accessible database bridges the divide between the public and the scientists. In contrast, pharmaceutical research was often hidden from the public, perhaps due to the non profitable truth that many pharmaceuticals are ineffective and dangerous to take.

“A lot of these pharmaceutical products, such as SSRIs, can have detrimental side effects,” said Chapelle. “Creating a safe alternative to these drugs is a form of corporate social responsibility in that it can keep the patients safe from harm.” 

Chapelle highlights this point by mentioning the damage done by the fentanyl crisis. “Poor drug policy and a lack of safe, standardized compounds in any realm of the drug sphere is detrimental to the working class and pushes a cycle of poverty,” said Chapelle. “The social responsibility that is inherent in this industry is ensuring that people have safe access to compounds that would otherwise be dangerous.”

Needless to say, educating the public on said safe alternatives is necessary for psychedelic CSR to take place.

We recently interviewed Susan Chapelle of Havn Life for our exciting new documentary, “The World on Drugs”, currently under production. Click here to check out highlights and exclusive behind-the-scenes content into our production. 

havn life psychedelic education

The Inherent Spirit of CSR in Psychedelic Medicine

Part of executing CSR is separating yourself from the companies that neglect it. “I think just entering the space at the very bottom of the supply chain in itself is an act of rebellion,” said Chapelle. “We’re not opening clinics. Our entire goal is to aid clinical researchers that are running clinical studies with humans, but can’t access natural compounds or study the entourage effect associated with these natural compounds.”

What limits all psychedelic medicine companies from executing CSR vigorously, of course, is the current state of public policy. However, by pushing for policy innovation, Havn Life is inherently working towards social change.

“Every one of us, including Barinder Rasode and I who have a background in politics, see the harm that drugs cause to a community if you don’t have the correct platform and access,” said Chapelle.

We can expect Havn Life to continue to pioneer research on natural psychedelic compounds, advocate for public policy change in the interest of the working class, and work closely with academia while simultaneously educating the public. However, the real excitement starts once psychedelic medicine achieves the necessary policy changes to truly transform mental health solutions. I believe Havn Life will execute CSR via making these medicines more accessible, pushing non-profit humanitarian efforts, and fighting against the poverty that creates the need for CSR in the first place.

But how else might CSR arise from the psychedelic medicine industry? There is a rich relationship between environmentalism and the psychedelic school of thought, as seen in the works of psychedelic ethnobotanist and mycologist Dennis McKenna via the McKenna Academy. Perhaps environmental justice will be at the forefront of psychedelic CSR. Then again, psychedelic companies may choose to simply allocate a portion of their profits towards decriminalization efforts, disaster relief campaigns around the world, or feeding the hungry.

You can catch leading experts like Dennis McKenna at our upcoming event, The Mushroom Conference: A Molecular Masterclass on Nov 20-22nd. Read this short blog to capture event highlights and click here to get your tickets today!

havn life psychedelic education

Moving Ethically & Academically Towards Revolution

The possibilities for psychedelic CSR initiatives are endless, as long as we chose to pursue these conversations. A foundation of ethics is needed to keep this industry separate from others, and more importantly, keep this industry in the realm of helping others. For more information on the type of ethics psychedelic companies might prioritize, I encourage readers to check out North Star.

Psychedelic medicine has the power to alleviate clinical mental health crises, and it’s biggest ally in this regard is academia! Academia allows these companies to obtain data that is politically and commercially free of influence. It is where psychedelic therapy originated pre-prohibition, and it is where psychedelics have returned. It is my hope, then, that companies take on educator roles and work closely with academia. This route will keep the psychedelic medicine revolution on track for optimal impact. Psychedelic medicine will never be “business as usual” if we move forward ethically and academically, and Havn Life is doing just that. 

havn life psychedelic education

Ali Shana

Ali Shana

Ali Shana is a Palestinian-American writer and grad student studying clinical mental health counseling. He tends to report on a variety of drug-related topics, such as policy reform, psychopharmacology, and medication-assisted therapies.