Psychedelics Versus Cannabis: Exploring the Global Supply Chain

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When it comes to the global supply chain for the emerging cannabis and psychedelics industries, establishing a steady stream of high quality products is crucial. There are several interesting parallels between the cannabis industry and psychedelics when it comes to establishing their global supply chain. As the demand for plant medicines and alternative modalities of healing increases across the world, the need for reproducible and reliable methods of production will be incredibly important to supply chain success. Furthemore, global pandemics, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, has had a serious impact on the global plant medicine supply chain as well. This piece will explore contrasts and similarities between the cannabis and psychedelic industries, with a particular focus on the impact technological advancements are having on the global supply chain between the two industries. 

psychedelic cannabis global supply chain

The Demand for Cannabis is Skyrocketing as More Amateur Growers Enter the Space

Both the cannabis and psychedelic industries are growing at an exponential rate, with the demand for consistent, high quality products skyrocketing. In the direct to consumer world of cannabis, connoisseurs are constantly rating the hottest strains. While the demand for cannabis is more consumer focused and less research oriented, the medicinal benefits of cannabis and its immense recreational value is fueling the industry. Indeed, the Weekend Gardener has already rated the best strains of 2020 that yield the highest grows. With dozens of states having legalized cannabis for medicinal and recreational use, more amateur growers are joining the emerging industry and impacting the global cannabis supply chain. 

psychedelic cannabis global supply chain

The Psychedelic Industry is Booming With High Demand for GMP Products 

Similarly, the demand for GMP psychedelics for research is greater than ever before. As the influx of groundbreaking research demonstrates the incredible potential of psychedelics to radically treat mental illness, the need for scaling their production is critical. Leading academic institutions such as Johns Hopkins, the Imperial College London and NYU have produced incredible results from research into compounds like psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. Despite the fact drugs like psilocybin are still largely illegal, the rapid increase in psychedelic driven research is boosting their demand. Currently, there is increasing demand for both synthetic and natural, plant-based psilocybin. Companies such as Psygen Labs and Havn Life are positioned to fill the growing psilocybin supply chain gap.

psychedelic cannabis global supply chain

Concerns Around Cannabis Cultivation Forecast the Future of Psychedelics

The first stage of the cannabis supply chain involves cultivation and extraction and are considered the “plant-touching” stages, where growers work directly with cannabis plants. Since this stage in the cannabis supply chain is currently the most saturated (everybody wants to be growers and produce the next famous strain), it is where the new businessperson will compete with massive farms and backyard grow operations. The ability to scale production of high quality cannabis here is critical.

 

“Quality and scale both matter in the U.S. cannabis industry, where margins can be slim and compliance means elaborate and expensive operational systems. Many businesses scramble to balance scale, expenses, compliance, etc. Because they struggle to streamline, so much operational data falls through the cracks, causing even more operational expenses, whether it’s in man-hours or lost product.” explains Amna Shamim, Chief Growth Officer at Parsl, an international cannabis supply chain technology company.

 

As expensive indoor grows shift to outdoor productions to reduce operational costs, experts predict that future cultivation may in fact be outsourced to countries with cheaper labor, easier regulations, and with weather more suited for cannabis growth. Such a shift in cannabis cultivation has a global impact on the supply chain and increases the diversity of the players involved. How does this growth and diversity impact the supply chain of psychedelics? The burgeoning mushroom industry is a great place to start this conversation.

psychedelic cannabis global supply chain

Psilocybin Production is Shaping the Future of the Psychedelic Supply Chain 

The production of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, speaks volumes about the psychedelic supply chain. The incredible demand for both synthetic and natural psilocybin has resulted in innovative approaches to scale production. Similar to companies who are cultivating cannabis in other parts of the world, psychedelic pioneers like the Wake Network are cultivating a variety of psychedelic mushrooms in Jamaica. Companies like Shroom Bloom are actively using dynamic advancements in biotechnology to scale psilocybin production. Since the primary use of psychedelic mushrooms are research based at the moment, GMP production is crucial. GMP stands for “Good Manufacturing Practices” and involves strict regulations and manufacturing practices so the final product is approved to be used in clinical trials and research practices. 

psychedelic cannabis global supply chain

Plant-Based Psilocybin & Synthetic Psilocybin Are Both in High Demand

Currently, there is demand for both natural, plant based psilocybin as well as GMP synthetic psilocybin for research. Psygen is another company that is dynamically shaping this sector by utilizing cutting-edge technologies to expand yield and scale the production of both GMP and non-GMP grade synthetic psilocybin. Their experienced team has applied to Health Canada for a corporate Dealer’s License, which will allow them to manufacture, possess, sell, import, export and analyze psychedelic substances. The company is actively developing and constructing their 6000sq/ft lab to be completed in June. This lab is capable of large-scale synthesis, formulation and distribution of GMP synthetic psilocybin, LSD, DMT, MDMA, mescaline, ibogaine and more. Due to high demand, Psygen is currently sold out of psilocybin and intends to complete a 1kg batch this summer.

Nadia Van der Heyden, Psygen’s Director of Sales and Marketing states, “I’ve initiated the pre-sale for this 1kg batch and already have 50% sold before manufacturing has even begun. We will be scaling up production quickly and we will be able to meet the demands of researchers around the world”

Innovative companies like Havn Life are aiming to fill the psilocybin supply chain gap from the ground up. As the race to produce magic mushrooms continues, the demand forecasts the inevitable need to produce other psychedelics such as LSD, DMT and MDMA at scale as well. 

All the companies highlighted in this blog have presented at our monthly psychedelic due diligence conference, Psychedelic Capital. You can get free tickets here to learn more about these dynamic organizations at the forefront of psychedelic medicine here!

psychedelic cannabis global supply chain

The Future of the Cannabis & Psychedelic Supply Chain is Rooted in Technology

As the psychedelic renaissance amples forth and the plant medicine revolution rapidly integrates cannabis back into mainstream society, the impact of technology cannot be understated. Both cannabis and psychedelics require technological innovation and ingenuity to take the industry and production to the next level. Regulations and global policy shifts are sure to radically impact these rapidly evolving industries. When it comes to psychedelic medicine, the need for establishing strict quality and safety standards is critical. The same can definitely be said for cannabis, however, the lack of strict oversight that governs approved medicines is certainly a major difference between the industries. In the end, technological advancements to enhance production quality and scalability will be valuable for both industries. Entering the cannabis supply chain is certainly much easier for the average person, whereas, these individuals may be better off being retail investors in the psychedelic medicine movement. While there are certainly major players in both spaces, there is currently still ample opportunity for both industries to excel and dominate in the space. 

Gaurav Dubey

Gaurav Dubey

Gaurav Dubey is a dynamic clinical biologist, evidence-based branding professional and entrepreneur with a passion for scientific writing and traveling the world. He earned a dual bachelor’s degree in biology and philosophy from the University of Miami in 2011 and his Master’s in Biotechnology from Rush University Medical Center in 2015. Gaurav was recently published as lead author in the world's leading transplant journal, The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation, for a study investigating second-time lung re-transplantation. He is passionate about psychedelic medicine and recently accepted a position as content editor at Microdose, an opportunity he is very excited about. He is also the Founder & President of Karmik, LLC, an evidence-based branding firm for extraordinary life science brands.