Healthcare Business

Time to Buy the Magic Stocks? Magic Mushrooms, That Is.

The first state to legalize cannabis for medical use was California, in 1996. In 2001, medical marijuana was approved in Canada. A couple of publicly traded (in Canada) companies were in the business as early as 2013, five years before Canada legalized cannabis for recreational use. The United States still has a federal law banning marijuana possession, use or sale.

A similar situation may be developing in psychedelics. At least six publicly traded (in the United States) firms are developing products based on psilocybin, aka magic mushrooms, and other psychedelic drugs. Here’s a quick look at these firms.

The largest is Atai Life Sciences N.V. (NASDAQ: ATAI), a Germany-based firm, that came public in mid-June at an initial public offering price of $15 a share and reached a high of nearly $23. Things have been downhill ever since. At Tuesday’s close, Atai’s market cap was around $2.6 billion.

The company is testing medicinal uses of hallucinogenic drugs, including psilocybin, MDMA (Ecstasy) and ketamine (Special K) to treat psychiatric disorders and other mental issues, such as schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disease (PTSD).

Atai also owns a 19.7% stake in Compass Pathways PLC (NASDAQ: CMPS), a London-based developer of a drug therapy using a synthetic form of psilocybin called COMP360. The drug is designed to be used in conjunction with specially trained therapists.

Compass Pathways came public in September of last year in an IPO priced at $17 a share. The stock spiked to a high of near $59 in mid-December, but shares have trailed down since then. Compass has a market cap of about $1.4 billion.

Mind Medicine (MindMed) Inc. (NASDAQ: MNMD), is a clinical-stage biotech firm investigating the use of psychedelics like psilocybin, LSD, MDMA and dimethyltryptamine (DMT) to treat addiction and mental illness. The company was listed in Canada in March of 2020 and uplisted on the Nasdaq in November. That move lit a fire under the stock, lifting it out of the OTC market, where shares traded for around $0.40, to a high of $5.77 before beginning a downward slide in June.

The company had some high-profile investors like ABC’s Kevin O’Leary and former Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton. At Tuesday’s close, the company’s market cap was $990 million.

Cybin Inc. (NYSEAMERICAN: CYBN) is a Canadian firm developing psychedelic therapeutics using its own proprietary discovery platforms, innovative delivery systems, novel formulations and “potential treatment regimens for psychiatric disorders.” In addition to psilocybin treatments, the company is also evaluating tryptamine and certain of its derivatives along with other “psychedelic compounds or nutraceuticals [to] diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition.”

The company came public in Canada last November and moved up from the U.S. OTC market in August. At Tuesday’s close, Cybin’s market cap was about $390 million.

Field Trip Health Ltd. (NASDAQ: FTRP) is another Canada-based company that offers a psychedelic-assisted therapy program that integrates psychedelic medicine with psychotherapy to treat conditions such as PTSD. The company’s program uses ketamine as its therapeutic.

Field Trip’s market cap is about $304 million, and the share price has slipped since its late-July debut on the Nasdaq.

Enveric Biosciences Inc. (NASDAQ: ENVB) came public in a SPAC merger that was completed in December. The biotech company is developing novel cannabinoid medicines to treat the side effects of cancer treatments. It recently completed its acquisition of MagicMed, a company “creating a library of novel derivative psychedelic molecules such as psilocybin, … DMT and other molecular derivatives” to treat central nervous system disorders, including PTSD.

The share price spiked on the day the SPAC deal closed but has struggled ever since. The company’s market cap at Tuesday’s close was around $64 million.

The U.S. Air Force and Army have been supporting a different approach to PTSD. Defense One reported last week that the Army has granted $145,000 to Neurovation Labs, a New York-based startup. The company has identified a biomarker called GluA1 that is unique to PTSD. The company is currently working on a procedure to diagnose the presence of the biomarker. Neurovation Labs also says it is “now developing a non-invasive oral treatment for PTSD. Unlike existing PTSD treatments, which typically temporarily suppress symptoms, we target the biological cause of PTSD—an up-regulation of a receptor protein in the region of the brain responsible for fear learning.”