The Ethics of Funding Psychedelic Research

Right now, there is a debate occurring within the psychedelic community that is raising some interesting and important questions.  From whom is it appropriate to take money to fund psychedelic research? How do we fund research, yet remain open and ethical?

The statement on open science and open praxis was published on Chacruna earlier this year, and was signed by many leaders in the psychedelic community. It aims for the following:

1) We will strive for intellectual and scientific integrity.
2) We will work to serve the welfare of the individuals and communities involved.
3) We will not withhold, nor require others to withhold, materials or knowledge for commercial advantage.
4) We will strive to place our discoveries into the public domain, for the benefit of all.

MAPS signed this statement. They have also recently been criticised for taking money from The Mercer Family Foundation to help fund its research.
This foundation has ties to right-wing groups which may be seen as antithetical to the psychedelic communities ethos.
Is taking donations from this company against the statements described above?

COMPASS Pathways have also been criticised for their approach to funding research. COMPASS are now set to begin phase 2 clinical trials of psilocybin for depression. Compass is a for-profit company, and they have not signed the statement on open science and open praxis. Does this mean we should not be supporting this research?

Is it naive to think that psychedelic research can be performed without the backing of “big pharma”? The reality is, clinical trials are expensive and pharmaceutical companies can afford to pay for them. All they ask is that be able to make money in return. If we do not rely on pharmaceutical companies, how will expensive clinical trials get funded? Is this a compromise that need be taken to ensure these medicines make it to the general public quicker?

Listen to the criticisms on the psychedologist radio show with David Nickles, and in these articles written by David Nickles and Jae Sevelius on Chacruna.

Posted in News.