At a virtual investment conference last week called Psychedelic Capital, the moderator of a session on ethical intellectual property opened the panel by asking, “To patent or not patent? That is the question.”
That certainly is the question that’s been hotly debated lately in the psychedelic community through open letters, blog posts, and Youtube videos. And it’s a discussion that’s not going anywhere soon, as the explosion of for-profit psychedelic companies and patent applications raises concerns about ethical and legitimate ways to bring psychedelic drugs and therapy to the masses.
The alarm around patents was first sounded, in part, in response to patent applications from mental health company Compass Pathways. Its international patent applications include claims for rudimentary aspects of psilocybin psychotherapy and broad claims for treating a litany of conditions unrelated to mental health. It currently also has three granted patents regarding its synthetic formulation of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms—patents which have been, and will likely continue to be, controversial.