There has been a surge of interest in psychedelics, with certain drugs losing their social stigma as legislation is eased in parts of the world and evidence grows that they are safe and efficacious when consumed in controlled settings. Ketamine is already legally available in clinics across America and Europe and psilocybin (magic mushrooms) is available legally in Amsterdam and will become legal in Oregon in the US next year. Microdosing is generally seen as more acceptable, and refers to ingesting small amounts of psychedelic drugs to combat mental health issues and enhance creativity, productivity and physical wellbeing. A company called MUD\WTR has been encouraging employees to microdose psychedelics at work as a means of improving employees’ moods and performances. Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, openly talked about using LSD in his younger years to spark his imagination. Silicon Valley has been reportedly using microdosing as a productivity hack.
Why is it important?
We are in the midst of a mental health crisis, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. As many as one in six South Africans suffer from anxiety, depression or substance-abuse problems, according to statistics released by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG). Psychedelics offer a form of mental health treatment where other treatments have fallen short. Aside from the treatment of depression and anxiety, studies show numerous health benefits as well as increased focus and productivity. These are benefits that may appeal to many if such substances are legalised and there’s further evidence of their safety.
What can businesses do about it?
The psychedelic drugs market is projected to reach $10.75 billion by 2027 so there are plenty of opportunities in this industry. As far as work routines go, it is difficult for employers to ascertain whether their employees are consuming psychedelics. “Employers don’t monitor how many cups of coffee you’ve had or whether you’ve taken your pharmaceutical medication that day – microdosing is no different,” says Nicholas Levich, co-founder of Denver-based Psychedelic Passage. However, it is important to have a policy in place for when an employee is found to be microdosing at work. The CEO of a Silicon Valley-based startup was fired for taking LSD at work. Psychedelics are currently illegal in South Africa, but proponents such as lobbyists and medical practitioners predict that the law will be relaxed over time. It’s possible these substances will follow the same trajectory as cannabis and become more commonplace.
By Faeeza Khan
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Image credit: National Cancer Institute