Biography/Memoir

A millionaire couple is threatening to create a magic mushroom monopoly

Many of those psilocybin experts now regret having helped the couple [behind Compass Pathways] … Quartz spoke with 9 psilocybin experts who advised Goldsmith and Malievskaia, but today express concerns about the company’s motives and aims … a company that both gains regulatory approval in North America and Europe for medical use of lab-synthesized version of psilocybin and controls the necessary intellectual property could have the power to determine both the costs of and treatment methods for medical-grade synthetic magic mushrooms … if the company does put shareholder interests above patient well-being, the drug could end up more expensive for patients than it needs to be.

1. Neither Peter Thiel nor Mike Novogratz (major funders) responded to requests for comment. (Goldsmith and Malievskaia received tens of millions in dollars from investors including Silicon Valley libertarian Peter Thiel and former Wall Street-executive-turned-cryptocurrency-investor Mike Novogratz, along with the expertise and guidance of many long-standing psilocybin researchers. )

2. A Compass company spokesperson says both Malievskaia and Goldsmith were unavailable to talk concerning the allegations in this article. (Having first registered as a charity, Goldsmith and Malievskaia set up a for-profit corporation working towards the same ends just one year later, and closed their non-profit less than two years after that.)

3. Neither he [Goldsmith] nor Tapestry Networks responded to requests for comment about the legitimacy of Tapestry Networks’ meetings. (An April 2014 Harvard Business School case study on the company notes that “Tapestry [which involved Goldsmith] faced lingering questions about the…legitimacy [of all meetings the company set up] and whether they facilitated greater ‘coziness’ between regulators and the regulated.”)

4. Compass did not respond to a request for comment about the nature of this intellectual property(The charity owned intellectual property during this time, which Goldsmith and Malievskaia later transferred to personal ownership.)

5. Compass, Goldsmith, and Malievskaia did not respond to requests for comment about these trips [to the Isle of Man.] (The trips to the Isle of Man were pitched to these experts as a chance to visit the hospice where [the original non-profit] C.O.M.P.A.S.S. planned to set up trials of a psilocybin-treatment program for end-of-life anxiety.)

6. Compass did not respond to requests for comment about this exchange. (Malievskaia confirmed it. Katherine MacLean was out. In January 2016, MacLean discovered that what she believed to have been a close relationship with Goldsmith and Malievskaia was over as suddenly as it had begun. MacLean emailed the couple to ask if she could mention her discussions with C.O.M.P.A.S.S. in her upcoming Tedx Talk, and Malievskaia replied that she could not.)

7. Compass did not respond to specific questions about their spending.(The 990 tax forms are not detailed enough to conclusively show any abuse occurred, but both law professors say the tax documents certainly show signs of behavior that is questionable for a nonprofit, and warrant explanation from Compass or else investigation from the California attorney general. These experts say it is especially concerning that C.O.M.P.A.S.S. continued to spend the charity’s money after Malievskaia and Goldsmith had established their for-profit venture, raising doubts about whether the costs were truly in the interests of the charity, rather than the for-profit business.)

8. Compass did not address multiple requests for comment about specific allegations in this article, including questions about their charity’s intangible assets and spending. (The 990s also suggest that C.O.M.P.A.S.S. used its nonprofit status to obtain intellectual property that would later become Goldsmith and Malievskaia’s. In 2015, C.O.M.P.A.S.S. claimed $217,671 worth of “intangible assets” on its tax forms.)

9. In a statement to Quartz, Compass says its exclusive [synthetic psilocybin] manufacturing contract with Onyx is the best way… (Several psilocybin academics and psychologists, who were not party to Compass’s exclusivity contract, cited the deal as a sign that it could potentially try to control the global supply of legal psilocybin.)

10. Compass did not respond to requests for comment about the value of therapists’ experience with psilocybin. (“It’s such a weird experience and if [patients] realize that the therapist hasn’t gone through it themself, how can they trust them in saying that, ‘everything will be fine?’” says one researcher who attended the Tyringham Hall meetings. This researcher compared a therapist with no experience of psilocybin conducting psychedelic therapy to a scuba-diving instructor who’s never been scuba diving and is “on the phone talking with the people under the water who are learning it.”)  

11. Compass did not respond to questions about the conference. (Many people raised these concerns at the Tyringham Hall conference.  Indeed, Doblin and other psilocybin experts say it’s standard practice in all psychedelics research (which includes psilocybin, MDMA, and LSD), for therapists to have experience with the drug they’ve given to patients.​)

12. Compass did not respond to questions about the MAPS board meeting. (“I understand it’s a difficult question, but I think people in pharmaceutical delivery especially have a special duty to deeply consider the implications of being forced to maximize profit for shareholders,” says Natalie Ginsberg of MAPS.)

13.Compass, Goldsmith, and Malievskaia did not respond to requests for comment on any of these three incidents, or to questions about their attitude to criticism generally. (MAPS employees say they felt uncomfortable that Compass was monitoring their social media activity and reporting back to their boss.)

14Compass did not respond to questions about its therapist training.(Several of these experts told Quartz that they were concerned that Compass’s trial was designed to be fast, large, and inexpensive, and that it could create risky situations for patients. Several psilocybin experts Quartz spoke with say two days is not enough in-person training time. According to Compass’s website, participants must be referred by their doctor or psychiatrist.)

15. Compass has not signed.​ (Concerns within the psychedelic community are strong enough that Bob Jesse, founder of the Council on Spiritual Practices and a Usona board member, created a “Statement on Open Science and Open Praxis with Psilocybin, MDMA, and Similar Substances,” in December 2017. “From generations of practitioners and researchers before us, we have received knowledge about these substances, their risks, and ways to use them constructively,” reads the statement. “In turn, we accept the call to use that knowledge for the common good and to share freely whatever related knowledge we may discover or develop.” It has been signed by 104 individual scientists, scholars, and practitioners, 21 research and service organizations, including MAPS, Heffter, Usona, [Edelic (ECfES.org)], and 12 psychedelic societies and integration circles.)

Original Article (Quartz):
A millionaire couple is threatening to create a magic mushroom monopoly
Artwork Fair Use: Public Domain & Arman Militosyan

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