Fri | Oct 7, 2022

Mushroom firm exits Ja partnership

Published:Friday | July 1, 2022 | 12:06 AM

Cybin Inc, a magic mushroom company, has announced it will cease its lab trial investments in Jamaica.

It is the first exit by a well capitalised mushroom company, but follows the trend of other Canadian investors in the cannabis space since the onset of the pandemic. Other local magic mushroom companies have already established footholds in local weed houses.

Cybin said it had found more promising mushroom products elsewhere, containing other molecules that “appear to have more desirable characteristics” than traditional psilocybin.

Psilocybin is the natural chemical that makes certain mushrooms psychoactive.

“Due to the new deuterated psilocybin analog programme, the company no longer anticipates conducting any business activities in Jamaica. The company intends to complete future clinical trials in the US, Canada, UK and Europe,” stated Cybin in its recent filings of its quarterly financial results.

Cybin decided to bet on deuterated psilocybin in November 2021, announcing in that year it would spend CDN$750,000, which converts to about US$600,000, on trials in Jamaica at the University of the West Indies.

It followed from a July 2020 non-binding agreement between Cybin and the UWI’s Caribbean Institute for Health Research and also the Scientific Research Council of Jamaica. The agreement aimed to conduct research and development of psychedelic pharmaceutical products with the intention to register with the Ministry of Health in Jamaica, according to Cybin’s management discussions. To do this the trials were to test the optimum doses for certain effects, while determining the safety and efficacy of the drug.

“The results of such clinical trials are intended to be submitted to the appropriate Jamaican regulatory authorities in order to obtain marketing authorisation,” the report stated.

In other words, the research could have led to the development of a commercial line of products.

There was no immediate response from key UWI researchers on the implications to the exit.

Three other North American mushroom companies remain in the market: New Wave Holdings Limited, Ehave Inc and Field Trip Limited.

UWI also works with Field Trip, which in April 2020 announced plans to invest US$1.1 million to build a research facility for psychedelic mushrooms at the Mona campus in Kingston.

Cybin has asserted consistently in its market filings that “psilocybin mushrooms are not an illegal drug under Jamaica’s Dangerous Drugs Act, 1948”. A Cannabis Licensing Authority board member told the Financial Gleaner that the authority monitors the mushroom industry despite not being its direct regulator.

In 2021, Cybin raised gross funds of US$34 million when it listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The company, which is still in the development stages, has yet to book any revenue. It intends to start selling products over the next year or two.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com