I arrived in Miami last Wednesday, ready for a few days of bright colors, passionate conversations, and mind-manifesting ideas. Psychedelic Week was in full swing, and I had a busy schedule consisting of panels, parties, and of course, the Wonderland Miami Conference.
My goal for the week was simple: To gain new insights into the industry that would both expand the big picture I hold of the industry and bring to light minute aspects that inform its development. The industry insights that I gained from the Wonderland Conference and coinciding events were unexpected and a bit underwhelming, but still interesting.
Miami Psychedelic Week brought together a diverse collection of psychedelic enthusiasts. First and foremost, I have to say that Miami is an odd hub for psychedelics. I suppose that its culture of health, vibrant color, and fervent celebration gives Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas vibes, though I am not sure the late Dr. Thompson would approve of a ‘psychedelic’ gathering so calculated and free of psychedelic stupor. He would— I strongly believe— be interested in calling to attention the strangeness and absurdity of a business-oriented psychedelic gathering. However, those business minds seemed to have the most interesting perspectives on this burgeoning industry.
The Wonderland Conference, and other events that took place last week, displayed the intersections between the different corners of the psychedelic movement. This was a place where suits and stilettos landed next to flip-flops and white linen shirts. Not to mention, a disturbing number of people walking around Miami barefoot.
Though the conference wasn’t bursting with the energy, excitement, and content that I was hoping for, there were many lessons to be learned. The lesson created the lens which I am looking at the conference through came from a panel titled “Psychedelic Media Changing Perception,” which took place Wednesday night at the Soho Beach house.
The message voiced by Angelique Green— Founder and CEO of The Mighty Shed— was this: “You look at the Silicon Valley Culture, and the motto is move fast and break things. People moving into the space with that mindset are going to get us into trouble. We need to move slowly and heal things.” Having lived through the tech boom in Northern California, I am well acquainted with the intense fervor of the mindset she refers to. While this mindset was the driving force when the modern psychedelic industry began to take form just a few years ago, the industry seems to be shifting its strategy.
This sentiment was reiterated by Jeremy Gardner of Mystic Ventures, saying, “We don’t need disruption.” The inception of the psychedelic industry was fueled by this ‘Silicon Valley disruption mindset.’ There is a dire need for better mental health solutions, and psychedelics were deemed the treatment that would change it all (by some people). However, people are starting to realize that when it comes to healthcare, that isn’t a sustainable path to take, especially with psychedelics. Between the negative history and lack of comprehensive scientific understanding of psychedelics, there is room for a lot of error.
Over the past year, we have seen this disruptive style of industry development calm down significantly, and it was evident at this year’s Wonderland conference. The psychedelic movement is beginning to take a more calculated approach to health and wellness, which is more sustainable for the long-term outcomes of the industry.
While some people in the industry have only come to this conclusion recently, in part because of the struggles facing psychedelic businesses as a result of the poor market conditions, others have taken this approach from the beginning.
In an interview with Psychedelic Invest earlier this year, the CEO of Red Light Holland, Todd Shapiro, said, “We’re seeing a lot of emerging markets opening up. But it’s tricky. And I’ve told our shareholders this in the past— we don’t wanna predict the markets before they come.” It is a belief that I have held in high regard because when we look at the psychedelic industry, especially this year, companies that jumped the gun and entered into the market purely riding the hype are now struggling to make ends meet.
I asked Angelique Green about this idea. Her company, The Mighty Shed, is dedicated to identifying opportunities and creating strategies for businesses. In listening to her assessment of the industry, I realized the problem isn’t the lack of a tangible market to operate in, but rather an inability, or perhaps unwillingness, to properly assess the direction in which an industry is moving. Furthermore, she spoke about the importance of assessing future market conditions based on current consumer needs. That led me to the question— what are the consumer needs that this industry is addressing, and how does Wonderland Miami represent them? I came up with two answers.
The first answer comes from the conference’s focus on Wellness and longevity. This year, the psychedelic conference was equally focused on the market and the science of longevity.
Maxximilaun Fried gave a fascinating talk on the intersection of longevity and psychedelics, explaining how psychedelics can improve health by altering personality traits and making people feel younger. He said, “People who feel older than they are, we’ve found, have more rapid physical decline and also cognitive impairments.” If simply feeling older than you are can cause a decline in physical health, then tools like psychedelics that can drastically affect perspective have huge potential in the general health and longevity market. This brings to attention the focus on wellness that is deeply ingrained in the psychedelic industry.
Booths on the floor of the Conferences sported an array of holistic wellness drinks and supplements. This is nothing new to the psychedelic industry. Many psychedelic companies, even some biotech, have invested in wellness brands— acknowledging the huge market potential and crossover with psychedelic medicine.
Until the invention of new sci-fi horror technology that can transfer human consciousness into new bodies, the best path to longevity is through tools that improve mental and physical health. This, to answer my earlier question, is the consumer need that companies are targeting in the psychedelic and wellness markets.
Personalized medicine was also a topic that continued to come up throughout different talks during the conference. We plan to cover this topic in further detail in the upcoming weeks, so I won’t go into too much detail here. But, the basic premise is that the advent of new technology, specifically AI, will help develop a new form of healthcare that focuses on individual needs instead of simply treating a diagnosis.
The emergence of this personalized care was on display at Wonderland. A booth set up by Neuroflex, a neuromodulation program, was the perfect example of this. The program uses several technologies to assess waves in different parts of the brain and actively shift brain activity to combat issues such as anxiety, depression, and brain injuries.
This is just a small picture of Maimi Psychedelic Week, but the essence of all the events that took place can be summed up by this quote from Chad Olin, the founder of a brain-wave training program. He said: “There is a collective momentum happening of a desire to engage and to help speed things up and to help course correct and to make sure we’re moving in the right direction.” This is the most important takeaway from the conference. The shift of the psychedelic movement from a mission to break the old ways in order to create something entirely new to the desire to make thoughtful and intentional changes to build better solutions for health and wellness.