The Lift & Co. Expo recently made its grand return to Toronto — only this time the event added a psychedelics business portion to its traditionally cannabis-focused lineup.
For the first time since the show took hold as the de facto premier Canadian industry conference for cannabis stakeholders, event organizers decided to include the newest darling of the investment market.
The Lift Business Summit was a full day event that took place November 19. The event consisted of a packed day revolving around the world of psychedelics and the future of the sector.
The business of psychedelics has grown by leaps and bounds on the promise of advanced novel drugs that use psychedelic compounds in a medicinal way to treat mental health disorders.
The potential for a drug market driven by psychedelics-centric medicine has opened the doors to a new world of enthusiastic capital looking to get in on the ground floor of what could end up being the treatments of tomorrow.
Sabrina Ramkellawan, chief operating officer with Knowde Group, told the Investing News Network (INN) it was great to finally see psychedelics represented at the Lift Expo.
“We’re right in the beginning or early stages of psychedelics, so it seems fitting,” said Ramkellawan, who spoke at a panel on Canadian psychedelics trailblazers. “I wasn’t even sure if this was happening. I was like, ‘Is this for real?’”
Experts outline common psychedelics themes at Lift Expo
The Lift Expo event included a few introductory panels showcasing the potential and promise attached to what could be on the horizon for the psychedelics market.
During a business panel, Steve Hawkins, president and CEO of Horizons ETFs Management (Canada), said Canada is a leader in terms of the financial support it’s shown to emerging industries like cannabis and psychedelics.
After sharing some of his cannabis investment takeaways, Hawkins said that from his perspective, 2020 offered a “fantastic” year for psychedelics investments, whereas 2021 has been more lackluster.
“Canada is a leader because of the regulation that allows the capital markets to invest in emerging companies,” Hawkins said. He added that he is encouraged by how many applications for psychedelic compounds are being studied, and how many may be looked at in the future.
The exchange-traded fund (ETF) executive said he expects to see a significant rush upwards for this emerging industry once there is a significant drug approval. “I don’t believe it’s a five to 10 year proposition,” Hawkins said.
The Lift Expo served as a strong reminder that experts believe the promise of this industry is attached to the possibility of big-name pharmaceutical companies introducing themselves to the market.
When asked by panel moderator Meris Kott, CEO and founder of Global Wellness Strategies, about who will come out on top in this industry, Stephen Murphy, co-founder and CEO of Prohibition Partners, said he would bet that large pharma stocks will take some of the most promising drug candidates all the way through approval.
Horizons ETFs launched the first psychedelics ETF, the Horizons Psychedelic Stock Index ETF (NEO:PSYK), earlier this year. At the time, Hawkins told INN volatility should be expected when it comes to psychedelics investments.
Throughout the day, more execs from public companies had a chance to speak. These included Ivan Casselman, chief psychedelics officer of Havn Life Sciences (CSE:HAVN,OTC Pink:HAVLF); Rob Tessarolo, CEO of NeonMind Biosciences (CSE:NEON,OTCQB:NMDBF); and Todd Shapiro, CEO of Red Light Holland (CSE:TRIP,OTC Pink:TRUFF).
Enthusiasm strong, but psychedelics need long-term timeline
Andrew Charrette, director of regulatory affairs and psychedelic advisor with KGK Science, told INN he is encouraged by the early data results from some psychedelic medicine studies.
However, market participants shouldn’t expect approvals for these drugs until 2023 or even 2024, he said.
“I think the responsible companies are going to move things forward,” added the expert, who spoke during the “How Businesses Can Assist Regulators & Lawmakers Establish Best Practices” panel.
According to Charrette, investors will very soon start to see a clear separation between the companies that are really intending to pursue a drug-development model with approvals in mind, and those that can’t really afford to.
“It’ll be difficult, and it’s going to be difficult for even the best companies as they’re still flying blind right now.”
Psychedelics has established an investment presence, and as the industry continues to grow thanks to the development of novel drugs, the Lift Expo’s attention represents another step of increased visibility.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: NeonMind Biosciences is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.
The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.