An In-Depth Exploration of The Emerging Field of Psychedelics: A Summary of One Keynote Presentation from the Cannabis Science Conference East 2022

In a keynote address for the psychedelics track at Cannabis Science Conference East 2022, Dr. Andrew Coop, Dr. Chad Johnson, and Dr. Leah Sera of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy presented “There’S Room for Everyone: The Emerging Field of Psychedelic Therapeutics.” The talk focused on the history of psychedelics, “classical” and “nonclassical” psychedelics, the current clinical research studies on psychedelics, and the announcement of a master’s program in the Cannabis Science and Therapeutics program at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. Here are some highlights from the session.

To kick off the psychedelics track on the first day of Cannabis Science Conference East, Dr. Andrew Coop, Dr. Chad Johnson, and Dr. Leah Sera gave an in-depth keynote address of psychedelic therapeutics. First, Dr. Coop explained “classical” psychedelics such as psilocybin, LSD, and mescaline, and explained their connection to neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. One of his key takeaways was to remember that every psychedelic will be different. In looking toward the future he announced the new Master’s program at the University of Maryland.

“What's the future hold and what's the science behind psychedelics? And the reason we said there's room for everyone was a bit of a pun, but that really gets into our philosophy of we want this diversity of individuals in the program so that we can professionalize with diversity of individuals in the field,” Dr. Coop explained in a recent interview with Cannabis Science and Technology.

Dr. Johnson gave an in-depth exploration of the properties of seven major “non-classical” psychedelics: MDMA, ketamine, PCP, salvinorin A, scopolamine, muscimol, and ibogaine.

“If there is one thing I'd like folks to take away from the talk is the fact that the mechanism of psychedelics is not all the same. Different ones work in different ways,” Dr. Chad Johnson explained in the same interview. “That's one thing that we'd like to communicate: different mechanisms of pharmacological action. How these things work. That's important to note, especially if in the future, these are going to be approved and actually used as therapy.”

Dr. Sera gave a brief overview of the history of the therapeutic use of psychedelics starting in the 19th century and continuing today. She explained four examples of current clinical research on the use of psychedelics in treating social anxiety disorder, alcohol and substance abuse, and unipolar and bipolar disorder. One of her key takeaways was a reminder that we are looking at these substances as medicine used to help patients rather than as recreational drugs. She also emphasized the importance of set and setting in psychedelic assisted therapy.

At the end of the hour-long session, the audience asked several questions on varying topics. One question was about the possibility of using the neurogenesis capabilities of psychedelics as a treatment for Alzheimer’s and dementia, another question was how to promote the benefits of psychedelics to increase their availability for treating mental health disorders, and one final question brought up a newly published study on how psychedelics decreased the rate of suicidal tendencies, a study which the panel and several audience members were greatly interested in.

For the full CST interview with Dr. Andrew Coop and Dr. Chad Johnson, please visit: https://www.cannabissciencetech.com/view/the-emerging-field-of-psychedelic-therapeutics