The renaissance in psychedelics is giving rise to swathes of new startups in the travel, wellness and health space.
Psychedelics have been used for healing, ritual and spirituality for thousands of years by Indigenous populations. Western interest has only emerged in the last 70 years or so, and use was rapidly criminalised, pushing a number of traditional plants to the fringes of society. Decriminalisation of natural compounds, such as the mushroom-extract psilocybin, combined with a renewed respect for Indigenous wisdoms and a growing acceptance in mainstream culture around alternative healing practices has meant that consumer and business interest in psychedelics has naturally increased.
The wellness industry continues to flourish, with both physical and mental wellness likely to remain foremost in consumers’ lives post-pandemic. As psychedelics enter the mainstream, what are we seeing? Psychedelic retreats are garnering interest from a young consumer set, particularly as people seek to rebalance after the stresses of two years of lockdowns. Jamaica and the Netherlands are, unsurprisingly, primary destinations due to their liberal laws surrounding psychoactive substances, but new experiences are also popping up in Canada, Mexico and the US. These experiences adopt holistic approaches to healing, balancing psychedelic experiences with traditional wellness experiences, such as yoga therapy.
Synthesis is an Amsterdam-based psychedelic retreat that uses legal psilocybin truffles to guide guests on three- or five-day trips. The company collaborates with Imperial College in London to provide results from guests in order to advance scientific knowledge on the healing potential of psychedelics, while DoubleBlind magazine offers online courses showing would-be mycologists how to cultivate their own mushrooms at home. In November 2020, Canada’s Better Plant Sciences announced plans to commercially launch medicinal mushroom coffees under the label Neon Mind via a new e-commerce site.
Following the legalisation of drugs in Oregon in November 2020, Field Trip Health announced its plans to build psilocybin-led therapy clinics in the state, while Silo Wellness launched a ketamine-assisted wellness retreat in the region in addition to its existing psilocybin retreats in Jamaica.
As the value of these once-illicit drugs become more understood, their reputations will shift with many consumers. We’ve witnessed how the cannabis industry has exploded, with cannabis-infused products used to treat everything from chronic pain to anxiety and insomnia, with some advocates claiming the drug's efficacy in treating patients suffering from seizures, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's disease. Cannabinoid derivatives such as CBD can now be found in everything from seltzers through to lip balm in grocery stores around the globe.
Spending on legal cannabis is expected to reach $63.5bn worldwide by 2024. Brands across the board should note there is huge scope to monetise this trend, especially when adding a dash of luxury to the mix. Weed-infused experiences with a premium edge, for example, could entice consumers who are usually less enthused by the drug, expanding the market’s potential. Expect the cannabis tourism industry to continue to thrive and reach wider global territories, including the UK. According to recent polls, 82% of Britons support legalising medical marijuana and 51% support full legalisation.
In the future, taking a trip just might broaden the mind in more ways than one. For more on psychedelics, check out our WGSN Insight Psychedelics: The New Wave report.