On September 20th, David Bronner, of Dr. Bronner’s ALL ONE soap makers announced that the company would be donating $150,000 in matching funds to psychedelic research. The money will go to the Oregon Psilocybin Service Initiative, an organization run by psychotherapists petitioning to legalize the use of psilocybin — the drug in magic mushrooms — for therapy in Oregon. The initiative is intended not just to legalize the use of psilocybin, but also to ensure that the substance is used safely by trained practitioners and made available to individuals who can benefit from psychedelic-centered therapies.
A hundred and fifty thousand isn’t a lot of money when it comes to scientific research, but this donation, and the public statement made by Bronner on the brand's site shows that big companies aren’t just interested in psychedelic research, they’re willing to invest in it. The fact that the money will go to Oregon is particularly important because they seem to be very close to legalizing shrooms there, and it'd be the first state to do so.
The pledge reflects humanity of the company and also underscores a critique of Big Pharma that is common amongst the politically progressive left but rare in public capitalist discourse.
“My family is no stranger to severe depression and anxiety,” Bronner said in his statement. “We understand the pain and frustration of many Americans for whom current treatments do not work — for whom pharma drugs provide too little relief and too many undesirable side effects. We yearn for better solutions, and we firmly believe in the integration of psilocybin therapy.”
In case you haven’t been immersed in the headlines, psilocybin has increasingly garnered attention, of the last few years, for its potential in the treatment of a variety of mental illnesses, including depression. And this isn't the brand's first foray into supporting the legalization of psychedelics that have therapeutic potential.
Dr. Bronner’s is known for its new age evangelism — David Bronner’s official title is CEO: Cosmic Engagement Officer — but psilocybin therapy isn’t half-baked hippie science. Earlier this year, Johns Hopkins established a new center, MAPS, specifically to study the therapeutic use of psychedelics.
As Bronner astutely noted in his statement, legalizing psilocybin for therapeutic purposes in Oregon (and elsewhere) isn’t a squinty counter cultural protest. It’s a real move by a company with cout to change the medical culture at large. Or as Bronner said, “This is indeed a strategic, tightly-regulated, and well-timed model to introduce responsible adult access to psilocybin therapy outside the pharma medical system into the culture.”