As the CEO of Journey Colab, I would like to address questions and concerns regarding our reciprocity and consultation efforts, including what was done, who was involved and why.
We are dedicated to listening and addressing any concerns and are currently in open dialog with members of the community. We took first steps unique to the psychedelic space - the Journey Reciprocity Trust, Patent Pledge and White Paper on Consultation. But first steps aren’t perfect. We learn through honest feedback from communities we aim to serve.
Additionally, our commitment to transparency means that we are always accessible and open to communication. Please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com.
I think it’s important to prioritize Indigenous perspectives, so I suggest reading our white paper on our website, which was written by Sutton King while she was serving as Impact Advisor to Journey Colab, as well as her personal statement. I will summarize the key points in a Q&A format and then discuss our plans moving forward.
Is Journey Colab working in any way with peyote (Lophophora williamsii)?
No, we’re not, and we never have and never will.
Specifically, Journey Colab is not deriving, extracting, or synthesizing mescaline from any biological source—not from peyote, and not from any other plant or other naturally occurring source of mescaline. We are developing a completely synthetic version of mescaline in a lab. Our synthetic process does not use any naturally occurring sources of mescaline.
We fully and wholeheartedly agree with the position of the Council of Peyote Way of Life Coalition in opposing “any extraction and synthesis of mescaline from peyote, and any cultivation, tincture, or manufacturing for scientific purposes (research), or for any other reasons outside of a traditional bona fide ceremonial setting or purposes.”
Further, we support the stewardship of traditional plants and lands by Indigenous communities. I’ll close with how our approach to reciprocity is a potential path to support Indigenous stewardship.
Is Journey Colab trying to patent peyote and the traditions around its use?
Our patents are directed to the use of synthetic mescaline in a clinical setting, meaning for the treatment of psychiatric conditions, substance use disorders, and other illnesses. The FDA process is costly and our patents are a practical means to raise private capital to fund clinical trials.
Further, we are the only group to develop a legally binding, irrevocable patent pledge, committing to never assert our patents on mescaline against the non-commercial use of naturally-derived mescaline and mescaline-containing plants, or on ceremonial and traditional practices, including and in particular Indigenous practices involving mescaline-containing plant medicines.
Who did Journey consult with?
Our consultation process was designed as a small focus group with Indigenous voices, following best practices of community-based participatory research (“CBPR”) guaranteeing anonymity and confidentiality to participants.
This focus group took place in early 2021 after the launch of the company and development of the Journey Reciprocity Trust (“Reciprocity Trust”)—which I will explain more about later. The purpose of this focus group was to obtain feedback on the company’s approach to access and benefit sharing through the Reciprocity Trust.
Did Journey Colab obtain consent from Indigenous peyote communities?
No. Our consultation process was not, nor was it meant to be, a consent process for the development of our completely synthetic version of mescaline. I discuss my view on the need for consent below.
Did Journey Colab consult with the Native American Church or Tribal entities?
No, we did not, and let me explain why.
Early in our consultation process on benefit sharing from the Reciprocity Trust, our focus groups asked us to pause consultation with them, and we honored that request. There was a clear message from community that further consultation without tangible benefit to share with community was not welcome, and because the Reciprocity Trust held equity, not cash, community did not want to engage further at that time. We therefore determined to continue consultation regarding benefit sharing through the Reciprocity Trust once the Trust had liquid assets to share with community.
On consent, acknowledgment, and reciprocity.
When it comes to the direct use of sacred plants or other natural resources, lands, and traditions of Indigenous peoples, I agree that obtaining consent is not only appropriate but indeed a moral imperative. That includes directly consuming Indigenous resources, participating in a retreat at a center operating in a jurisdiction enabled by Indigenous rights, or taking part in a ceremony that is of a traditional lineage.
On the other hand, when it comes to the clinical development of a completely synthetic version of mescaline that does not directly utilize any Indigenous resources, I believe it is a question of reciprocity.
I also believe reciprocity is a question for ALL of us in the psychedelic community. Because if you have used any psychedelic personally or they are in any part of your professional career, we all owe our relationship to these medicines to Indigenous communities, who have stewarded this knowledge for generations.
Our approach to reciprocity was to create the Journey Reciprocity Trust. The Reciprocity Trust holds ten percent of the company’s founding equity for the future benefit of Indigenous communities that have stewarded these medicines, as well as other community stakeholders, including groups working to ensure equitable access to mental health treatment and those working to benefit the ecological conservation of naturally-occurring plant medicines. Because Journey is still a privately held company, the shares in the Trust cannot be traded on a stock exchange and are generally not marketable. For that reason, the Trust will hold the equity in trust until the independent Trust Stewardship Committee (which will be comprised primarily of representatives of Indigenous descent) determines how and when to deploy the equity for the maximum benefit of these stakeholders—e.g. if Journey has a successful IPO or if there is another liquidity opportunity in the future (more on future plans in the next section). No cash has been placed in or disbursed from the Trust to date.
The Reciprocity Trust is one approach to reciprocity, and while I am proud of our industry-leading approach, I admit it is not perfect. Still, our Reciprocity Trust is a concrete and actionable means to share the benefits of psychedelic drug development with Indigenous communities. My hope is the debate around our approach sets the bar for all psychedelic businesses to do their part to engage in reciprocity with Indigenous communities.
What happens next?
In addition to advancing our synthetic mescaline drug development program, we believe psychedelics need safe spaces and trained specialists to be effective.
We recently launched our first Center of Excellence, a center for safe and high-quality psychedelic research and care, in partnership with a substance use treatment center. While the majority of treatment centers in the U.S. are not yet ready for psychedelic treatments, we believe the centers we’re identifying to partner with can and will serve a vital role in providing the safe spaces and trained staff to ensure the safe delivery of these treatments.
As we prove and scale this model, we will be pursuing additional funding and we are exploring options for the Reciprocity Trust to sell a portion of its equity assets as part of that financing if the Trust Stewardship Committee determines that will best serve the purposes of the Trust. It is clear that Indigenous communities and their organizations should be in stewardship of plant, land, and cultural resources. That stewardship requires cash to purchase land and thus far government and private funding is woefully small, and if the Trust Stewardship Committee determines that cash is needed now, we would like to support that effort.
Our focus at Journey Colab is to create real value in the psychedelic ecosystem and to capture that value in our share price. With 10% of our founding equity in the Journey Reciprocity Trust, we are creating what we hope will be a real and practical means to supporting Indigenous stewardship.
CEO, Journey Colab