Ron Segev is a founding partner of Segev LLP. He is a practical-minded business lawyer with a keen eye for opportunity, but also a sensitivity to risk. Segev LLP is a full solutions business law firm with experience advising companies in the cannabis and psychedelics industries. Their work includes assisting clients with corporate, commercial, IP, private and public finance, securities and regulatory matters.
PsyTech: How did you get interested in the psychedelics space?
Ron: We’ve been providing legal services to the cannabis industry since the very early days. In particular, we have worked with medical cannabis clinics and we were witness to the evolution of medicinal cannabis as an increasingly mainstream and more effective way to treat certain ailments and conditions. Our experience as cannabis lawyers naturally led us to take an interest in the psychedelics space and the therapeutic potentials of psychedelics specifically. Many of our cannabis clients have entered the space and have engaged us to assist them with their new ventures.
PsyTech: What is the biggest issue holding the industry back? (Stigma, regulation, politics etc?)
Ron: Lack of education and misinformation. Similar to what we saw in the early days of the cannabis industry, we still get people asking us loaded questions that imply that there is something shady about the industry. The regulatory regime is a barrier to broader adoption of psychedelics but the regime can be navigated, and critically, we expect it will evolve.
PsyTech: What’s one fact you want the general public to know about psychedelics?
Ron: Psychedelics is not magic mushrooms. That’s an overly reductive way to look at the industry. Psychedelics hold huge potential for medicinal and therapeutic applications – it’s science based and should be taken seriously.
PsyTech: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to anyone interested in getting into the psychedelics industry?
Ron: Hire a good lawyer who has experience in emerging, highly regulated industries and the creativity to navigate through regulatory regimes that are evolving.
PsyTech: What’s the question you get asked the most when someone finds out you’re involved in psychedelics?
Ron: Isn’t that illegal? We get asked that a lot. People don’t understand that the industry is more diverse and nuanced then they might think. A lot of the work we do is with research and development stage companies; software and other technologies; and increasingly, licensed clinics.
PsyTech: What’s some typical pushback you experience as someone involved in this industry, and how do you respond?
Ron: The pushback we receive is usually born from lack of knowledge. So, we respond by educating.
PsyTech: What are the biggest current hurdles in the space, and how have those hurdles evolved over the past few years?
Ron: The biggest hurdles in the space right now are regulatory. Most of the regulations are highly restrictive so companies can only do so much. That said, things are changing. Notably, Health Canada recently allowed terminally ill Canadians special exemption to use psychedelic therapy. In a landmark decision, four Canadians suffering from terminal illnesses have been approved to receive psilocybin therapy to treat their anxiety. This was the first time a legal exemption has been given in Canada for patients to access psychedelics for treatment. We expect to see further developments in the near future.
PsyTech: Where do you see decrim/recreational regulation evolving in the next 12 months, and is that the most effective means of changing public perception of psychedelics?
Ron: We believe the near-term future of psychedelics will lie within the medical and therapeutics industries. While we think there is an addressable market for adult use or recreational psychedelics, the fact of the matter is that a majority of people still hold a stigma against trying psychedelics and see it as a more extreme drug than alcohol or cannabis. We think those perceptions will evolve, and in particular, microdosing may lead the way for non-medicinal psychedelics use. Of course, the legal and regulatory framework will have to allow for that first.
PsyTech: What impact will this year’s election have on the industry?
Ron: We don’t think the US election will have a direct effect on the psychedelics industry. That said, under a new administration, we may see a new US federal regime governing cannabis retail in the US. This will remove many barriers to interstate business and foster consolidation across lawful states. It may lay the framework for a national, federal psychedelics legal regime and we may see some of the larger companies emerging from this consolidation play a role in the space. However, we think medicinal psychedelics will lead the way and it may be a while before we see an adult use market develop.
PsyTech: What was the initial reaction when your friends and family heard you were involved in the psychedelic industry?
Ron: Raised eyebrows….
A big thank you to Ron for his thoughts on this important conversation in the psychedelics sector – and thanks to Segev LLP for their generous sponsorship of our recent Summit.