MindMed’s CEO Jamon “JR” Rahn Wants Nothing To Do With Those Psychedelic Decrim People

By Russell Hausfeld|May 5, 2020

Rahn has been vocal about his lack of support for psychedelic decriminalization efforts, going so far as to say that they could impede scientific progress.

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Jamon “JR” Rahn, the Co-CEO of MindMed—a psychedelic pharmaceutical corporation which recently went public through reverse takeover of a gold mining company (seriously)—has been speaking about his lack of interest in psychedelic decriminalization efforts, going so far as to say that he worries they could hinder scientific progress. 

“This isn’t the 1960s all over again. I want nothing to do with those kinds of folks who want to decriminalize psychedelics,” Rahn told Forbes. “You don’t have to be a revolutionary. You just need to show up to work every day, do the rigorous science, take a pragmatic approach and we’ll get there.”

Rahn elaborated on this statement in Town & Country magazine, saying, “These are medicines, but if there’s a backlash against state legislation, it could shut down the research.”

In his keynote speech at the Microdose Virtual Psychedelics conference, Rick Doblin—the executive director of the nonprofit psychedelic research organization, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)—called Rahn out for these statements. 

Doblin said that he can understand that some companies, like MindMed, COMPASS Pathways, and Usona are staying out of drug policy. Doblin said, however, that MAPS’ support of decriminalization efforts has not hindered their research or their relations with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Though, a source within MAPS has also indicated to Psymposia that—in response to potential pushback from the FDA—MAPS has been treading cautiously around public decriminalization efforts, while Phase 3 clinical trials for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy are underway.

“It’s certainly within JR’s purview,” Doblin said in his keynote speech. “But, I think that this is one of the differences between for-profit and nonprofit. For-profit is cautious, it doesn’t really see the larger mission, which is really getting rid of the drug war.” 

Following the conference, the founder of Psychedelic Seminars, Mike Margolies, took to Twitter to poke the bear, writing, “@JamonRahn, Director of @mindmedco, wants to ‘develop IP’ securing his company’s exclusivity to sell LSD and simultaneously maintain prohibition.”

This proved effective bait, as Rahn jumped into the tweet thread to defend his takes. 

Rahn’s belief, he wrote, is that decriminalization movements could potentially trigger negative responses from the federal government and impede psychedelic clinical trials. And, he said he believes that decriminalization misleads the public on what is actually legal. 

Rahn went on to write, however, that he doesn’t think people should be incarcerated for psychedelics (missing the memo on why decriminalization movements exist). He just doesn’t “support efforts that may impede psychedelics becoming legal as federally approved medicines. All patients w/ PTSD would agree,” he confidently wrote. “[Decriminalization is] just not my fight and not my priority. My mission is to get Medicines to patients. In the US there is a clear pathway on how you do that through the FDA. To me seems most logical, scalable and efficient way to deploy psychedelics to patients.”

The Twitter conversation devolves into well-trodden ground among newly-minted, white-collar psychedelic execs: “We don’t want a repeat of the 60s, do we?” Rahn even tossed out that the last thing the psychedelic movement needs is for Rick Doblin to be arrested and persecuted like Timothy Leary was. But, it is worth noting that this whole dialogue began, as mentioned above, with Doblin criticizing for-profit companies’ lack of concern for ending the drug war. And, maybe the drug war was less the fault of people like Leary than Rahn would like to admit. 

Richard Nixon advisor John Ehrlichman went on the record about the impetus for the drug war, saying, “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people…We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana [and psychedelics] and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.”

“My objective is to end prohibition. Is that yours?” Margolies asked Rahn.

“Not my first priority,” Rahn wrote. “Treating millions suffering from mental health and addiction is closer to my heart and where my passion lies.”

Well, millions of suffering patients, and the fact that millionaire “Shark Tank” investor, Kevin O’Leary, apparently made Rahn shake his hand and promise MindMed wouldn’t get involved in anything related to recreational psychedelic drug use before he would invest in the company. Presumably this would include decriminalization efforts that make recreational drug use less of a legal priority. 

Bottom line? The money isn’t in humane policy change. And, psychedelic pharmaceutical companies may even benefit from being the only “legitimate” providers of psychedelics in a world where these drugs are still criminalized. No matter how many times Rahn says he doesn’t think people should go to jail for using psychedelics, he has proven that he sees more to gain financially from creating a scalable way to “deploy psychedelics to patients” through medicalized pathways, than from keeping current users of psychedelics out of jail on unreasonable charges.

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Russell Hausfeld


Russell Hausfeld is an investigative journalist and illustrator living in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Religious Studies from the University of Cincinnati. His work with Psymposia has been cited in Vice, The Nation, Frontiers in Psychology, New York Magazine’s “Cover Story: Power Trip” podcast, the Daily Beast, the Outlaw Report, Harm Reduction Journal, and more.