How Will the Psychedelic Gray Market Impact Emerging State-Regulated Businesses?

The 2023 reMind Psychedelics Business Forum was held Nov. 28-29, 2023, at the Westgate Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. More than 30 expert speakers presented the latest insights and information in the field of psychedelics with the goal of advancing this emerging industry responsibly and ethically. The videos of the sessions are now available online.

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Dozens of cities across the United States have decriminalized psilocybin and other psychedelic substances, fueling the growth of the gray market at the same time new state-regulated markets are opening for business. A panel of experts explored the impact the illicit trade will have on the legal industry.

The session, titled “Decrim, Gifting and Gray Markets: What Every Business Owner Needs to Know,” featured Amanda Reiman, Chief Knowledge Officer of New Frontier Data; Ricardo Baca, CEO of Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency; and Graham Pechenik, Founder of Calyx Law.

The discussion ranged from consumer demand for regulated psychedelics and competitive pricing issues to the question of whether attempts should be made to eliminate the gray market altogether.

“It’s a fool’s errand of sorts to try to impose a regulated market on the legacy gray market that’s already active, that already has both providers and consumers,” Pechenik said. “I think we’re going to end up with a sort of bifurcated market where we have the newly created regulated market and we have the existing gray market.”

The panel also stressed the importance of harm-reduction, product testing and labeling, and full transparency of psychedelic ingredients.

“We need more harm-reduction services. We need more organizations that are supporting those who are in the these gray markets,” Reiman said. “We need decriminalization in as many states as we can have it to make sure that people aren’t concerned about the legal consequences of the work that they’re doing — and especially so they can focus on harm reduction.”

Watch the full session here



More about our speakers:

Amanda Reiman, PhD, is a social ethnobotanist and has been studying the relationship between cannabis, people and greater society for over 20 years. She is the Founder of Personal Plants, a platform designed to help people develop healthy, balanced relationships with psychoactive plants and the Chief Knowledge Officer for New Frontier Data, an analytics company serving the legal cannabis industry. Dr. Reiman earned her PhD in Social Welfare from the University of California and conducted one of the first research studies on medical cannabis patients and the use of cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs. She currently resides in Ukiah, CA with her partner Sean, their 3 cats and 2 dogs.

Ricardo Baca is a 20-year veteran journalist and drug policy architect. He was appointed The Denver Post’s first-ever Cannabis Editor in 2013 and founded news vertical The Cannabist, where he extensively covered the advent of the U.S. adult-use cannabis market and related issues around the world, as seen in the feature documentary Rolling Papers. Ricardo launched Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency in 2016 to work directly with business leaders in cannabis, psychedelics and spirits. In 2023, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis appointed Ricardo to the state’s first-ever Natural Medicine Advisory Board to contribute to policy development around the state’s eventual psychedelics framework.

Graham Pechenik is a registered patent attorney and the founder of Calyx Law, a law firm specializing in cannabis and psychedelics related intellectual property. Graham has a BS from UC San Diego, where he chose his Cognitive Neuroscience and Biochemistry majors after his first psychedelic experiences inspired deep curiosity about the bases for changes in consciousness, and a JD from New York University, where he initially pursued interests in bioethics and cognitive liberty. After a decade at large law firms obtaining, defending, and challenging patents for Fortune 500 companies across the agricultural, chemical, pharmaceutical, biotech, and technology industries, including working on several landmark patent cases both at trial and on appeal, Graham started Calyx Law in 2016 as the first patent law boutique in California to focus on the cannabis industry.