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The History of Psychedelics (Part 1 of 2)

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The following content is sponsored by Tryp Therapeutics.

The History of Psychedelics (Part 1 of 2)

Due to their counterculture connotations and rigid legal status, psychedelics were once considered a highly stigmatized topic.

Over the last decade however, a steady stream of groundbreaking research has proven that these powerful substances have the potential to safely treat a wide range of diseases.

Today, attitudes toward the industry have changed, and capital is flowing—resulting in a market that analysts predict could eventually be worth $100 billion.

The graphic above from Tryp Therapeutics is the first in a two-part series that explores how psychedelics have evolved over the last 6,000 years.

From Ancient Antidote to Breakthrough Medicine

Before we dive into the history of psychedelics, it’s important to understand what they are and how they work.

Psychedelics are drugs that alter cognitive processes and produce hallucinogenic effects. Broadly speaking, there are two categories that psychedelic substances fall into: entheogens, and synthetic drugs. Entheogenic psychedelics are derived from plants, while synthetic psychedelics are created in a laboratory.

Here are some of the most well known psychedelic substances explained:

history of psychedelics supplemental

Certain psychedelics work by binding to serotonin receptors in the brain which produces psychoactive effects. Research suggests that when this happens, the structure of the brain changes—such as the number of connections between neutrons. This means that psychedelics could have the potential to rewire or repair circuits in the brain, hence their reputation for having healing powers.

Ancient Times

While the science behind these mind-altering plants is only now beginning to become clear, they have in fact been used in rituals and ceremonies for thousands of years.

As a result, psychedelic substances have been hugely influential in shaping certain cultures and religions dating back to 4,000 BC. These cultures, particularly in the Americas, learned how to utilize psychoactive plants and mushrooms for medicinal purposes or to reach an altered state of consciousness.

YearMilestoneRegion
4000 BCFirst cave paintings of psilocybinEurope, North Africa
3780-3660 BCEvidence of ceremonial use of peyote by indigenous culturesNorth and South America
1300-1521 ADEvidence of the Aztecs consuming mushrooms which they referred to as the “flesh of the Gods”.Central America
1500 ADCatholic texts refer to peyote use as “witchcraft”.
Europe 

With that being said, evidence of how psychedelics were used in ancient times is often anecdotal, and therefore widely debated.

The Prohibition Era

In the 1800s, scientists and psychiatrists began discovering new kinds of drugs such as psilocybin and subsequently became advocates of psychedelic medicine. Unfortunately, uncontrolled drug use for recreational purposes led to governments across the world debating their legal status, and clamping down on restrictions.

YearMilestoneRegion
1897Arthur Heffter isolates mescaline from the peyote cactus for the first time.Germany
1901Jean Dybowsky and Edouard Landrin isolate ibogaine.
France
1912Anton Kollisch created MDMA as a by-product while trying to synthesize another substance.Germany
1938Albert Hofmann synthesizes LSD.Switzerland 
1958Albert Hofmann discovers psilocybin.
Switzerland 
1962Calvin Stevens synthesizes ketamine.
U.S.
1966California criminalizes the possession, sale, and manufacture of LSD.
U.S. 
1968Staggers-Dodd bill passes, making possession of psilocybin and other psychedelic substances illegal. 
U.S. 
1971The UN publishes the Convention on Psychotropic Substances stating that psychedelics including LSD, DMT, and MDMA are now controlled substances. Global 
1971The U.S. Controlled Substances Act comes into effect, moving most major psychedelic drugs to Schedule I status. 
U.S.
1971UK passes Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, placing controls on most known psychedelics.UK

Within decades, the recreational use of psychedelics undermined promising medical discoveries, and put the future of the industry into question, eventually triggering the War on Drugs.

An Industry, Reborn

With these strict legal changes around the world, the psychedelics industry became largely inactive. But today, an explosion of unprecedented research findings surrounding the therapeutic potential of psychedelics has triggered many countries to reassess their decision to criminalize.

Now, the industry is back, and bigger than ever before. In Part 2 of The History of Psychedelics, we’ll dive into The Psychedelics Renaissance the industry is currently experiencing and discuss the exciting future of this promising sector.

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An Introduction to MSCI ESG Indexes

With an extensive suite of ESG indexes on offer, MSCI aims to support investors as they build a more personalized and resilient portfolio.

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An Introduction to MSCI ESG Indexes

There are various portfolio objectives within the realm of sustainable investing.

For example, some investors may want to build a portfolio that reflects their personal values. Others may see environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria as a tool for improving long-term returns, or as a way to create positive impact. A combination of all three of these motivations is also possible.

To support investors as they embark on their sustainable journey, our sponsor, MSCI, offers over 1,500 purpose-built ESG indexes. In this infographic, we’ll take a holistic view at what these indexes are designed to achieve.

An Extensive Suite of ESG & Climate Indexes

Below, we’ll summarize the four overarching objectives that MSCI’s ESG & climate indexes are designed to support.

Objective 1: Integrate a broad set of ESG issues

Investors with this objective believe that incorporating ESG criteria can improve their long-term risk-adjusted returns.

The MSCI ESG Leaders indexes are designed to support these investors by targeting companies that have the highest ESG-rated performance from each sector of the parent index.

For those who do not wish to deviate from the parent index, the MSCI ESG Universal indexes may be better suited. This family of indexes will adjust weights according to ESG performance to maintain the broadest possible universe.

Objective 2: Generate social or environmental benefits

A common challenge that impact investors face is measuring their non-financial results.

Consider an asset owner who wishes to support gender diversity through their portfolios. In order to gauge their success, they would need to regularly filter the entire investment universe for updates regarding corporate diversity and related initiatives.

In this scenario, linking their portfolios to an MSCI Women’s Leadership Index would negate much of this groundwork. Relative to a parent index, these indexes aim to include companies which lead their respective countries in terms of female representation.

Objective 3: Exclude controversial activities

Many institutional investors have mandates that require them to avoid certain sectors or industries. For example, approximately $14.6 trillion in institutional capital is in the process of divesting from fossil fuels.

To support these efforts, MSCI offers indexes that either:

  • Exclude individual sectors such as fossil fuels, tobacco, or weapons;
  • Exclude companies from a combination of these sectors; or
  • Exclude companies that are not compatible with certain religious values.

Objective 4: Identify climate risks and opportunities

Climate change poses a number of wide-reaching risks and opportunities for investors, making it difficult to tailor a portfolio accordingly.

With MSCI’s climate indexes, asset owners gain the tools they need to build a more resilient portfolio. The MSCI Climate Change indexes, for example, reduce exposure to stranded assets, increase exposure to solution providers, and target a minimum 30% reduction in emissions.

An Index for Every Objective

Regardless of your motivation for pursuing sustainable investment, the need for an appropriate benchmark is something that everyone shares.

With an extensive suite of ESG indexes designed specifically for sustainability and climate change, MSCI aims to support asset owners as they build a more unique and personalized portfolio.

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Tracked: The U.S. Utilities ESG Report Card

This graphic acts as an ESG report card that tracks the ESG metrics reported by different utilities in the U.S.—what gets left out?

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NPUC Utilities ESG Report Card Share

Tracked: The U.S. Utilities ESG Report Card

As emissions reductions and sustainable practices become more important for electrical utilities, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting is coming under increased scrutiny.

Once seen as optional by most companies, ESG reports and sustainability plans have become commonplace in the power industry. In addition to reporting what’s needed by regulatory state laws, many utilities utilize reporting frameworks like the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI) ESG Initiative or the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards.

But inconsistent regulations, mixed definitions, and perceived importance levels have led some utilities to report significantly more environmental metrics than others.

How do U.S. utilities’ ESG reports stack up? This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council tracks the ESG metrics reported by 50 different U.S. based investor-owned utilities (IOUs).

What’s Consistent Across ESG Reports

To complete the assessment of U.S. utilities, ESG reports, sustainability plans, and company websites were examined. A metric was considered tracked if it had concrete numbers provided, so vague wording or non-detailed projections weren’t included.

Of the 50 IOU parent companies analyzed, 46 have headquarters in the U.S. while four are foreign-owned, but all are regulated by the states in which they operate.

For a few of the most agreed-upon and regulated measures, U.S. utilities tracked them almost across the board. These included direct scope 1 emissions from generated electricity, the utility’s current fuel mix, and water and waste treatment.

Another commonly reported metric was scope 2 emissions, which include electricity emissions purchased by the utility companies for company consumption. However, a majority of the reporting utilities labeled all purchased electricity emissions as scope 2, even though purchased electricity for downstream consumers are traditionally considered scope 3 or value-chain emissions:

  • Scope 1: Direct (owned) emissions.
  • Scope 2: Indirect electricity emissions from internal electricity consumption. Includes purchased power for internal company usage (heat, electrical).
  • Scope 3: Indirect value-chain emissions, including purchased goods/services (including electricity for non-internal use), business travel, and waste.

ESG Inconsistencies, Confusion, and Unimportance

Even putting aside mixed definitions and labeling, there were many inconsistencies and question marks arising from utility ESG reports.

For example, some utilities reported scope 3 emissions as business travel only, without including other value chain emissions. Others included future energy mixes that weren’t separated by fuel and instead grouped into “renewable” and “non-renewable.”

The biggest discrepancies, however, were between what each utility is required to report, as well as what they choose to. That means that metrics like internal energy consumption didn’t need to be reported by the vast majority.

Likewise, some companies didn’t need to report waste generation or emissions because of “minimal hazardous waste generation” that fell under a certain threshold. Other metrics like internal vehicle electrification were only checked if the company decided to make a detailed commitment and unveil its plans.

As pressure for the electricity sector to decarbonize continues to increase at the federal level, however, many of these inconsistencies are roadblocks to clear and direct measurements and reduction strategies.

National Public Utilities Council is the go-to resource for all things decarbonization in the utilities industry. Learn more.

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