Although initiatives to decriminalize psychedelics and develop psilocybin-assisted therapy programs are spreading across the U.S., the retail sale of psychedelics remains a felony in all 50 states. Still, as mainstream curiosity around psychedelics grows, a gray market around psilocybin-based products is finding its footing among customers who are rising in numbers and becoming more diverse.
Not every distributor reaches the same market. Bodegas or other corner stores that sell cannabis edibles also often carry flashy mushroom chocolate bars adorned with Super Mario or Willy Wonka imagery. This is consistent with the cannabis industry’s approach, says Sky, a distributor of psilocybin microdose capsules. Sky notes that the cannabis world typically caters to men through “loud, cartoonish” themes.
According to market research, this strategy has led to more male customers at cannabis dispensaries, says Sky. “Women who are seeking a different kind of presentation don’t see themselves reflected in the brands at a dispensary. It discourages them from coming back.” As people who lost money in the cannabis world rush into the psychedelic space in the hopes of regaining capital, he says they are now making the same mistakes. “There’s a massive demographic that’s being neglected.”
Sephora of microdosing. Sky’s business has been operating through word of mouth alone for the past five years. “We’ve built enough of a reputation that I could scale it even further, but at this point we want our growth to be responsible,” says Sky, explaining that unregulated expansion often leads to cutting corners in production, which compromises the product.
The business’s primary target demographic is career women and mothers who are looking for packaging and presentation that resonates with them. “We want to make sure there’s a clean and simple aesthetic that’s associated more with traditional cosmetics, like Sephora or Aesop,” says Sky. The aim is to make women feel comfortable purchasing and using the product by being able to identify with its presentation, and incorporate it seamlessly into their everyday routine.
“How many young, professional women or mothers are going to feel comfortable eating Super Mario chocolates? And why should they have to?” he adds.
Wellness routine. The decision to develop capsules instead of a chocolate product comes from a marketing approach that targets female customers who seek to cultivate a wellness practice. “Chocolate is a bit unsophisticated,” says Sky, noting that a lot of marketing around mushroom products is focused on spectacle, from the flamboyant imagery to the promise of mind-altering journeys that will help you “learn, grow, be terrified, whatever.”
“Microdosing is about separating ourselves from that spectacle, normalizing it, and incorporating it into a routine,” says Sky.
Ultimately, he says, the business seeks to ensure that they are reaching a demographic that includes more women and others who are not comfortable purchasing their psilocybin products at local corner stores. “Starting at the top allows us to operate in a safer fashion than just putting them in bodegas.”
Extract-based. Unlike many other distributors, Sky’s business doesn’t put the dried fruit of the mushroom directly into the capsules.
“All our products are extract-based from lab grown mushrooms – never foraged,” says Sky. “We can guarantee that all doses will be the same, because we’re using lab-extracted psilocin and are able to precisely determine the dosage of psilocybin and psilocin.”
Sky says his microdose capsules contain “roughly the equivalent of 100mg of plant material,” which is notated on the package, along with an explanation of the difference between extract and plant material. The capsules’ only other ingredient is beet sugar.
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