First Crypto and Cannabis. Now Psychedelics

Jonathan Bixby and Mike Edwards, the duo that’s taken public companies involved in cryptocurrencies, e-sports and cannabis, are back with a fourth London listing in eight months. This time, it’s psychedelics.

Clarify Pharma invests in biotech and life-sciences companies seeking to prove the safety and efficacy of psychedelic-based substances. It raised 1.96 million pounds ($2.3 million) on the Aquis Stock Exchange, a small U.K. bourse. The stock opened at 2.77 pence, up 11% from the 2.50 pence listing price.

Marijuana’s regulatory headway for medicinal use in recent years has paved the way for a flurry of initial public offerings in the U.K. Dozens of startups are betting on a similar legal shift for psychedelic substances, which are being used to develop treatments for illnesses like depression and anxiety.

Scientific evidence is mounting that drugs like psilocybin, an ingredient in magic mushrooms, or Ibogaine, used in ayahuasca-style ceremonies, can be used in mental health treatment. But with so much legal uncertainty, most institutional funds prefer to stay on the sidelines for now.

U.K. investors want to wait and see how the regulatory environment develops, especially given the long timeline for profitability in the psychedelic-based pharma market, said Bixby, who is also executive chairman at Clarify.

Pushing investors’ comfort zones is nothing new for Bixby and Edwards, who listed Bitcoin miner Argo Blockchain Plc in London in 2018. The once little-known company has been swept up in the digital currency’s recent boom, sending its shares soaring more than 3,000% over the past year.

“Investors want to put money in big stories and bold vision,” Bixby said of his IPO streak, adding that he’s working on bringing other companies to market in the gaming, fintech and healthtech sectors.

To be sure, their latest ventures haven’t all fared as well. NFT Investments Plc, which floated on the Aquis Stock Exchange in April to invest in blockchain-minted unique digital tokens, has fallen 37% below its IPO price.

They also started Guild Esports Plc, which went public in October and counts retired soccer star David Beckham among its investors, and Cellular Goods Plc, a synthetic cannabinoid products maker that listed on the London Stock Exchange in February. Guild Esports has fallen 2.5% since its debut, while Cellular Goods shares have risen 39%.

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