susan chapelle COO Purdenza

As we celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #choosetochallenge, we’re highlighting women in the cannabis and psychedelic industries who have overcome challenges to smash glass ceilings and pave the road for the boss ladies of tomorrow.

We asked Purdenza Inc. COO, Susan Chapelle about her experiences in the cannabis and psychedelic industries and her advice for women interested in learning about and working with psychedelics.

What can the psychedelics industry learn from the cannabis industry?
The cannabis industry existed long before the market frenzy. Legalization killed so many small, women-led brands in our communities. Businesses that supported families, patients, and were localized economic development. Although I agree with the move to test and make safe from pesticides and introduce standards, the way legalization rolled out was not evidence-informed, nor did it take into account the many patients who were accessing local flower and products. The mass transportation and lack of opportunities for small growers may be repeated in the mushroom industry.

The difference with psychedelic medicine is that some of these compounds are synthesized, and lack safety profile, dosing and long-term outcomes. Not unlike cannabis research, we are coming out of a science prohibition more than a cultural prohibition. The new market frenzy means many companies are getting into the industry without licensing, or opportunity for product. I look at the new market forward mushroom industry and I see many companies and academic institutions doing excellent work to prove hypotheses and conjecture that has surrounded these compounds. They are furthering the work of pioneers who had great hope for this class of compounds with peer-reviewed, well-controlled studies. There are also companies without licenses, without credible scientists and who are taking advantage of policy in other countries without giving back. 

What’s the number one piece of advice you’d give to a womxn looking to enter the psychedelics industry?
Make sure that your company recognizes equity and diversity policy. That they have an HR strategy, and are licensed with a facility. Don’t get involved with a pitch deck and a dream unless you have the resources and runway to fail. Make sure the team is kind, collaborative and inclusive, and the values of the company resonate with your own. 

susan chapelle COO Purdenza

Who are 5 womxn to follow in psychedelics?
Psychedelics has been a natural compound industry that has remarkable, passionate women advocates. These women recognize that this is a science driven industry, but with a rich cultural history of ceremony and helping people with difficult to manage disorders.  These women are behind the scenes doing the work necessary to move the dial: 

Samantha Tabone
Janet Qi
Juliana Quadros Mollica 
Nadia Van Der Heyden
Terri Smith 

What do you find most interesting about working with psychedelics?
The opportunity to discover how psychedelic compounds can help humans to thrive and overcome challenges. I have been publishing on mechanisms of action in neurobiology for over 10 years. My own personal struggles with healthcare mean I have been in clinical trials since I was six years old. Discovering novel ways to help move the dial on neurodegenerative diseases, mental health and inflammatory diseases is the most exciting and interesting part of working in this industry. 

If women are interested in exploring psychedelics where should they start?There are many new clinics opening that adhere to ‘set’ and ‘setting’. I do think it is important to have a facilitator and safe, standardized dosing when using a threshold dose of any psychedelic. Ketamine therapy is becoming widely available through psychiatry, and there are some excellent new opportunities with the growing industry capacity. The industry is discovering new disease profiles that can be affected, including addictions research and neurological benefits.  As the safety profile becomes more clear through controlled studies and more universities working in this field, I think the opportunity to explore psychedelics will be more profound. I look forward to the day when therapy is equitable and is funded through insurance and medical systems. 

To hear more from Susan, follow her on twitter.

For more stories and news from inspirational women in the community check out our blog.

Looking for a way to connect with women in weed & psychedelics? Register for our upcoming International Women’s Day event on March 8th, 2021! Susan Chapelle & one of her top five womxn in Psychedelics to follow, Terri Smith, will both be speaking.