CEO and Chairman
HAVN Life Sciences
(CSE: HAVN) (OTC: HAVLF) (FRA: 5NP)
Interview conducted by:
Bud Wayne, Editorial Executive
CEOCFO: Mr. Moore, would you tell us about HAVN Life Sciences. Is the focus today the same as it was when it started?
Mr. Moore: Our business remains focused on the two elements that we had from the beginning. The primary business and long-
This allows us to participate at retail and generate revenue while we are waiting for the maturation of the mental health in psilocybin and other psychedelic assisted therapy industry. That dual approach makes us different from most of the companies in the space.
CEOCFO: Do you sell exclusively through distributors or also through storefronts and online?
Mr. Moore: We do both. We have our own eCommerce site, yourHAVNlife.com. We ship anywhere in the world. We are on Amazon and we are in approximately 300 brick and mortar retailers across Canada. We currently have no brick and mortar customers in the United States. We have chosen to defer that to the future given the very high costs to launch retail product in the United States. We did not want to commit that much of our cash until the business was more mature.
CEOCFO: On a personal note, what lead you to psychedelics and to have a desire to run a psychedelics company?
Mr. Moore: I spent 35 years in a very traditional packaged good space. I was 18 years with The Clorox Company of Canada Ltd, and 7 years running the North American Brita business. The transition started with a move to cannabis approximately five years ago.
During a life raising five sons, I dealt with a range of mental health issues with them. One had an anxiety disorder and one who was suicidal at fourteen years old. My middle son was in a serious accident and was hit by a drunk driver. He was unable to work for a couple of years and became an opioid addict. He was prescribed four different opioids concurrently and I thought we were going to lose him. Frankly it was cannabis that saved his life and that motivated me to get into the cannabis space.
When I saw what psychedelics could do for anxiety, depression, PTSD, anger management and substance abuse, it persuaded me in the latter part of my career that this is where I felt I wanted to spend my energy and experience to help to advance this business.
CEOCFO: You are the former CEO of Green Growth brands. Having led that company to a $1 billion market cap, how did you end up as CEO and Chairman of HAVN Life Sciences? How long have you been with the company and what attracted you specifically to HAVN?
Mr. Moore: The Green Growth story is an interesting and checkered story. I was with a startup company called Xanthic Biopharma. Xanthic Biopharma was a public company and we did a reverse takeover of Green Growth Brands in the summer of 2018. I stayed on as CEO of the combined entity but there had been an agreement at that time that I would step down as CEO when certain milestones were achieved. We achieved those milestones in December of 2018. In January of 2019 I stepped down and was replaced by another gentleman as CEO. Regrettably as the next year unfolded COVID decimated the Green Growth Brands business. We had 250 mall locations selling CBD products and in March of 2020 guess what happened to the malls? They all stopped and cash flow went away and regrettably Green Growth Brands as a company fell victim to that and in the summer of 2020 was liquidated.
As we were getting down the path on that, I was introduced to someone in the psychedelic space who was looking for a CEO for this new startup HAVN Life Sciences, so I ended up transitioning to HAVN Life in April of 2020 just as the pandemic was in serious lock-
CEOCFO: Having been in the business of psychedelics for a while now, what are some of the challenges that you face? I understand something as crucial as finding a good merchant services provider can be difficult for a psychedelics company. Why is that? Is it just attitudes? Are there regulations you have to deal with?
Mr. Moore: I think there are two layers. One layer is the regulatory environment and everything that we do is highly regulated because we deal with controlled substances. Psilocybin is on the same list as crystal meth as far as the DEA is concerned. But everything that we do is completely legal. We look at the regulatory environment as a barrier to entry because it is challenging to negotiate all of these different rules and regulations. We currently cultivate mushrooms in Jamaica. We transfer them to a GMP facility in Jamaica for processing and they leave Jamaica as an agricultural product and arrive in the United States as DEA Schedule-
In addition to the regulatory challenges there is stigma. In some cases, we get treated like we are Walter White operating a crystal meth lab under a laundry, but as I said we are doing everything legally. An example would be when we tried to get approved by FINRA, they very much did not understand that what we were doing was actually legal. Ultimately the way I explained it to them was psilocybin is not illegal; it is just highly regulated like guns, alcohol and tobacco. There is a legal way and an illegal way to sell guns, alcohol and tobacco. If you want to be in the black market, you can do that but if you want to be a legal operator with guns, alcohol and tobacco you have to comply by the regulations and in that instance fairly onerous as well.
When a company like let’s say Pfizer creates a new drug, it is actually just as illegal as psilocybin until it has been approved by the FDA; they cannot sell it in the pharmacy, they cannot advertise it, they cannot ship it other than to FDA approved clinical trials or other researchers. Those are the only places you can send a new drug that has not yet been approved for human consumption and that is where psilocybin is today. It is regulated and a Schedule-
CEOCFO: Before we get into the products you are developing, what is the significance of your name, HAVN Life Sciences?
Mr. Moore: It is like a safe haven. Given that we are in the mental health space it is allowing people to find their safe haven. If you think about the pervasiveness of mental health, it affects a huge portion of the population and that has only gotten worse because of the pandemic. In the last three years people have lost loved ones, lost businesses, many had to change their wedding plans or had someone die and could not hold a funeral. We have also had to deal with being stuck at home trying to work remotely and trying to help your children cope with the stress of continuing their academic career on what was really a broken remote education platform in many instances. It was just traumatic for many.
If you think of the first responders and medical people and what they dealt with especially the early days of COVID, when the hospitals were overwhelmed and there were no ventilators available or you worked in a nursing home and a third of your patients died in one month. Just think about this, when was the last time we built temporary morgues? Not in my lifetime. The mental health issues and crisis is huge.
CEOCFO: ls the medical community, as well as the patient community beginning to see the benefits of psilocybin?
Mr. Moore: They are, but there a couple of challenges. The United States has a compassionate-
In Canada, The Special Access Program allows physicians to petition on behalf of their patients to use otherwise unapproved compounds. In the case of the Special Access Program, it could be LSD or MDMA or psilocybin. HAVN Life is one of the companies that has been approved as a supplier of psilocybin. The challenge is that not enough doctors are trained and the training is problematic. You can get psychedelic assisted therapy training at any of 60 or more institutions including Harvard University. However, none of those institutions can legally allow you to have practical experience, so you cannot have a dose yourself or administer a dose to a patient in the training program. If you think of any other vocation where there is training, they all have practical training whether it is a dentist, massage therapist, or whatever. So what is happening is some of these groups are sending patients to places where it is legal and Jamaica is an example.
We have partnered with a company out of Maryland and four times every quarter they take patients to Jamaica where they can continue their treatment by administering psilocybin and then return to Maryland and continue to do their regular therapy with them. We are seeing retreat business in Jamaica, Costa Rica, Antiqua and other jurisdictions and it is growing quickly now as the demand to get practical experience and the demand to be able to treat patients legally is growing. What that means is that in the near-
CEOCFO: ls cost a factor?
Mr. Moore: In most instances it is not covered by insurance so currently most people are needing to cover the cost themselves. The one psychedelic assisted therapy that is approved in the United States is Ketamine which is not really psychedelic, it is called a dissociative drug. The cost is around $2,500.00 for treatment and typically you are prescribed five or six treatments. However, it has an impact on your brain and people do get benefit from it.
CEOCFO: In 2020, HAVN Life Sciences became one of the first companies to receive permission from Health Canada to work with psilocybin, otherwise known as magic mushrooms. First, why did it take so long and why entrust HAVN with such an amazing opportunity and responsibility?
Mr. Moore: Psilocybin has been used by people for therapy since back in the 1950’s. There have been thousands of patients treated. What happened in the 1970’s with the war on drugs, psilocybin was lumped in with a bunch of other things. In my opinion the war on drugs was largely a war on patients because the people that paid for it were the patients that were no longer getting access to that help. There are a lot of issues, we talked about stigma earlier but access was really the issue. It took a long time but ultimately there was some movement in public policy makers that enabled the framework for things to take place.
HAVN Life was formed early in 2020 and we were able to execute psilocybin research through what is known as a Section-
CEOCFO: Why is working with the veteran community and PTSD so important to you and what are some of the benefits that psychedelics offer that have been missed by other treatment approaches?
Mr. Moore: You have to appreciate that there is an absolute crisis among veterans. In the last year over 7000 US veterans took their own lives, more than 22 each day. In many instances, they are tormented, they self-
Last year in the United States there were 100,000 opioid overdose deaths. We did not mobilize against that the way we mobilized against COVID. It is a huge issue. Psychedelic assisted therapy offers the promise. Veterans with PTSD who have had psychedelic assisted therapy say that they can get weeks of release from a single treatment and that allows them to feel normal and to wake up in the morning looking forward to the day and have a normal relationship with a significant other. It is allowing them to live their lives. That is where my passion around dealing with veterans and other cohorts rests, is that I believe that we are the industry of hope -
CEOCFO: Why have you chosen to pursue formulation with Reishi and Cordyceps mushrooms? Would you tell us about them and the market demand?
Mr. Moore: Those two functional mushrooms do have cognitive health benefits. It is not nearly the same as psychedelic mushrooms but in the case of Reishi it is a stress reliever, and it does help people calm down. My one son has a social anxiety and during the pandemic he was forced to do classes with the camera on him all day and it was very stressful for him. I had him take Reishi to help him deal with the stress and anxiety of being on camera.
In the case of cordyceps, it is an energy booster as well as an immune supporter. Unlike an energy drink or caffeine, it is a benign way to get that energy boost. Given the high bioavailability of the extracts we use, with these capsules, relatively quickly perhaps in fifteen minutes, you are going to feel an alertness if you are taking cordyceps and feel some calmness if you are taking the Reishi. They are highly effective.
CEOCFO: How do you address extraction and manufacturing of your formulation and products? Are you working with synthetics or the natural extractions in your formulations?
Mr. Moore: For all of our products we are focused on naturally derived, but particularly with psilocybin we saw several benefits of naturally derived. The first is it is much more cost-
The final reason is patient preference. People who are predisposed to psychedelic assisted therapy are seeking an experience that is closer to the traditional use, the shaman and the ceremonial use of it. They are not really excited about having a molecule that was grown on E.coli in a petri dish. We are seeing patient preference for naturally derived. It is challenging to take a naturally derived compound and get it through the necessary approvals but it can be done. We have developed the protocols for doing that.
CEOCFO: 2022 saw the expansion of your distribution channels. Would you touch on a few such as supply agreement with MPB Group Inc. and Jamaican cannabis producer Green Stripe Naturals Ltd, as well as Jonluca Enterprises Inc.. How did they come about? What is your reach today given that expansion?
Mr. Moore: The MPB group is the organization that runs adult out-
On the nutritional supplement side, we also saw increased distribution through our partnership with Jonluca Enterprises and their subsequent merger with a company called Neil Brothers. It allows us to penetrate the traditional retailers where it is really hard for a new startup company to be listed as a supplier. They want to deal with established suppliers and not have to deal with small companies.
We used Jonluca as their distributor and that facilitated our distribution with the largest grocery retailer in Canada called Loblaws, which operates a total of about 2400 stores and has now listed our nutritional supplements in their supermarket format in about 270 stores coast to coast. That was a big deal for us to land that business and to start generating some meaningful revenue on that side of the company.
CEOCFO: What is your role in all of this?
Mr. Moore: My role apart from being responsible for fundraising and dealing with investors is to create an environment where my team can thrive and where peoples’ skills and experience can get things done. I set the direction and strategies and priorities and to help manage challenges as they come up and to help people excel.
I have been fortunate enough to work with accomplished COO Jenna Pozar, who has over 18 years of experience in nutritional supplements. She leads the sales and marketing charge on that side and manages the relationship with organizations like Jonluca and Loblaws.
On the psilocybin side it is a combination of myself and our science team, Dr. Ivan Casselman and Alex Samuelsson, that navigates the relationships with MPB, with Hypha Wellness and with others. It does take a village; everybody has a role. I do not take credit for the things that we have accomplished, I take credit for creating an environment where my team can get them done.
CEOCFO: Are you looking to grow your investor base?
Mr. Moore: The simple answer that is yes. If there are individuals or entities, or family offices or funds that want to take a position in HAVN Life, we are absolutely open to having that conversation. We are in conversation with investors to allow us to accelerate our growth on the nutritional supplement side. It is highly responsive to marketing and promotion dollars, but you need to do that in a measured way so that you do not get yourself upside down on cashflow.
CEOCFO: In closing, why is HAVN Life Sciences important to the future of treating mental health conditions?
Mr. Moore: We are one of the few companies in the space that is focused on naturally derived psilocybin. We are to some extent agnostic as to which of our customers ends up being successful. You think of it as selling picks and shovels to the gold miners. The challenge with new drug development is it is a binary process, it takes years. You have to go through the various stages of clinical trials and ultimately a single piece of bad data can cause failure.
Our role as a supplier to multiple research companies allows us to look forward to success by one of our supply-
We see ourselves as having the opportunity to be a leading supplier of naturally derived psilocybin to support what will eventually be a large business. That day is still some years away and that is why we have the nutritional supplement business to generate revenue and cash to get us through this period and gestation period while the drug protocols are approved.
HAVN Life Sciences | Tim Moore | Canadian Psilocybin Companies | CSE: HAVN | OTC: HAVLF | FRA: 5NP | Psychedelic Companies Canada | With their Nutritional Supplements Generating Revenues, HAVN Life Sciences is Well Positioned to Develop their Naturally Derived Psilocybin Supply-