Dr. Bronner’s — the “Magic Soaps” company long-adored by hippies and hipsters — is helping its employees take advantage of new advances in psychedelic therapy. The company, which has donated widely to drug decriminalization and research efforts, has become the first to partner with its healthcare provider, the non-profit Enthea, to give employees access to ketamine-assisted therapy.
The new plan went into effect at the beginning of January, with employees able to take advantage of ketamine medicine sessions combined with specialized counseling and therapy services (21 employees have already signed up for the treatments, according to The New York Times). While ketamine, which is an anesthetic, rose to prominence as a recreational and party drug, research has shown that certain doses can help treat mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
What Dr. Bronner’s is doing internally, the company has also supported externally for some time. Per The Times, Dr. Bronner’s has donated over $23 million to drug advocacy and research groups since 2015, with money flowing to scientists and organizations doing everything from MDMA research to peyote habitat preservation. They’ve also supported an array of cannabis and psilocybin decriminalization and legalization efforts, like spending $1 million in 2020 to back Oregon’s ultimately successful push to legalize psychedelic mushrooms.
David Bronner, a top executive and grandson of founder Emanuel Bronner, has also shown a penchant for advocacy stunts over the years. Back in 2012, he locked himself in a cage in front of the White House and milled hemp oil. Another time, he earned himself an arrest after trying to plant hemp seeds on the front lawn of the Drug Enforcement Agency.
“Offering coverage for Ketamine Assisted Therapy is in the interest of providing tools to our workforce to have the best quality of life and best options for mental health care,” said Michael Bronner, David’s brother, and the current president of Dr. Bronner’s. “Our family and company are no strangers to depression and anxiety. We are deeply concerned about the mental health crisis society is facing, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Considering all our advocacy on this issue, this employee benefit is the next logical step.”
Dr. Bronner’s move to make ketamine-assisted therapy available to employees comes amid a major rise in research into the mental health benefits of all kinds of psychedelics. Indeed, covering ketamine-assisted therapy is just the first step in Dr. Bronner’s plan of expanding the horizons of its benefits package: As soon as they get FDA approval, the company will allow employees to take advantage of therapy and counseling services that utilize MDMA and psilocybin. (Ketamine doesn’t have full FDA approval for treating mental health issues, but doctors can prescribe it if they think patients will benefit.)