The Amsterdam-based psychedelic retreat and practitioner training provider Synthesis Institute has filed for bankruptcy in the Netherlands, Willamette Week reported this week, leaving almost 300 students enrolled in its psilocybin facilitator training course in Oregon with an uncertain future.
Founded in the Netherlands in 2018 by Myles Katz and Martijn Schirp, Synthesis Institute sought to bridge the gap between clinical and more wellness-oriented psychedelic therapies, which are used to help tackle depression and anxiety and has shown promise to help treat other mental health ailments. Its flagship center just outside of Amsterdam offered three- or five-day retreats at roughly $1,000 per day. The company started expanding to the North American market in 2021, and Synthesis planned to establish a psilocybin service center and facilitator training program. It secured $7.25 million in Series A funding in September 2021, with an unusual company structure in the form of a Steward-Ownership organization.
However, the expansion project did not come together as expected. In June 2021, a company owned by Katz bought Buckhorn Springs, a 124-acre property in Jackson County, Oregon, for $3.6 million. The intention was to use Buckhorn Springs as a psilocybin service center, but it fell foul of Jackson County’s zoning regulations. As Buckhorn Springs sits in a resource zone, not a commercial zone, the county’s Land Development Ordinance deemed that it couldn’t be used as a psilocybin service center. This came after a 2022 vote in Jackson County that could have prevented companies from establishing psilocybin centers in the jurisdiction.
While the retreat might have met with bureaucratic roadblocks, Synthesis’ psychedelic practitioner training program was one of the first approved by the state of Oregon. The first students to embark on the Psychedelic Practitioner Core Training program did so in November 2022. The course was due to take 13 months and had an upfront cost of just under $10,000.
Companies fail every day, for myriad reasons. Whether it’s a centuries-old and well-respected department store, a tech startup or a psilocybin facilitator training and retreat organization, bad management, bad trading conditions, bad decisions or just bad luck can take a business under. But in the case of Synthesis, the ramifications of its collapse could have a destabilizing impact on the nascent commercial psychedelics community as a whole.