Following the landmark decision made by the Minister of Health of Canada on Tuesday, the four hospice care of cancer patients will become the first people in Canada to legally own and consume psychedelic mushrooms in decades.
The patient petitioned Health Minister Patty Hajdu in April, asking the country to waive the law against psilocybin to use psychedelic mushrooms as part of psychotherapy. On Tuesday afternoon, Hajdu formally approved the patient’s request and announced TheraPsil, a non-profit organization assisting the application.
Therapsil said that these approvals mark the first public celebrity to obtain an exemption from the Canadian Drugs and Substances Act for psychedelic therapy. The first medical patient to legally use psilocybin since the compound became illegal in Canada in 1974.
“This is the positive result that is possible when good people show genuine compassion. I’m so grateful that I can move forward with the next step of healing,” one of the patients, Thomas Hartle, said in a statement Tuesday.
Applicants and advocates of various psychedelic therapies had made personal appeals to Hajidu through consistent social media activities during the months when their applications were pending.
“Health Canada is committed to carefully and thoroughly reviewing each request for an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all relevant considerations, including evidence of potential benefits and risks or harms to the health and safety of Canadians,” a government spokesperson told Marijuana Moment in an email. “These exemptions do not change the fact that the sale and possession of magic mushrooms remain illegal in Canada.”
In a statement issued on Tuesday, other patients expressed gratitude to Hajidu and expressed their optimism that more patients will one day be able to obtain psilocybin for therapeutic use safely and legally.
“I want to thank the Health Minister and Health Canada for approving my request for psilocybin use. The acknowledgment of the pain and anxiety that I have been suffering from means a lot to me, and I am feeling quite emotional today as a result,” said Laurie Brooks, an applicant from British Columbia. “I hope this is just the beginning and that soon all Canadians will be able to access psilocybin, for therapeutic use, to help with the pain they are experiencing, without having to petition the government for months to gain permission.”
TheraPsil said that after the first four patients approved on Tuesday, more people expected to apply for exemptions from the government. The organization said that Tuesday’s statement did not mention another requirement of the organization, which is to allow therapists to use psychedelics in preparation for treating patients with psilocybin.
The government, in its statement to Marijuana Moment, said that the use of “magic mushrooms also comes with risks, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, flashbacks and bad trips that may lead to risk-taking behavior, traumatic injuries and even death. “
All four patients who received the new exemption were diagnosed with incurable cancer. The therapists who use psychedelic drugs in their practice say that psilocybin-aided therapy sessions can help patients cope with diseases such as depression and anxiety, making them better accept that death is part of nature.
“At this point, psilocybin is a reasonable medical choice for these individuals,” TheraPsil’s executive director, Spencer Hawkswell, told Marijuana Moment in an interview last month. “This is about the minister being compassionate and using her ministerial abilities to help give patients access to something that’s going to help them.”
In recent years, more and more scholars, policymakers, and even the US government have noticed the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. In September last year, Johns Hopkins University announced the launch of the first psychedelic drug research center in the United States. The project cost 17 million US dollars to study whether psychedelic drugs can treat opioid use disorders. Alzheimer’s disease, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In June, the University of North Carolina (UNC) announced a $27 million project funded by the US Department of Defense to research and develop a new psychedelic drug. UNC said, “aims to create new medications to effectively and rapidly treat depression, anxiety, and substance abuse without major side effects.”
In May 2019, Denver became the first city in the United States to implement such reforms, and voters approved a measure that effectively decriminalized the ownership of psilocybin. Later, officials in Oakland, California, decriminalized all ownership of plants and fungi-based hallucinogens. In January of this year, the Santa Cruz City Council in California voted to enforce the law banning psychedelics the lowest priority.
Reformers are seeking similar changes in other regions. A proposal in Washington, DC, will allow voters to decide whether to decriminalize plant- and fungi-based psychedelics (including psilocybin, ayahuasca, and ibogaine) fall. It is expected that a decision will be made later this week on whether the initiative will be voted on. In Oregon, voters in November will consider a measure to decriminalize all drugs and expand access to treatment. Another Oregon proposal would legalize psilocybin treatment, which is the same treatment that Canadian cancer patients seek.
Legislators in the state of Hawaii approved a plan to study the medical use of psilocybin mushrooms earlier this year to legalize access eventually.
This article is issued by Marijuana Moment.