Four Canadians Given the Greenlight to Use Psilocybin Therapy For End-of-Life Care

Written by Lydia Kariuki

It was a big win for Canadians and the plant-based medicine community when, for the first time ever, four terminally ill patients were given the go-ahead to use psilocybin therapy legally in August.

In light of the growing interest and advances in legislation and research in cannabinoid medicine, many in the cannabis community are also moving into psychedelic medicine due to its proven safety and efficacy.

Psilocybin is a psychedelic compound found in a species of mushrooms (“magic mushrooms”) that produce hallucinogenic effects. Possessing, using, or selling psilocybin or its derivatives has been illegal in Canada since 1974. But recent research has shown that psilocybin-assisted therapy is effective as a treatment of mental health conditions such as depression, addiction, and anxiety. [1]

Through this new ruling, Canadians may access psilocybin therapy through section 56 (1) exemptions:

“The Minister may, on any terms and conditions that the Minister considers necessary, exempt from the application of all or any of the provisions of this Act or the regulations any person or class of persons or any controlled substance or precursor or any class of either of them if, in the opinion of the Minister, the exemption is necessary for a medical or scientific purpose or is otherwise in the public interest.”

The Canadian Minister of Health, Patty Hadju, has made history with this recent allowance of therapeutic access.

Thomas Hartle, one of the four patients, expressed his gratitude to the Minister for the exemption. Thomas is a terminally ill cancer patient who hails from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Laurie Brooks, another terminally ill patient from British Columbia, expressed concern over other ailing Canadians having to petition the government and waiting for months before they can access this form of treatment.

Therapsil is a non-profit organization that advocates for legal access to palliative use of psilocybin therapy in Canada. This organization helped these patients push through barriers to access with their petition to the Minister.

Therapsil hopes to help more palliative patients in the future in a similar predicament.

Image Credit: TherapeuticShroom

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Daniel J & Haberman M. Clinical potential of psilocybin as a treatment for mental health conditions. Ment Health Clin. 2018;7(1):24-28.

About the author

Lydia Kariuki