British Colombia-based non-profit TheraPsil together with a group of patients and medical professionals from across Canada are headed to Ottawa to demand top health officials better access to medical psilocybin.
The Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) lists the two psychedelic mushrooms components psilocybin and psilocin as Schedule III substances, which allows patients to access them through an exemption to the act or through the country’s Special Access Program (SAP.)
Yet these legal pathways are proving to be insufficient, as dying and severely in-need patients have been waiting for over a year for their exemption application reply, or have been called to try electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) as treatment.
Determined to discuss the “desperate need” for medical regulations with ministers Jean-Yves Duclos and Carolyn Bennett, the group sent a letter to federal health officials with the following statement: “Those of us who have tried medical psilocybin know that it is a life-affirming medicine and has improved the length and quality of our lives.”
One of the patients advocating for the right to psilocybin access for people with severe medical conditions believes politics should not be involved in this part of people’s lives. “Why can’t it just be left to the doctors? People are suffering and it’s faster and easier to get MAiD. Here we are trying to live and yet it’s taking longer,” he said.
TheraPsil’s CEO Spencer Hawkswell noted that, as of March, Canadians with a mental illness will be able to request medical assistance in dying through a program called MAiD, yet their access to psilocybin would still be denied.
If the situation does not change, it will soon be “significantly easier for patients to access a drug that stops their heart instead of psilocybin,” he said.
The meeting request was formally denied, so the delegation plans to protest at Parliament Hill next week and will offer public information and media sessions, reported the Growth Op.
On the other hand, the Canadian Senate’s Subcommittee on Veteran Affairs is studying alternative therapies to support veterans suffering from treatment-resistant mental health disorders. It recently stated that psychedelics show promise in treating PTSD.
“For veterans who have not responded to traditional treatments, psychedelic-assisted therapy using drugs such as psilocybin and MDMA have shown great promise and can have a lasting therapeutic effect that standard methods do not provide, according to expert witnesses.”
The subcommittee noted that “the restricted designation of these drugs has impeded the progress of study,” in view of which it plans to hold more hearings on the matter and will release recommendations. It is inviting experts and people who have had a medicinal psychedelic experience to join.
The subcommittee’s deputy chair Sen. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu said, “In light of the testimony heard to date, I am optimistic that therapies are available to relieve our veterans of the trauma experienced as a result of their service to Canada.”
Toronto’s Psychedelic Mushrooms Shop
Toronto police recently raided the city’s first magic mushroom dispensary, Shroomyz. The store has reopened since, and the city is apparently not planning to shut it down even though it does not hold a license, which leaves it operating in a gray area. Shroomyz’s illegal situation would not directly involve an operations crackdown.
“The City of Toronto does not have the jurisdiction to enforce the Controlled Drug and Substances Act nor is a business license issued for this type of business,” city spokeswoman Naomi Ahmad told CBC Toronto.
Cannabis and psychedelics specialist lawyer Paul Lewin explained to CBC News that the general sense is that the law is outdated and Shroomyz is “filling a void” for a medical need. He added that the city should look at harm reduction tools for allowing access to psilocybin in a “safe and responsible” way.
“Many patients who would benefit from medical psilocybin cannot get access and this tends to happen when there’s a substance that does a lot of good and the government is making it very difficult to access it,” Lewin said.
Shroomyz’s psychedelic products are also potentially available for recreational users, though its website requests customers to complete a medical form prior to purchasing.