Canada Grants Terminally Ill Patients Access to Psilocybin Therapy

The patients will be the first Canadians to have legal access to psychedelic mushrooms since the 1970s.
Derya Ozdemir

Marking the first time that a legal exemption has been given in Canada to allow patients to undergo psychedelics therapy, four Canadians with terminal illnesses have been approved to receive psilocybin treatment to manage their end-of-life anxiety.

The landmark decision came after the four applicants made their applications 100 days ago, making the quartet the first people to be publicly granted the right to access the psychedelics since its criminalization in 1974.


Treating anxiety in patients with untreatable cancer

The patients who received the exemptions have been diagnosed with untreatable cancer and in order to treat the anxiety about their lives coming to an end, they will be able to legally use the drug. There've been numerous studies on psilocybin-aided therapy sessions helping patients deal with depression and accepting death.

The act was spearheaded by non-profit advocacy group TheraPsil. It is an alliance of healthcare workers, patients, and advocates that aims to help people with terminal illnesses get compassionate access to the psychedelics that may help them. 

TheraPsil founder Bruce Tobin said in a statement, "We would like to extend our incredible gratitude to the Honorable Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu, and to our government. Although it has taken a long time we are impressed with their willingness to listen to patients who have not been heard and to shift focus and policy to accommodate their interests and protect their needs."

Patients gave their thanks to Patty Hadju

The other patients also issued their thanks to Hadju and stated they were optimistic about more patients getting the same legal access to psilocybin for therapeutic use, TheraPsil's expectations also mirroring theirs.

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Laurie Brooks, who is one of the patients that has gotten compassionate access, stated, "The acknowledgment of the pain and anxiety that I have been suffering with means a lot to me, and I am feeling quite emotional today as a result. 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 is also trying to get exemptions for allowing therapists to have access to psilocybin for professional training purposes, allowing them to prepare for treating patients.

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