NDP health critic Don Davies backs psychedelics research

Health Canada allows certain companies to conduct research on drugs


Don Davies (left) won his fourth consecutive term as MP for Vancouver Kingsway in 2019. Photo at right by microgen/iStock/Getty Images Plus


The health critic of the federal NDP supports more psychedelics research in Canada.

Don Davies believes, however, that drug prohibition holds back further studies.

“A lot of research on drugs has been one of the victims of the war on drugs,” the Vancouver Kingsway MP said.

Davies spoke with CannCentral by phone days before the federal government granted terminally ill patients approval for legal access to a prohibited substance.

On August 4, the nonprofit TheraPsil announced that four dying patients have been allowed psilocybin-assisted therapy.

“I think the approval is a positive step,” Davies noted in a follow-up interview.

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act lists psilocybin as a prohibited substance. To clarify, psychedelic mushrooms contain psilocybin.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu granted the patients an exemption under Section 56 of the CDSA.

Section 56 allows exemptions for medical or scientific purposes.

No ad hoc approach

Davies stressed that the government needs to loosen regulations to encourage further psychedelics research.

“We don’t need an ad hoc approach,” the NDP politician said.

The federal NDP promised in the 2019 election campaign to work toward drug decriminalization.

With this purpose in mind, the party’s platform pledged that it will work with “all levels of government, experts, and Canadians” on this goal.

“What we want to do is have science-based evidence, evidence based solid research on drugs,” Davies said.

Vancouver lawyers Morgan T. McDonald and Becky Rock work for the global legal firm DLA Piper.

McDonald and Rock recently wrote a bulletin titled “Altered reality? An update on psychedelics in Canada”.

A changing landscape

The lawyers noted a changing landscape for psychedelics.

They cited, for instance, Health Canada’s approvals for certain companies to do pyschedelics research.

These firms include Salvation Botanicals, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Numinus Wellness Inc.

Salvation Botanicals got approval, for example, to research standardized extraction of psilocybin from mushrooms.

In addition, Salvation Botanicals also has a licence around development and psychedelics research. Specifically, this covers MDMA [ecstasy], psilocybin, psilocin, DMT [a hallucinogenic substance], and mescaline.

McDonald and Rock also cited, by way of example, a project by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.

As part of the MAPS project, the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use runs trials on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I’m firmly convinced by the vast preponderance of evidence that all drugs should be decriminalized, and they should be safely applied through medical regulation,” Davies said.

Follow Carlito Pablo on Twitter at @carlitopablo

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