Palliative patients await August 4 Canadian government decision on psilocybin access

Four patients battling cancer seek psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy


Studies show that the psilocybin substance in psychedelic mushrooms alleviates anxiety and depression. Photo by Microgen/iStock/Getty Images Plus


Four terminally ill Canadians expect to hear soon from the government about access to psilocybin.

They anticipate receiving word on August 4 regarding their request to legally obtain the substance found in psychedelic mushrooms.

Studies show that psilocybin alleviates anxiety and depression for people facing end-of-life situations.

The four patients earlier submitted requests with federal Minister of Health Patty Hajdu. They sought exemptions under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).

Section 56 of the CDSA authorizes the minister of health to approve applications if these are “necessary for a medical or scientific purpose or is otherwise in the public interest”.

Support from TheraPsil

TheraPsil advocates for compassionate access to psilocybin-assisted therapy for palliative Canadians.

The Victoria, B.C.-based nonprofit supported the patients in their requests with the health ministry.

Executive director Spencer Hawkswell and physician and board member Dr. Sean O’Sullivan recently spoke by phone with Michelle Boudreau, Director General of the Office of Controlled Substances.

TheraPsil issued a media release on July 29. It stated that the agency advised that the applications will be treated as a group.

Thomas Hartle, a patient from Saskatchewan, expressed optimism about the government’s expected response.

“It has been a long wait for some of us, and the possibility that relief may finally be in sight is encouraging,” Hartle said in TheraPsil’s media release.

Marcus Powlowski serves as the Liberal MP for Thunder Bay—Rainy River.

On July 15, Powlowski sent an email to Hajdu. He expressed support for the Section 56 exemptions sought by the patients.

“One of the few things in life that is worse than death is, perhaps, the fear of death, as experienced by those with a terminal diagnosis,” Powlowski wrote.

The Liberal MP stated that it would be a “real shame if any of the people requesting the exemption, die before they are given the exemption”.

“For some people a belief in god, and an afterlife, may bring them solace but for those who do not have such faith there are really very few, if any, medical options,” Powlowski wrote.

Follow Carlito Pablo on Twitter @carlitopablo

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