Dozens of healthcare professionals in Canada, including doctors, psychologists, counsellors, and nurses, are advocating for legal access to psychedelics, particularly psilocybin mushrooms, in order to offer therapeutic treatments to their patients. They are currently fighting the federal government in court, seeking a special exemption from Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. This exemption would allow them to undergo “experiential training” with magic mushrooms before being qualified to administer the treatments.
The healthcare professionals argue that there is a need for these drug-assisted therapies, especially considering that individuals are being approved for medical assistance in dying while being denied access to mushrooms for therapeutic purposes. They believe that Canada should prioritize providing opportunities for individuals to live or die with dignity and reduced anxiety.
However, a Federal Court judge recently dismissed a similar case filed by almost 100 healthcare professionals, stating that there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate the need for or benefit of experiential training with psilocybin. The judge also noted that patients can still access psilocybin under their own exemptions or receive psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy.
Human rights lawyer Nicholas Pope plans to appeal the ruling, confident that case law and precedents support the rights of patients and healthcare workers seeking legal access to psilocybin mushrooms. He believes that the accessibility of psilocybin from illegal dispensaries highlights the need for change in the current system.
There is a pending lawsuit challenging Canada’s prohibition on psilocybin as unconstitutional, filed on behalf of several patients. One of the plaintiffs, diagnosed with colon cancer, highlights the issue of access to qualified therapists who can administer mushroom therapy. Having to travel to another province for treatment is physically and financially draining. Despite the slow progress of the legal case, patients like him have seen positive results in alleviating end-of-life anxiety through mushroom therapy.
The fight for legal access to psychedelics in therapy continues in Canada, with healthcare professionals and patients seeking to improve access to alternative treatment options for various medical conditions.
– The Canadian Press, September 30, 2023.