Advocates for the medical use of psilocybin mushrooms in Canada launched a petition to call upon the federal government to take action. Interest in psilocybin-assisted therapy continues to grow to combat end-of-life anxiety, depression, addition, and PTSD, among many other conditions.
Petition e-4334 was launched on March 16—an online “Petition to the Government of Canada,” which, according to law, will have to be presented in the House of Commons if it meets certain conditions, Microdose reports. Petitions must be certified by the Clerk of Petitions, for instance, in order to be presented to the House. They also must be signed by at least 500 residents of Canada, and a Member of Parliament must authorize them.
Advocates want to green-light therapeutic psilocybin in any form, and listed several specific conditions that can be improved.
“We, the undersigned, compassionate Canadians, call upon the Government of Canada to allow Canadians to have timely unrestricted access to therapeutic psilocybin in any form as needed to alleviate their suffering via Section 56 exemptions,” the petition reads.
The petition provides three reasons why psilocybin-assisted therapy should be legalized, including the mushroom’s low potential for harm:
- Strong medical evidence exists that access to psychedelic-assisted therapy can effectively treat existential suffering in dying, depression, anxiety, addiction, PTSD, and other mental health conditions, improving quality of life;
- Psilocybin required for psilocybin-assisted therapy is currently only available in clinical trials and by special individual permission from Health Canada despite its low potential for harm; and
- It is paradoxical and unethical to allow physicians to provide MAID for their patients while preventing the same physicians from treating their end of life distress with psilocybin.
In order to sign the petition, signers must be a Canadian citizen or a resident of Canada.
Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy in Canada
Meanwhile, one particular case is drawing attention to the issue of psilocybin-assisted therapy.
Saskatoon-based Thomas Hartle was the first person in Canada to undergo a legal psychedelic-assisted therapy session to treat his end-of-life anxiety. However a year later, his permission from Health Canada expired in October 2021 and he had to reapply.
Thomas waited for over 500 days for approval, but his exemption to continue to use psilocybin for medical purposes was denied by Minister Carolyn Bennett. Health Canada denied Hartle’s permission to continue psilocybin-assisted therapy, which attracted a lot of attention and criticism from the psychedelic community. Hartle believes Health Canada and the Ministers of Health are just waiting for him to die.
Psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy is the only thing that has helped him deal with his end-of-life anxiety and he says that he needs safe, legal access to it.
It’s stories like Hartle’s that are fueling the effort to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy in Canada.
Research about the potential of psilocybin’s benefits continues to unfold. North America’s first take-home psilocybin trial was approved in Canada. A pharmaceutical company called Apex Labs announced on Nov. 1, 2022 that it will be conducting the first North American take-home multi-dose psilocybin clinical trial. Apex Labs is a patient-driven pharmaceutical company that specializes in psilocybin treatments for military veterans.
Apex Labs will launch a trial that will explore the efficacy of APEX-52 (psilocybin) for veterans suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Apex Labs received a “no objection letter” from Health Canada on Oct. 24, 2022.
Dispensaries providing psilocybin have sprung up in Canada. Two men were arrested, and mushrooms were seized following a raid at west Toronto psilocybin mushroom dispensary last November.
The push to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy in Canada, and explore its benefits, continues its march.