Article by Sam Riches, Growth Op
Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu has granted 17 healthcare professionals associated with TheraPsil, a B.C.-based non-profit, exemptions to theControlled Drugs and Substances Act(CDSA) so that they can possess and consume psilocybin for training purposes.
The organization had been waiting for more than 160 days for a response to the applications.
In a statement, Dr. Bruce Tobin, TheraPsil’s founder, said the decision is a “huge milestone in Canadian medical history.”
“Our government has recently become a world leader in allowing patients access to psilocybin to treat end-of-life distress, and with these new approvals for therapists, Health Canada now rightfully acknowledges that clinician experience with psychedelic medicines is an important part of their training,” Dr. Tobin said.
This year, TheraPsil has helped 14 Canadians secure Section 56 (1) exemptions to the CDSA. The majority of patients who received the exemptions are terminally ill, though one patient, B.C.’s Mona Strelaeff, was granted an exemption last month as a means to treat unresolved trauma.
Overwhelmed by applications, the organization is focused on securing exemptions for Canadians in palliative care, but is fundraising so that it can expand its patient criteria and launch a training program for healthcare professionals in 2021.
TheraPsil reports the training program will include lectures, case studies, reading and discussions, as well as involve ‘experiential learning’, where doctors, nurses, social workers and other healthcare workers ingest psilocybin mushrooms and are guided through the experience by a professional.
In August, TheraPsil hosted a webinar to discuss Thomas Hartle’s experience with psilocybin therapy.Hartle has been living with terminal cancer for the last four years and was one of the first Canadians to receive a Section 56 exemption.
Though the therapy was successful, Dr. Tobin said there was an emerging need for doctors and other healthcare workers to have legal access to psilocybin for training purposes.