Article by Sam Riches, Growth Op
B.C.’s Mona Streleaff is believed to be the first non-palliative Canadian to receive an exemption from the Controlled Drug and Substances Act to access psilocybin therapy.
With the assistance of TheraPsil, a B.C.-based non-profit organization, Streleaff received her exemption in October for unresolved trauma. She was successfully treated by psychotherapist and TheraPsil founder, Dr. Bruce Tobin, earlier this month.
“Everyone has trauma, some experience it when we are small and absorb it and it sits in us as we mature into adults,” Streleaff said in a statement.
“Because of the traumas of my past, I have struggled with anxiety, depression and addiction for years. During my psilocybin therapy, I went deep, way back to when I was a little girl and all those things that happened to me. All the unresolved trauma, it came back and I was beyond terrified, shaking uncontrollably and crying, however with my therapist Dr. Tobin, I conquered those tough memories and after a while I realized…I ain’t scared of jack (shit).”
The organization called Streleaff’s exemption “a historic moment in Canada and a groundbreaking progressive decision by Health Canada to broaden the class of patients who can access this treatment option.”
In August, Patty Hajdu, the Minister of Health, granted drug exemptions to four Canadians with terminal cancer so they could legally access psilocybin therapy. It took more than 100 days for those applications to be approved, but since then, at least two more exemptions have been granted to Canadians, with an average wait time of 10 days.
But, overwhelmed by applications, the organization says it now needs to raise money to keep up with demand.
TheraPsil has been waiting for several months to learn whether or not healthcare professionals and clinicians will be granted section 56 exemptions for training purposes. They are hoping to have an answer by the end of this month and begin a training program in January 2021.
In an effort to meet its fundraising targets, the organization will soon be launching a GoFundMe campaign.
Spencer Hawkswell, CEO of TheraPsil, said in a statement that they are hoping to raise $500,000 by the end of December, and “have already secured a generous donor who is willing to match with an additional $250,000.”
Hawkswell says the support will allow the organization to work with more nurses and physicians who can triage patients, in addition to launching the training program, public education initiatives, and research.
For now, TheraPsil will continue to focus on applying for section 56 exemptions for Canadians with terminal illnesses or those who are in remission from life-threatening illnesses and are dealing with end-of-life distress.
“We must be transparent about our current bandwidth and ability to support more non-palliative individuals, like Mona, at this time,” Hawkswell said. “Unfortunately, at the current moment, we do not have the resources to broaden our inclusion criteria.”