CBC: Some doctors, therapists get Health Canada permission to use magic mushrooms
The health professionals can use psilocybin themselves to begin to develop therapies
Kate Dubinski · CBC News · Posted: Dec 10, 2020 5:00 AM ET | Last Updated: December 10
Psilocybin is the ingredient in magic mushrooms that causes hallucinations, but in medically supervised settings, can also potentially help people overcome depression. (Shutterstock / gsplanet)
Four months after it allowed a handful of palliative care patients to use psilocybin as a way to relieve end-of-life suffering, Health Canada has cleared the way for more than a dozen health professionals to use the psychedelic drug themselves to help develop therapies for future use.
Health Canada says it granted 16 exemptions to a selection of nurses, doctors, therapists and social workers, allowing them to possess and use psilocybin for personal training without fear of prosecution under the country's drug laws.
"This is not a small step. This is a seismic step," said Dr. Sean O'Sullivan, a Tillsonburg, Ont., doctor and medical director of TheraPsil, a non-profit group that advocates for the therapeutic use of psilocybin.
"This is permission from the Ministry of Health and the Minister of Health to allow therapists to forward their own training in psychedelic medicine."
Sickboy1:02:33Mushrooms: The Magic Medicine Thomas Hartle never used drugs before his Stage IV cancer diagnosis. That’s changed thanks to Therapsil. A couple months ago, he became the first Canadian to legally use psychedelic mushrooms to treat end of life anxiety and depression. Take a listen to his story with an open mind. 1:02:33
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The move comes after Health Canada gave four exemptions to palliative care patients to use the drug for end-of-life psychotherapy in August. Since then, other exemptions have been given to patients who want to use magic mushrooms.
The exemptions for health professionals will allow those who want to treat patients with psilocybin to understand what it would feel like and how best to use it.
They are good for one year.
"Psychedelic substances and treatment using these substances, such as psilocybin, is a growing area of scientific study and research. Because psilocybin is not an authorized therapeutic substance, the availability of rigorous scientific evidence demonstrating its safety and efficacy is limited," Health Canada said in a statement to CBC News.
"The exemptions do not permit the health care professionals to prescribe or provide mushrooms containing psilocybin to another person. There are no drugs containing psilocybin that have been authorized by Health Canada. Health Canada's decision to grant these exemptions does not constitute an opinion or endorsement from Health Canada on psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, training, or the safety, effectiveness, or quality of psilocybin."
Psychiatrists, nurses given exemptions
"This is an immense step that the minister has taken, and a very wise step, a step that is totally congruent with the science and the published literature and is a very courageous move on her part and on our government's part," O