Canadian terminally ill cancer patients get legal 'magic' mushroom doses – Business Insider

Six terminally ill cancer patients in Canada received the country’s first legally produced psilocybin, the psychoactive compound found in “magic” mushrooms, under new rules about access to the substance.
The people received the drug, alongside therapy, over the weekend.
Health Canada amended its rules in January so that doctors could request access to manufactured psilocybin for terminally ill patients as part of a special access program. Psilocybin is illegal in the country but has shown promise for treating end-of-life anxiety in people with life-threatening cancers.
People were previously allowed to apply for exemptions to use psilocybin, but there was no framework for them to access professionally manufactured drugs. That meant they had to grow their own mushrooms or source the substance from an unlicensed dispensary.
Under the new rules, patients approved through Health Canada’s special access program can get access to a manmade version of psilocybin from a regulator-approved licensed dealer. While the treatment aims to improve symptoms, it does not treat cancer.
Spencer Hawkswell, the CEO of TheraPsil, a nonprofit that helps Canadians get access to psychedelic therapy, said in a statement on Monday that it was a “momentous occasion.”
“This is a major win for patients and doctors who have been left in the dark for the past 2 years with legal exemptions but no supply of psilocybin,” he said.
Hawkswell told the Vancouver Sun that patients often didn’t know what was inside the substances they were buying. “It’s not as safe as it should be,” Hawkswell said.
Health Canada told Insider that as well as the six approvals, four requests for other individuals are under review.
Thomas Hartle, who became the first Canadian to access legal psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in August 2020, was one of the six people to receive the drug alongside therapy over the weekend.
The Sun reported that Hartle flew from his hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to Vancouver Island, off the Pacific coast, to receive psilocybin for the first time since last August, when his yearlong exemption expired.
Hartle initially legally procured his own mushrooms and used them alongside his therapist in Saskatoon. This time, he was given medical-grade psilocybin from the psychedelic-drug maker Psygen Labs and received group therapy with the other five patients. The special access program requires physician oversight and a treatment team.
Hartle told the Sun that the effects of his first experience lasted six months.
“Magic mushrooms allowed me to calm the worries in my head, allowing my body to use my energy for healing instead and process those fears in a supportive environment,” he said.
Hartle said that it took him 103 days to get the first exemption and that he hadn’t heard back about his renewal application after nearly 200 days. He said that securing approval via the new special access program took three months.
Health Canada said it expected that approvals could be secured more rapidly now that the first authorizations have been granted.
“Requests to the SAP involving new products or new indications typically take longer to process, because verifications must take place with the manufacturer regarding product quality and their ability and willingness to provide the drug,” the health body told Insider. “However, once access to a specific product has been authorized by the SAP, ensuing requests for the same drug and indication can be processed much more quickly.”
Read next
Listen to The Refresh, Insider’s real-time news show
Listen to The Refresh, Insider’s real-time news show


Leave a Comment