Year in Review: Canada’s changing relationship with psychedelic medicine

Growth op

In March, Dr. Bruce Tobin received some bad news. An application he had filed to Health Canada in 2017, seeking a medical exemption to treat palliative Canadians with psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, had been denied.  Dr. Tobin didn’t have much time to sit with the rejection, however. As the global pandemic brought life to a standstill around the world, things were about to get busy for TheraPsil, a B.C.-based, non-profit organization founded by Dr. Tobin. TheraPsil advocates for access to psilocybin, the psychedelic compound found in “magic mushrooms.” This year, the organization pivoted away from its previous efforts of securing psilocybin for an entire class of patients to, instead, working on obtaining individual exemptions to Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act  (CDSA). It worked.  In August, four Canadians were granted   Section 56(1) exemptions to the CDSA, becoming the first known patients to legally consume psilocybin since it was outlawed in the early 1970s.  TheraPsil’s progress this year mirrors progress seen across the continent as the momentum continues to build behind psychedelic medicine, attracting attention and dollars to not only the company’s engineering new compounds, but also those working with historic, Indigenous medicines backed by centuries of use.  “I am hoping that eventually, people like the (health) minister and Canadians, in general, will see that people are benefiting from this and it is not the harmful, non-beneficial substance that it has been portrayed as,” Thomas Hartle, a Saskatoon-based IT professional of 25 years and father of two, told The GrowthOp in June, before receiving his exemption in August.  “If we can do this the right way, and go through official channels, it will pave the way so other people can follow in my footsteps,” Hartle said at the time.  Therapy underway Just a few weeks after that conversation, Hartle, with the assistance…

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