Canada Regulators Ease Access to Psychedelic Drugs

High Times

Health Canada, the nation’s health department, said that drug regulations were being amended based on new research into the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics. “There has been emerging scientific evidence supporting potential therapeutic uses for some restricted drugs, most notably psychedelic restricted drugs such as MDMA and psilocybin,” Health Canada noted in the Canada Gazette, an official government publication. Under the amendment to federal food and drug regulations, physicians will be able to request access to restricted drugs on behalf of their patients through Health Canada’s Special Access Program. Previously, restricted drugs including psychedelics were not available through the program. The Special Access Program permits health care professionals to request permission to use unapproved treatments for patients with serious or life-threatening medical conditions. The program applies only in cases where conventional therapies have failed, are unsuitable, or not available in Canada. Patients are not permitted to request access to treatment through the program on their own behalf. Psychedelic Research Continues Research into psychedelics including psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine has shown that the drugs have potential therapeutic benefits, particularly for serious mental health conditions such as depression, addiction and anxiety. A study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry in 2020 found that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was a quick-acting and effective treatment for a group of 24 participants with major depressive disorder. Separate research published in 2016 determined that psilocybin treatment produced substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.  “Given the growing scientific interest in certain restricted drugs, it is expected that Health Canada would eventually encounter a situation where scientific evidence supports the therapeutic use of a restricted drug within the context of the Special Access Program,” regulators wrote in the January 5 announcement. “The regulatory amendments are therefore expected to benefit patients with serious or life-threatening…

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