The Canadian government announced Tuesday that it would allow terminally ill patients to use psychedelic mushrooms as part of “psilocybin therapy” to help ease their end-of-life anxiety.
In April, four Canadians suffering from terminal illness asked the government’s Health Ministry for a legal exemption for them to obtain and use “magic mushrooms,” which studies have shown help alleviate anxiety and depression, CTV News reports.
Canadian non-profit organization Therapeutic Psilocybin (TheraPsil) revealed Minister of Health Patty Hajdu’s approval for exemption Tuesday, noting that the four patients will be the first four Canadians to legally use psychedelic mushrooms since they became illegal in 1974.
“I want to thank the Health Minister and Health Canada for approving my request for psilocybin use,” Laurie Brooks, one of the four terminally ill applicants, said in a statement via TheraPsil.
“The acknowledgement of the pain and anxiety that I have been suffering with means a lot to me, and I am feeling quite emotional today as a result. I hope this is just the beginning and that soon all Canadians will be able to access psilocybin, for therapeutic use, to help with the pain they are experiencing, without having to petition the government for months to gain permission.” Another patient stated that their prescribed anti-anxiety medication was no longer working and sought the use of psilocybin therapy.
TheraPsil founder Dr. Bruce Tobin added, “Although it has taken a long time we are impressed with their willingness to listen to patients who have not been heard and to shift focus and policy to accommodate their interests and protect their needs. We also thank the brave Canadian patients who have been public in their fight for psilocybin access, along with the honorable Canadian MPs who have demonstrated courage, standing up for patient rights.”
With the exemption, the production, possession or sale of “magic mushrooms” remains illegal “unless authorized for clinical trial or research purposes,” the CTV reported.
In the U.S., cities like Oakland, Portland and Denver have led the charge in decriminalizing magic mushrooms, with the FDA also weighing approving a psychedelic drug for treating depression. Voters in Oregon will have the chance to decide a ballot initiative in November that would legalize therapeutic use of psilocybin.