The march toward the legalization of psilocybin continues! For the first time in the country’s history, the Canadian government is allowing terminal cancer patients to legally consume psilocybin as part of their end-of-life care, Vice reports. On Tuesday, Canada’s Health Minister Patty Hadju officially approved the consumption of magic mushrooms for four people who have been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Currently both psilocybin and psilocin, the psychedelic compounds that give magic mushrooms their “magic,” are prohibited under Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and (unlike the cities of Oakland and Denver here in the states) don’t enjoy any sort of legalized or decriminalized status outside of clinical trials. According to TheraPsil, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the medical benefits of psychedelics, this is the first time an exemption has been specifically granted for the consumption of psilocybin mushrooms and is a huge win for advocates of psychedelic therapy as part of end-of-life care.
A small FDA-approved clinical trial published in 2016 in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that psilocybin was shown to be an effective treatment for those with terminal cancer who were experiencing distress and depression as a result of their prognosis. The study found that after the consumption of psilocybin, anxiety, and depression were greatly reduced, with 80% of people showing sustained benefits as far as seven months later. Feelings of demoralization and hopelessness were improved immediately, and 90% of participants reported that it improved their overall life satisfaction. While the clinical trial was limited to just 29 people, the results are promising enough to warrant more research into psilocybin’s anti-depression benefits.
Vice notes that permission to use psilocybin in Canada for the four patients was granted under a section 56 exemption to the country’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which is notable as being the same type of exemption that was used to kick off the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes in Canada, and as we’ve covered before in relation to cannabis, medical legalization and decriminalization are the first steps towards recreational legalization.