17 Canadian Mental Health Professionals Are Now Allowed to Trip on Shrooms for Work
The country’s top health official said the goal is to better enable therapists to treat patients who have been legally approved to use mushrooms as part of their end-of-life care.
Published on December 9, 2020

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Canada’s Minister of Health Patty Hajdu has announced that some medical therapists will be allowed to legally possess and consume magic mushrooms as part of their jobs. The aim, Hajdu said, is to enable those counselors to work more effectively with the increasing number of terminally ill patients in Canada who now legally use psilocybin as part of their end-of-life therapy.  

“I am happy to say that yesterday Health Canada granted exemptions to a number of health care professionals who wanted to possess and consume mushrooms containing psilocybin,” Hajdu said, during an online town hall meeting hosted by House of Commons member, Heda Fry, who is also a trained physician. “[The decision] is controversial for some and not for others, but the doctors that prescribe this therapy wanted to understand what it would feel like and how to best use it to help their patients who are struggling.”

One cool thing (of many) about Canada’s health care system is that Hajdu’s office has the power to grant immunity to certain individuals against having to adhere to the country’s controlled substances laws. As a result, advocates of psychedelic therapies have put positive pressure on the Health Minister to continuously expand the use of entheogenic substances for both medical and spiritual practices — and, as evidenced by this ongoing evolution, it’s working.

One such advocacy group that has effectively petitioned for wider use of legal psychedelic is TheraPsil, which has helped more than a dozen terminally ill patients use mushrooms as end-of-life therapy. More recently, the group said, they helped win approval for a non-palliative patient suffering from trauma.

In response to the new announcement TheraPsil CEO Spenser Hawkswell said, “We’re grateful to Health Minister Patty Hajdu. Training will be absolutely necessary to meet patient demand and to begin exploring the many challenges of patient access, primarily a lack of doctors and therapists trained in psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy.”

In a prior interview, Hawkswell noted, “Part of ensuring a very high-quality psychedelic treatment for patients is to ensure high-quality training for therapists,” he said. “It’s greatly beneficial if therapists have had psychedelic therapy themselves.”

Otherwise, Hawkswell said, it would be like “going to a sex therapist who’s never had sex before.”

Talking to Marijuana Moment, veteran physician Dr. M.P. Fry said, “I think it’s interesting that some professionals are going to be able to try it,” Fry said, “because especially when you’re looking at psychotherapy…being able to understand how the patient is impacted by the drugs — what is going on in the psyche, what they’re feeling, what it does to the perception — is going to be very important if you’re going to treat patients with psilocybin and with psychotherapy at the same time.”

Mike McPadden
Mike McPadden is the author of "Heavy Metal Movies" and the upcoming "Last American Virgins." He writes about movies, music, and crime in Chicago. Twitter @mcbeardo
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