Palliative Canadians await August 4th decision on psilocybin mushroom  approval – TheraPsil urges Health Minister to ‘do the right thing’  

Palliative Canadians await August 4th decision on psilocybin mushroom  approval – TheraPsil urges Health Minister to ‘do the right thing’  

VICTORIA, British Columbia, July 29, 2020   

TheraPsil, a non-profit coalition that advocates for legal, compassionate access to psilocybin therapy for palliative Canadians, has received word from the Office of Controlled Substances that patients seeking exemptions will receive a  decision by August 4th, 2020.

4 Canadians battling cancer, have applied to the Minister of Health for individual section 56 exemptions that, if approved, would permit each patient to access medically-supervised, psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy to treat their end of life distress. Today, July 29th 2020 marks the 98th day that patients have been waiting for a reply from Health Minister Patty Hajdu, in response to their applications.

After daily follow up emails, and ​social media videos​ directed at the Minister of  Health, Patty Hajdu, outlining the unprecedented wait, TheraPsil’s Executive  Director Spencer Hawkswell, and Physician and Board Member Dr. Sean  O’Sullivan, were granted a phone meeting with Michelle Boudreau, Director General of the Office of Controlled Substances.

As stated by the Office of Controlled Substances in meeting minutes provided to TheraPsil: ​“While exemption applications are considered on a case-by-case basis,  these will also be evaluated as a group because of the similar elements of all applications. A completed decision package is targeted to be provided to the DG,  CSD by August 4, 2020, for all 4 patient requests”.

“I want to be optimistic about this announcement. It has been a long wait for some of us, and the possibility that relief may finally be in sight is encouraging,” ​says  Thomas Hartle, one the patients seeking access to psilocybin therapy to treat end-of-life distress.

TheraPsil’s advocacy work has been publicly supported by Liberal MP, Marcus  Powlowski, in an ​email written to Minister Patty Hajdu​, where Mr. Powlowski states ​“I urge you to grant the s.56 exemption for these people as soon as possible.” and where he proposes that ​“​ The Ministry should, of course, consider more lasting solutions than merely allowing a s.56 exemption. Solutions that would allow  researchers to investigate the use of such drugs and also other patients, such as  those who are severely depressed, and unresponsive to other conventional forms of  treatment, to benefit from these drugs.”

Patients like Thomas Hartle from Saskatchewan, Laurie Brooks from BC, and 2  anonymous patients, along with the TheraPsil team, anxiously await the August  4th decision, urging the Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu, to do the right thing.  

Individuals experiencing end-of-life distress are invited to confidentially contact TheraPsil on the ​TheraPsil website​. 

Media Contact: Holly Bennett, Director of Communications, ​holly@therapsil.ca 

All other inquiries: Spencer Hawkswell, Executive Director, ​spencer@therapsil.ca


Looking for more on TheraPsil? Read our interview with Executive Director Spencer Hawkswell here:

Spencer Hawkswell TheraPsil

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