Letter to Health Canada Concerning the Special Access Program

by Feb 10, 2021

As a Canadian, I can not yet do enough, and am not yet empowered to access that which alleviates the suffering of our citizens.

To whom it may concern,

 As a Canadian abroad, I hold my citizenship as an asset above all others. Built on the promises of freedoms and rights that we enjoy, the safe passage and international collaboration that protects us abroad, the foundations on which our great land is enshrined that guides how we see the world, and the international reputation we’ve grown to embody that sets expectations that we strive to exceed.

 As a Canadian, I can not yet do enough, and am not yet empowered to access that which alleviates the suffering of our citizens. I am not a doctor, but a concerned Canadian who believes that our restrictions have no merit in the face of rampant physical, emotional, and spiritual pain.

 My aunt was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago. A matriarch, a sister, a mother, a guide, a role model, a grandmother. A Canadian hero reduced to worry, anxiety, doubt and regret.

We’re relieved that her treatment will not cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. She has support and top-tier medical treatment. But this is not enough.

I spoke with her about her worries with the opiate medications she was prescribed for pain associated with chemotherapy. She dreaded becoming a ‘drug addict’ and wished for some other way.

We discussed harm reduction, self-care, openness, cannabis, and the stigma associated with restricted compounds. Why must she accept an opiate prescription from her doctor, with a simple mushroom remaining out of legal reach?

Canadians are suffering, not only from pain, but from untold weights that need not burden our citizens. Psilocybin is recognized by the FDA as a breakthrough therapy for the treatment of Treatment Resistant Depression and Major Depressive Disorder. This therapy has overwhelming evidence to demonstrate that it provides a unique therapeutic option that is yet unavailable to Canadian access.

The compound is not alone in its therapeutic capacity. Canada was one of the first countries in the world to legalize Cannabis, against all entrenched opinions that it lacked medical value. To lock compounds away from research and development, no matter their history or implications, is a disservice to the very capacity for peace we seek to maintain as Canadians.

We have the opportunity to place peace and calm before stigma, and to break the chain that separates Canadians from the therapies that provide them with the relief they deserve and have come to expect.

Medicine has no other goal than to ‘do no harm’ and to provide comfort to those in need.

Please provide medical professionals with the capacity to do what is best for their patients. We all stand to benefit.

Yours truly,

Roderick S. MacDonald

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