Part 4: Progressive, Autonomous Healthcare feat. Susan Chapelle @ PurMinds BioPharma – Psychedelic Communities, Tribalism, and Divisions

by Jul 16, 2021

Evidence-informed policy in the healthcare space has been my calling; land use for my clinic led to being elected for city council

Psillow is hosting a series of articles on Psychedelic Communities. Read Part 0, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Follow Psillow on Twitter and Facebook to get the latest installments.

My world has always revolved around healthcare. The health of my community and access to equitable healthcare for those who suffer.

Bringing evidence-informed policy to the healthcare space has been my calling for decades; a lack of zoning or any professional land use for building a multidisciplinary healthcare clinic led to two terms on municipal council advocating for evidence-informed change.

The neglect of local levels of government and local community economic development in favour of expensive and non-evidence informed markets has always driven my passion for healthcare. When drug policy is involved, the municipal level of government always seems to be left out of the decision making, and with Cannabis, the financial benefits.

Journeys to Health

Human beings experience different journeys to health. Access to evidence-informed resources can be affected by many variables, including gender and culture. Policy and the ‘war on drugs’ propaganda machine, socioeconomic differences, poverty and equity differences can all be barriers to healthcare resources and access to services.

Plant and fungal medicines have been plagued with these access barriers for patients, which drew me to this space. 

Growing up with a chronic, debilitating illness altered my perception on drugs and access to medicine. I started using cannabis at quite an early age, and realized that it reduced my symptoms, or perhaps just the stress surrounding my symptoms. Either way, it gave me a reprieve from a diagnosis of early death. 

I experimented with mushrooms, LSD, MDMA, and other mind-altering compounds. Having been diagnosed with an illness that had a life deadline, my fear of poor outcomes was altered along with my outlook on life. I didn’t feel stigma. I felt my own version of well. 

Building a New Healthcare

My time in the healthcare system led me to advocacy. I worked on mechanistic research into understanding the neurobiology of wound healing supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and published papers to inform post-surgical care. I have built multidisciplinary clinics, informed healthcare technology companies, and worked to integrate healthy communities’ policy into the paradigm of city building. All this work has informed my desire to help develop evidence-informed systems and related policy. 

Many of my peers in the research world utilized psychedelics and cannabis to manage perspective, creativity, as well as the high stress of academia.

As a two-term politician in British Columbia, the stigma surrounding drug use did not reflect the reality of the patients I saw in my clinic and in hospice care, battling cancer and life-threatening illnesses.

It also did not reflect the economic reality of rural communities that have been helped through difficult resource economics by women-led plant medicine businesses and agricultural practices. 

Safe drug supply and standardized, quality-controlled compounds should be a goal of policy makers across all levels of our government. With the clear understanding of harm from the ‘war on drugs’ propaganda, this perpetuating notion that drugs can be controlled through arrests and policing is a long-outdated concept that must be revised and seems to finally be gaining traction.

Cannabis Legalization Opens New Doors

After years in the cannabis industry working with advocates to help cancer patients access their medicine, I started bringing forward policy to change the municipal landscape for plant-based medicines. When cannabis became legal federally, the lack of integration with other levels of government was shocking. Most municipalities were poorly prepared for the land use, zoning, and bylaw changes required to welcome this new economic reality to our areas. 

Cannabis has always been a craft product of Canada, and mushrooms are now becoming the next underground market to thrive in our communities.

Psilocybin and other psychedelic medicines are in the news daily, and access to these compounds has always been local, uncontrolled, and untested. 

Cannabis and mushrooms are both agricultural products that require very specific environments to thrive. The illegal nature of psychedelics, and previously, cannabis, drove the use indoors, which consumes massive amounts of energy, has very little zoning integrations at the community level, and despite massive capital market celebrations, has very little community economic development considerations. 

Psychedelics in Sight

Working alongside amazing advocates, we subscribed to the beautiful idea that farmers and former legacy market brands deserved a place in the legalized framework.

With only 44 (and counting) micro-licenses currently approved by Health Canada, and a framework that requires every single patient to apply for a Section 56 exemption for access to unknown sources of psilocybin mushrooms, the system remains unsustainable for patients’ access to scientifically relevant entheogenic medicines. 

Instead of legalizing community and patient-resourced federal licensing such as ACMPR and MMAR cannabis growers and local dispensaries through testing and taxing; for cannabis, an entirely new, capital-extensive supply chain and system was put in place for political ends.

Two levels of government over-regulate many of the smaller growers and brands out of the legal market.

The arrests from the British Columbia “Safety Unit” were extensive, and many women-led businesses were not able to capitalize and enter the new legal framework provided by the Federal Governments.

Supply chain control for plant medicines has now been moved from community economic development to provincially controlled and Federally regulated corporations. Market access for companies requires Health Canada licensing that has yet to develop a framework for patient access.

‘Barriers to entry are massive’

Barriers to entry are massive, and not evidence-informed. What the future holds for these nascent industries must include communities, equity and diversity and social responsibility. We owe it to our ancestors and our children to ensure that a safe, standardized and locally derived supply chain exists.

As agriculture moves indoors for many reasons including climate change, it is essential to ensure that municipal zoning for these nascent industries are given consideration at all levels of government. 

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