Four Canadians Approved for End of Life Psilocybin Therapy

Four Canadians Approved for End of Life Psilocybin Therapy

by Aug 12, 2020

In just over 100 days, four Canadians approved for end-of-life psilocybin therapy: the first exemption for legal use of “magic mushrooms” since they were made illegal

This article was written with support from Andrew Goodridge, MP Nathanial Erskine-Smith’s parliamentary assistant

VICTORIA, B.C., August 11, 2020 — With a landmark approval, four Canadians suffering from terminal cancer were granted an exemption from Canada’s illicit drug laws for end-of-life psilocybin therapy last week by Minister of Health Patty Hajdu. Psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, was made illegal in Canada in 1974. The exemptions are the first for the compound under the Canadians Drugs and Substances Act, and also mark the first publicly known, legal use of psilocybin since the substance was prohibited. 

The patients’ applications were supported by Therapsil, a non-profit organization based in Victoria, B.C. Since 2019, the group has been advocating to provide palliative Canadians with access to psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Currently the only way for Canadians to legally access psilocybin for such use requires a Section 56 exemption from the Office of Controlled Substances. The applications, which were filed in late April, were approved on August 4, 2020. 

The approvals mark a growing wave of support in Canada for the decriminalization of drug possession and use. While Therapsil advocates for palliative patients to use controlled substances like psilocybin, another group has launched a federal petition and national campaign to decriminalize plant medicines, with the goal of making them safe and accessible for all Canadians, particularly those struggling with mental health and addiction. The group, Decriminalize Nature, is an initiative of the Canadian Psychedelic Association. 

Concurrently, Liberal MP Nathanial Erskine-Smith has introduced and re-introduced a private member’s bill (C-236) to decriminalize drug possession of small quantities of all illicit drugs, which would end the need for psilocybin exemptions from the Minister of Health. 

“I am thrilled to learn that Minister Hadju has granted Section 56 exemptions to the four Canadians who applied in April, and in a reasonable amount of time, too,” said Trevor Millar, spokesperson for Decriminalize Nature, upon hearing the news. “This is the first step in making plant medicines safer and more available. The next step to reduce the number of Canadians suffering from mental health issues and addiction is to push through MP Erskine-Smith’s bill, decriminalizing possession of small quantities of illicit drugs.” 

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Liberal MP for Beaches-East York, Ontario commented,

“Minister Hajdu has rightly taken an evidence-based and compassionate approach. Our government regulated assisted dying to protect dignity and individual rights, and it’s critical that we continue to prioritize palliative care as part of that framework. The war on drugs has undermined health efforts, and we need to continue our work to reform these outdated, illogical, and punitive laws.” 

To learn more about the federal petition to decriminalize plant medicines and to sign it, visit 


Decriminalize Nature Canada (DNC) is a multidisciplinary coalition of scientists, mental health workers, healers and advocates committed to decriminalizing plant medicine and fungi at the national level. The group is committed to opening the door to alternative healing modalities associated with sacramental plant medicines. Canadians experiencing trauma-related mental health issues and problematic drug use must be given access to these medicines safely and without stigma or fear of retribution. DNC has gained the support of organizations such as MAPS Canada and the Canadian Psychedelic Association (CPA), comprising scientists, doctors, researchers, and practitioners. 

For more information visit: 

Media Contact and Spokesperson: 

Trevor Millar. Executive Director, Canadian Psychedelic Association and Board Chair, MAPS Canada

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (604) 603 3154 

Instagram: @PsychedelicAssociation

Facebook: @CanadianPsychedelicAssociation

Twitter: @Cdnpsychedelic 

Amanda Siebert

Amanda Siebert

Freelance Writer

Editor at Inside the Jar

Read Amanda's recent work

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