Psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in over 200 species of mushrooms, is quickly becoming a cherished commodity across the globe owing to its medicinal and therapeutic features. In ancient times, psilocybin was often perceived as a recreational drug. Recent studies revealed that it could treat various mental ailments, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and end-of-life stress, among other mental health issues. Canada made history in 2020 by becoming one of the first countries to approve Psilocybin therapy for terminally ill patients. An aura of excitement spread across Canada as news broke that four terminally ill patients had been given the legal freedom to use psilocybin as a means to reduce end-of-life stress.
Canada’s Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu, became the nation’s most beloved leader after she decided to allow the four terminally ill patients to use psilocybin for end-of-life care. The decision to allow terminally ill patients to use psilocybin caught attention because Psilocybin therapy was outlawed in Canada. The Canadian Drug and Substance Act of 1974 had rendered the use of Psilocybin in Canada illegal. Does the decision made by the Minister of Health mean that the use of Psilocybin in Canada has been legalized? Well, the answer is no. Canada’s current laws dictate that the ownership, production, or sale of psilocybin is illegal unless proper authorization has been obtained for clinical research. Why is there so much hype around the decision to allow terminally ill patients to use psilocybin if the law is still against the use of psilocybin? Hartle, one of the four terminally ill patients allowed to use psilocybin, suggests that the Health Minister’s decision could set the necessary foundation for more terminally ill patients to use psilocybin.
The decision to allow the four terminally ill patients to use psilocybin is quite outstanding, but it supports an extensive account of psychedelics in Canada. Psilocybin in Canada rose to fame seven decades ago due to the actions of Valentina and Gordon, an ordinary couple who participated in an indigenous mushroom ceremony. The couple published their findings in life magazine, thereby introducing psilocybin to the general public. The term ‘psychedelic’ was invented in ‘1957’ by a renowned psychiatrist known as Humphrey Osmond. Mr. Osmond introduced psychedelic drugs to a famous writer known as Aldous Huxley. Mr. Huxley later introduced psychedelic drugs to his wife, who was suffering from cancer. Even though the concept of end-of –like care had not been introduced, Huxley and other pioneer researchers of psychedelic drugs appreciated the potential of psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin in easing anxieties that accompany the knowledge that one is about to die.
Psychedelic research was momentarily halted in the 1960s due to a blend of scientific, political, and cultural criticism, including widespread fears that psychedelic drugs have several adverse side effects. Health Canada placed various limitations on experimental studies associated with psychedelic drugs. Over time, a popular supposition that psychedelics do not have any medicinal value was developed. Many medical studies have revealed that psychedelic drugs have been wrongfully associated with various congnitive and physical effects. Considering that there are several opposing views concerning the value of magic mushrooms, why should researchers continue to explore the topic?
An alarming number of Canadians are diagnosed with terminal illnesses annually. Most terminally ill patients opt for medical aided dying. Ordinary anti-anxiety drugs have various unpleasant side effects and do not ease the stress that most terminally ill patients feel as they try to come to terms with the idea that their lives are ending. Four years ago, a study carried out at Johns Hopkins University revealed that Psilocybin therapy effectively reduces a patient’s level of anxiety and uneasiness. As we look to the future, there is a strong likelihood that more promising results will continue to stream in as more research studies are conducted on the use of psilocybin drugs for end-of-life care.
The impetus for Psilocybin therapy has been gaining traction across all South American states within the last ten years. In Canada, significant steps towards the legalization of Psilocybin therapy have been made. This year, the Canadian government allowed patients who are not terminally ill to legally consume magic mushrooms. Several major US cities, including Denver and Portland, have legalized magic mushroom. A swiftly developing frame of research suggests that medicinal plants containing psychedelic compounds are more effective in treating mental health disorders than traditional medications. For people suffering from terminal ailments, the Minister’s decision is highly welcome, mostly because it marks the start of a more significant movement that will eventually lead to the legalization of Psilocybin therapy.
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