Canada has some of the most progressive health policies and takes the front seat in drug reforms. Besides having the best cannabis globally, Canada is currently considered a hotbed for psychedelics in general and psychedelic-assisted research.
The renaissance is real, and it’s just getting started. One thing is for sure; the future for medical psychedelics in Canada is bright. To understand the strides we have made, it is prudent that we look into the past, present, and future of psychedelics.
In the 1940s and 1950s, researchers across the globe were busy exploring the different types of psychedelics and the myriad of benefits they could provide. The substances displayed immense therapeutic, medical, and spiritual potential.
Substances like LSD and psilocybin were highly beneficial in treating mental illnesses, addiction and dependency. They provided a more efficient, quicker, and safer alternative to electroshock therapy, years of therapy, solitary confinement, and lobotomies. Some of these methods were crude and are considered significant contributors to the stigma associated with mental illness to date.
Psychedelics made the process of managing and treating addiction and mental illnesses more humane and economical.
Unfortunately, several high-profile individuals were concerned about the risks that psychedelics posed. Additionally, this was when the ‘hippies’ and ‘free spirits’ were rampant. The disdain for the psychedelics and the people who actively consumed them triggered a widespread movement that was specifically started to discontinue their use in any form. In 1968, psychedelics were denounced, and this meant that all the research conducted had to be abandoned.
Fast forward to the present day. It’s a new dawn, and the psychedelic renaissance is here. Canada has become the hub for psychedelic-related research. How did we reach here? What is fueling this sudden interest in psychedelics?
The Canadian Mental Health Crisis
The Mental health crisis in Canada has become a menace. More and more people are suffering, and the current solutions don’t seem to work for everyone, hence the need to seek alternatives. Psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD offer the best alternative. Research indicates that psilocybin can positively alter lives by rewiring the brain to adapt new thoughts, ideas, habits, and memories (neuroplasticity).
Rediscovery of Past Research and the Push from other Countries
Canada is slowly revisiting the research that was either abandoned, criminalized, or forgotten during the earlier days. We are starting from where we stopped, and now, the laws are more accommodative and flexible (although we are not 100% there).
In the US, numerous states are taking bold steps by decriminalizing psychedelics through ballot measures. Oregon became the first state to legalize the use of psilocybin for the treatment of mental conditions. This acceptance of psychedelics by the people and the government in other states has helped create awareness of the immense benefits the substances have to offer.
The Booming Cannabis Industry
The evolution of the law surrounding cannabis has shown that it is possible for things to change, even those that seem impossible. Cannabis has been through a series of social and legal evolutions to attain its status as a legal substance. The optimism it brought has allowed psychedelic advocates to push for some leeway, which they have attained in the form of exemptions. Canadians can now access psychedelic-centered treatment through an exemption under section 56 of the CDSA.
Looking at the promising research, the shift in government perspective on psychedelics, and the global psychedelic trend, it is safe to predict that there is a high chance that the Canadian government will legalize the medical use of psychedelics for specific conditions, scientific purposes, palliative care, and maybe for spiritual reasons.
This groundbreaking change may result from legislation, exemptions under section 56 of the CDSA, individualized approvals from Health Canada, or through a court challenge.
In August 2020, the Health minister granted exemptions to several cancer patients to use psilocybin as part of their end-of-life care. Since then, many Canadians have received the same exemptions for various conditions and others for non-palliative care.
The hope is that the Canadian federal government will continue with its progressive drug policy reforms and lead the way towards the medicinal acceptance of psychedelics such as magic mushrooms.
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