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Canada lets people 'in need' do psychedelic mushrooms, and we're totally here for it

If you have anxiety or depression and you happen to be in Canada, you may just be allowed to eat psychedelic mushrooms as part of your treatment.

Canada lets people 'in need' do psychedelic mushrooms, and we're totally here for it
Image Source: Photo by Joel Sharpe / Getty Images

Earlier this year, Health Canada, the country's government department responsible for federal health policy, announced that some patients diagnosed with terminal illnesses would be granted an exemption from laws in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act forbidding the possession and consumption of psychedelic mushrooms. Informally known as shrooms, this group of fungi contains psilocybin and psilocin and has been found beneficial in the treatment of major depressive disorder as well as other common mental illnesses. Now, a woman from Canada's British Columbia is believed to be the first non-palliative patient to consume shrooms legally, VICE World News reports. In light of the relaxed laws, an impending "shroom boom" is currently attracting big money investments.


"I have struggled with anxiety, depression, and addiction for years," Mona Strelaeff, a 67-year-old woman living in Victoria, BC, told the news outlet. "During my psilocybin therapy I went deep, way back to when I was a little girl and all those things that happened to me. All the unresolved trauma, it came back and I was beyond terrified, shaking uncontrollably, and crying." "Psilocybin therapy" is the formal name for consuming psychedelic mushrooms as treatment. Strelaeff was granted an exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to treat her ongoing trauma, some of which she experienced as a child and some related to her cancer. She is now cancer-free.


Nonetheless, her experiences can pave the way for even more shrooms-based therapies, claimed TheraPsil, a non-profit organization that advocates for psychedelic therapy in end-of-life care in Canada. Spencer Hawkswell, the non-profit's CEO, stated, "Our mission is to help Canadians in need access medical psilocybin. We started with palliative Canadians for a number of reasons. The first is that you have the right to die in Canada, so surely you should have the right to try psilocybin. The second is that they didn’t have time to wait. We had identified some dying Canadians that had weeks or months to live. We had to help them first."


With help from psilocybin therapy, Strelaeff affirmed, "I conquered those tough memories and after a while I realized… I ain't scared of jacksh*t." Her treatment began on November 5, alongside TheraPsil’s Bruce Tobin, a BC-based clinical psychologist. In addition to helping patients resolve trauma, psilocybin has been found helpful in treating those with depression, anxiety, and even Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Just less than two weeks ago, in the United States, Oregon voted to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy across the state while Washington, DC, voted to decriminalize shrooms. With Canada's latest exemption, psychedelic mushrooms have gained even more popularity.


Not only has TheraPsil been "inundated with requests" as of late, but psychedelic medicine company Compass Pathways, which is headquartered in the United Kingdom, just went public. The company opened on the NASDAQ stock exchange following an IPO that saw the company valued at more than $1 billion. In January, TheraPsil will launch the first legal training program for doctors and therapists looking to practice psychedelic therapy. Despite these large investments, the non-profit has affirmed that will be able to retain its nonprofit status, and offer treatment within Canada’s universal healthcare system.


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