An Open Letter to Carolyn Bennett, Minister for

Mental Health & Addictions, from Thomas Hartle


Dear Minister Carolyn Bennett,

You are telling me that the purpose of the CDSA is the protection of public health and the maintenance of public safety. If this is true, then the medical advice that you are giving me–and to be clear, you are giving me advice about a medical procedure–is what you believe is best for my health and safety. This would of course be what you believe is the case for all Canadians, but of course I am focused on how this relates to me.

What is the advice that you are providing?

That I should access the therapy through the SAP, because I have done so twice and therefore it must be simple and easy. You recognize that accessing this in BC is not financially viable for me but know that BC is the only place I have been able to access the SAP. Your advice specifically is that “any healthcare practitioner who is authorized to treat patients with prescription drugs may submit a request on behalf of their patients for an authorization through SAP”.  My family doctor, like most family doctors, is not necessarily trained in therapy, let alone specifically psychedelic assisted therapy. That makes them an untrained professional. For example, you COULD have surgery performed by any doctor, but you would expect to get a better outcome if you have it performed by a surgeon. They are trained for that sort of thing.

 Do you realize that you are saying that you believe it is best for the health and safety of Canadians to have a medical procedure performed by an untrained professional? I have a hard time believing that you do not understand how irresponsible that advice sounds, but if it will help to clarify it for you, this is how the conversation goes with that family doctor:

“I know you don’t have any training on this, but I would like it if you would fill out this 8 page application to perform this procedure. In order to do this, you will have to provide Health Canada with evidence for why this procedure will work, and you will be responsible for procuring, storing, and administering a controlled substance, although you are unfamiliar with it. You will also be responsible to report back to Health Canada on the results of the treatment. Did I mention that the substance has a stigma attached to it that may damage your reputation with your colleagues and patients?”

The polite answer is “No thank you”. I keep believing that you have to know that this is the answer, because it seems so glaringly obvious. If it is not as obvious to you, then allow me to assure you, this is the answer you get when you ask a doctor to risk their reputation and perform a procedure they are not trained to do. Family doctors are NOT on board with filling out the SAP, which you should already know as you see the requests. If you know this, then you are telling me that I really must go door to door looking for a doctor who will, but you are not even providing any mechanism to narrow that search down.

 Your further advice is that if I cannot get a doctor to do this, then I should just find a clinical trial. You are suggesting that clinical trials are so common and easy that I should have no trouble finding a doctor who is willing to go through the time and expense of conducting a clinical trial for just me! You work at Health Canada, the agency that approves clinical trials. You have access to answer the question: “How many clinical trials have been approved for a single patient getting psilocybin assisted therapy?” How many times has this actually happened? I am aware of more than a thousand people seeking access to psilocybin assisted therapy. Surely SOME of them have been approved in the way you have suggested? But if what I suspect is true, and there are none or next to none, then you are providing advice for me to do a second thing that you are fully aware does not happen.

 You waited 511 days to give this response, and by all appearances, the majority of your time on this matter has been spent waiting to see what I would do, and the majority of your consideration was spent trying to figure out how you could use my desperate actions to find safe and legal therapy, and anything I have said publicly in ways that would fit your intended outcome. If you read my affidavits and watched interviews that I have done with a truly unbiased intent, you would also note that I have mentioned on numerous occasions that my kind of cancer kills most people in about 18 months. The length of time you spent waiting on this application is the typical lifespan of someone with my terminal condition. Further, this is someone with a terminal condition and well-documented end of life anxiety that you are fully aware needs repeat treatments roughly every six months to be maintained. 

Surely you can see how cruel this looks to spend the expected lifespan of the patient just watching what he does and says instead of being responsive and helpful? If you have been watching my interviews and reading my statements (your comments seem to indicate that this is the case) then you already know that I have been fair and considerate when I speak about my dealings with Health Canada. I generally have tried to give you the benefit of the doubt that you are doing your best, and that you are working within the framework of your legislation. There are days when I feel that is not honestly the case.

 You should also be aware that my health has declined considerably over the last several months due to complications I’ve had with an intestinal infection and covid on top of my cancer. I have been too sick to travel to Ottawa on two occasions where I wanted to lobby and meet with representatives from your organization and MPs who are involved. That would also mean that I would be too sick to travel to BC for treatment even if it was financially possible. What you may not know is that the challenges I have had with my physical health have also had some strongly negative effects on my mental wellbeing. Candidly, I have not felt my mortality more strongly than I have in the past month. I can tell that another treatment should be on my near horizon, but at this stage I do not have any legal options available to me.

 If you are truly concerned with my health and safety, send me a list of qualified doctors near me so I can find one that I feel confident in. Send me a list of the one person clinical trial providers near me so I can contact them. But to tell me that I should hit the streets and find these things by randomly looking, when many days I can’t even get out of bed? That isn’t in the best interest of my health and safety, and it is not an available option.

 There are two accessible options for me:

I could try to find access to an illegal avenue. I could buy or grow mushrooms from one of the many options like so many people tell me to do. I could take those at home with my wife, or a friend, or some underground therapist sitting with me and just hope for the best. That is what many people are forced to do.


You could grant my section 56 access and I could use the therapist and or medical professional of my choice to do the procedure, as I have done successfully and safely already.

 This is my honest reality, and my obvious preference that I have made extremely well known in the media. I am trying to do this the safe and legal way. Right now, the only safe and legal option I have available is section 56 and it is so frustrating that you are both fighting me and ignoring me on this. I have been as clear as I can possibly be that the other two options are not viable and available to me, no matter how you try to twist and spin my words into something else, I am clearly telling you exactly what my reality is. You have all the documentation for my case that the treatment works for me so you are aware that this is no longer something I’m trying to test or figure out. I’m simply trying to access the treatment that works for me in a way that I have already demonstrated is safe and effective. I’m not doing anything new here, I would just like to continue doing what I have successfully done in the past.

 I continue to ask you to assist me to do it legally.



Thomas Hartle


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