VICTORIA, British Columbia, October 5th, 2020

17 healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical counselors, and social workers have applied for legal access to psilocybin, and are awaiting an imminent response from Minister Patty Hajdu, expected the week of October 5th, 2020. 

Following the historic August 4th decision where Minister Patty Hajdu granted 4 terminally-ill Canadians access to psilocybin through approved ‘section 56 exemptions’, TheraPsil, an organization based in Victoria which helps Canadians access psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, has been overwhelmed with an influx of requests for this treatment. 

Currently, an insufficient number of medical professionals know enough about psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy to be able to meet the urgent requests from patients. To meet this growing demand, TheraPsil has proposed a training program to train healthcare professionals in psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy.  

“On behalf of the TheraPsil team and the many Canadians who will benefit from psilocybin therapy, I want to deeply thank the Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu, the Office of Controlled Substances and Health Canada for their compassion regarding the urgent need for psilocybin access for patients.

It is a privilege and an honor to communicate directly with these departments and we appreciate that they continue to keep us informed and  listen to both patients and healthcare professionals who are advocating for psilocybin access for treatment, and training purposes, respectively.

As Minister Hajdu comes to a decision regarding the section 56 exemptions for healthcare professionals, we kindly remind her that true medical access cannot be achieved until patients can be treated by healthcare professionals who are professionally trained in psilocybin therapy. We urge her to consider the safety of patients and efficacy of treatments, and ultimately grant psilocybin access to healthcare professionals for professional training.”

– Spencer Hawkswell, CEO, TheraPsil

An integral part of TheraPsil’s training program involves  ‘experiential learning’ where trainees would ingest psilocybin mushrooms themselves to experience this altered state of consciousness. This experiential learning is believed to provide therapists-in-training a deep understanding of the psychedelic experience so that they can provide the highest quality patient care. Healthcare Professionals began applying for their own section 56 exemptions, to access psilocybin, 109 days ago. 

TheraPsil’s advocacy for doctor access to psilocybin for training was recently publicly supported by three Green Party MP’s: Elizabeth May, Paul Manly & Jenica Atwin, in a letter address to Minister Hajdu, stating: 

As psilocybin becomes more widely accepted and used as a treatment, medical professionals need to be able to access it for their own use, so that they can better prescribe it and counsel a growing number of patients in taking it. The Green caucus asks that you grant medical professionals who seek it access to Psilocybin through the same section 56 exemption.”

Without access to psilocybin for professional training, and an adequate pool of medical professionals trained in psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, TheraPsil feels at a loss in its efforts to help terminal patients who are desperate for relief, and urges Minister Hajdu to continue to show compassionate leadership by granting section 56 exemption for medical professionals.

“I’m a constituent of Patty Hajdu up in Thunder Bay. Our group of doctors and therapists have been waiting a long time for access to psilocybin, which ultimately affects my patients and other palliative Canadians who are eager to use psilocybin to treat their distress.

Professional training in psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for healthcare practitioners is a key aspect of medical access for Canadians who urgently need this effective treatment option.

I encourage the Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu, to grant us exemptions without delay. Minister, patients are counting on us, and we are counting on you.

– Dr Ryan Patchett-Marble, Marathon, Ontario

Healthcare Professionals interested in training in psilocybin therapy, or who have a patient they would like to refer to TheraPsil are encouraged to reach out to TheraPsil on the TheraPsil website.  

Additionally, individuals experiencing end-of-life distress are invited to confidentially contact TheraPsil on the TheraPsil website. 

Media Contact:         

Holly Bennett, Director of Communications,

All other inquiries:   

Spencer Hawkswell, Executive Director,

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