Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying Recommends Review of Psilocybin for Palliative Care & Research

A Canadian parliamentary committee has made 23 recommendations to improve the country’s assisted-dying regime. Among the recommendations is a call for Health Canada to review the potential use of psilocybin as a therapy for both research purposes and for individual use as part of palliative care support.

The recommendation reflects a growing interest in alternative and complementary therapies in end-of-life care. TheraPsil CEO Spencer Hawkswell and palliative care physician Dr. Valorie Masuda, also a TheraPsil board member, testified in front of the committee, and their advocacy has directly supported patients who want legal medical access to psilocybin.

Psilocybin, the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms”, has gained attention in recent years for its potential therapeutic benefits, particularly in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and end-of-life distress. While still classified as a Schedule III drug in Canada, Health Canada has granted exemptions for psilocybin use in certain medical contexts.

The committee’s recommendation to study the potential use of psilocybin as part of palliative care reflects a growing interest in alternative and complementary therapies in end-of-life care.

Here is what the committee report says:

The committee agrees that the regulatory process relating to promising therapies, such as psilocybin, should be reviewed to identify possible barriers or inefficiencies. The committee therefore recommends:

Recommendation 9:
That Health Canada review the Special Access Program, other programs and policies, and relevant laws and regulations to determine whether there are ways to improve access to promising therapies, such as psilocybin, for both research purposes and for individual use as part of palliative care supports.

The report is expected to inform the passage of a government bill to delay the expansion of medically-assisted dying until March 2024. While the recommendations are not binding, they signal a growing recognition of the need for more research and a more holistic approach to end-of-life care in Canada.

This report also acknowledges issues with the SAP and lack of medical regulation.

TheraPsil CEO Spencer Hawkswell on the importance of adopting regulations:

At present, many patients are unable to access psilocybin through the SAP, and many SAPs require a legal submission from lawyers to get a response from Health Canada officials. We hope to see a positive response from our government and swift change from Health Canada’s SAP office. However our team agrees with the report that suggests there should be a regulatory review. Regulations may be the only way to ensure that Canadians with the right to die with MAiD have the right to try medical psilocybin when a doctor and patient believe it to be a reasonable medical decision.

Patients and healthcare professionals are happy to see their voices heard and grateful to the AMAD committee members for raising these issues.

Patient and advocate Janis Hughes had this to say:

As a stage IV cancer patient who is currently eligible for MAiD but has been denied access through the existing legal pathways to the life enhancing and possibly life-extending benefits of psilocybin that I would prefer, I am gratified to see the government undertaking sober second thought on this issue.


Media Contact

John Gilchrist


All other inquiries

Spencer Hawkswell, CEO, TheraPsil



To support the ongoing legal battle to bring regulated access to medical psilocybin in Canada, TheraPsil is being supported by Red Light Holland with a matching donation campaign for up to $10,000. Please consider making a donation to support patients like Janis today.




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