TheraPsil Wraps Up All-Party Engagement on Parliament Hill
Political leadership required to ensure safe access to psilocybin
Ottawa, ON (December 1, 2022) – A delegation of patients, medical professionals from across Canada appeared in Ottawa this week. Team members from the nonprofit, psilocybin advocacy organization TheraPsil joined the group, who travelled to the nation’s capital to seek more compassionate access to psilocybin for Canadian adults suffering from palliative depression, addiction, PTSD and chronic disease. The overall response to the proposed medical psilocybin regulations has been extremely positive and encouraging.
The delegation met with MPs throughout the week, and all parties were engaged in lobbying efforts. From these meetings, it is clear that compassionate psilocybin access is a nonpartisan issue, which underscores the importance of leadership from our political leaders in Ottawa.
After being denied access to psilocybin through a section 56 exemption, and unable to find a trained doctor to support a Special Access Program application, patient and advocate Janis Hughes, who met with MPs throughout the week, took matters into her own hands by doing a therapeutic psilocybin journey with an underground therapist.
Hughes, who travelled from Winnipeg for the week, had this to say:
“My experience trying to get access has been extremely frustrating. I am outraged that my government would sooner grant me medical assistance in dying than medical assistance in living. I’ve gone from being fearful of dying to looking forward to death, in a sense. I am not eager to die, I have a renewed sense of purpose. I have an increased sense of self worth…and I’m having a great deal of fun. I see so many people around me who could benefit from this medicine who are reluctant to pursue it, either because they don’t want to break the law or they’re still suffering from the stigma that’s been associated with psilocybin since the 70s.”
There is a growing understanding of the need for a safe, regulatory approach to enable access to psilocybin in Canada for medical use, however, repeated appeals to meet with the Ministers of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos & Carolyn Bennett, were refused. In what the delegation could only sum up as “cruel”, the Ministers refused to hear directly from patients and healthcare professionals about the suffering they’ve endured due to the lack of access to this medicine.
“We had such a warm reception from MPs and Parliamentarians, who took time to meet with their constituents, patients and doctors throughout the week,” said TheraPsil CEO Spencer Hawkswell. “However, I didn’t expect Ministers Jean-Yves Duclos and Carolyn Bennett to snub the palliative patients and their doctors, who flew out from all over Canada to meet with them. These patients desperately need access to their medicine–they want an alternative to Medical Assistance in Dying and have been waiting over 418 days. That is too long. Ignoring the delegation was plain cruel. I’m appalled that the Liberals allowed this to happen. We will not give up on Canadians and plan to be back early in the New Year”.
The delegation will return to Ottawa in February 2023 to continue its lobbying efforts and seek a hearing in an attempt to avoid a costly and bitter court battle.
Special thanks to the organizations who supported the patients and doctors attending the lobby week:
Read more about the week’s events from media coverage:
All other inquiries
Spencer Hawkswell, CEO, TheraPsil