Alberta’s first psychedelic therapy clinic has come to Calgary. Undoubtedly, this marks an important milestone for the psychedelic community. With the release of this news, many of you asking… Who can use magic mushrooms legally in Canada now?
How can you get access and an exemption to use controlled substances for therapeutic purposes in Canada?
Calgary Becomes Home to Alberta’s First Psychedelic Therapy Clinic
On January 1, 2021, a cancer patient from the city of Airdrie was the first Albertan to legally undergo psychedelic therapy using magic mushrooms.
Who can use magic mushrooms legally in Canada is completely subject to a government application process.
Alberta’s first psilocybin therapy treatment patient received an exemption under Section 56(1) of Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to undergo supervised therapy that involves psilocybin mushrooms.
Mental Health Professionals Will Begin With Their Own Psychedelic Trip
ATMA Journey Centers * is an Alberta-based company. Making psychedelic-assisted therapies accessible is one of their goals. ATMA collaborating with Wayfound Medical Group Inc.* to develop mental health professionals and equip them with the knowledge to integrate psychedelics into their practices.
*Note: Neuro Growth commends ATMA and Wayfound’s work but are in no way affiliated with them.
In March of 2021, ATMA and Wayfound will launch the Psychedelic Therapy Training Program for Mental Health Professionals, through ATMA’s Calgary Journey Center.
Those professionals who participate in the training program can apply for exemption from Health Canada to experience legal, assisted therapy using psilocybin for themselves- a first in Canada. The goal is to properly equip therapists to facilitate psychedelic journeys and understand how it could benefit their patients.
The trainers for the program are world-class leaders in the global psychedelic medical community. ATMA has confirmed MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Rick Doblin as one of the instructors. Dr. Doblin is one of the most respected professionals in the field of psychedelics.
Interestingly enough, mental health professionals who enroll in ATMA and Wayfound’s training program must then apply for their own Section 56 Exemptions from Health Canada so they can personally experience psychedelic-assisted therapy.
The Government of Canada’s Ministry of Health and the Minister for Health is ultimately responsible for granting exemptions.
For health professionals who are curious, you can view Health Canada’s application for a Section 56(1) Exemption for Medical Purposes Under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for Activitries at a Supervised Consumption Site, here.
At the end of 2020, the Canadian Government had granted 16 exemptions to nurses, doctors, social workers and therapists. This allows them to legally possess and use psilocybin for their personal training without facing legal ramifications and can even purchase mushrooms from black market sources.
Although 16 exemptions to use magic mushrooms legally in Canada may seem inconsequential, this represents a massive shift in how the government views psychedelics.
How Can You Receive a Medical Exemption to Use Magic Mushrooms in Canada?
In 2020, Health Canada granted 4 exemptions to palliative care patients to use psilocybin in supervised therapeutic settings as part of their end of life care.
A few more exemptions have been granted since the beginning of 2021.
Personal exemptions are valid for one year after approval.
There are two ways for individuals to receive a government exemption to use psilocybin in Canada:
- By applying for and receiving a Section 56 Exemption from the Minister of Health; or
- Applying to the Special Access Progam (SAP) – NOT AVAILABLE AT THIS TIME
How Easy is it to get a Section 56 Exemption to Use Psiloybin for Yourself or a Loved One?
How easy is it to get an exemption under Section 56? At this time it is unclear since our experience with this approval for magic mushrooms is so new.
We can’t assess your likelihood of you receiving an exemption. However, we can explain how Canadians can go about applying for one.
The only approved psychedelic therapy facilities in Alberta are ATMA Journey Centers. There are only two locations in the province. ATMA’s website states:
We are currently providing Palliative Care Services for patients who have received Section 56 Exemptions from Health Canada. We are also assisting clients to submit applications with Health Canada for a Section 56 Exemption.ATMA Journey Centers
ATMA says you may be a good candidate if you are dealing with the conditions below, and other treatments have not been effective, including conventional pharmaceutical ones:
- Chronic long term depression
- Chronic anxiety
You are not a good candidate if you have been diagnosed with:
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
You are also not a good candidate if you have had:
- A traumatic brain injury
- Experiencing uncontrolled medical conditions (examples ATMA states include unstable angina, unstable diabetes, uncontrolled asthma/COPD)
ATMA believes that with more study, safe treatment with psilocybin may be possible for people who have these medical conditions in the future.
Individuals who are living with a terminal illness or a palliative care circumstance can apply to Health Canada for a Section 56 Exemption through ATMA here .
If approved, treatment would be provided at an ATMA Journey Center in Calgary, Alberta. It is exciting to note ATMA will soon be opening treatment centers in Ontario and British Columbia, Canada.
How to Apply for a Medical Psilocybin Exemption Through the Special Access Program (SAP)
Health Canada offers a Special Access Program (SAP) for professionals to access drugs that are not “on the market.”
This program is designed to assist practitioners who are treating patients living with serious and life-threatening conditions.
Unfortunately, the SAP is not taking applicants for present consideration.
Future requests for the SAP will only be considered for a serious or life-threatening condition when conventional treatments:
- Have failed;
- Are unsuitable; or
- Are not available in Canada.
Health care professionals are the only people eligible to apply to the SAP.
Who qualifies as a health care professional for application purposes?
- Someone entitled under the laws of a Canadian province or territory, to treat patients with an unapproved prescription drug.
- Practices in that province or territory.
- Has prescribing privileges in the respective province or territory.
This means that most often, the applicant will be a licensed medical doctor.
For future use requests to access a non-marketed drug for a future medical emergency, health care professionals can get more comprehensive details on requirements and how to apply from Health Canada.
Is it Legal to Grow Magic Mushrooms for My Own Use in Canada?
What if you don’t qualify for legal exemption to use magic mushrooms? Is it legal to grow your own magic mushrooms for personal use? Is it treated like cannabis growing in Canada?
A lot of people see growing magic mushrooms as a way to exercise their own health sovereignty and a way to circumvent some of the legal risks associated with buying mushrooms on the black market in person or online.
Though it may be possible and feasible to grow your own magic mushrooms, it is still completely illegal in Canada.
Are there any loopholes? Not that we know of. You’d have to consult a good criminal lawyer in that regard.
In the last few years, microdosing magic mushrooms has gained widespread popularity for its ability to improve mood, enhance focus, and activate the flow state. Many online retailers have cropped up, causing people to question whether it is legal to buy products they discover on the internet.
According to Health Canada:
Currently there are no approved therapeutic products containing psilocybin in Canada.Psilocybin and psilocin (“magic mushrooms”), Health Canada: Controlled and Illegal Drugs
That includes products containing only a small amount of psilocybin, like microdosing capsules.
Many online retailers sell spore syringes and kits to grow your own mushrooms. Are these legal? According to one Canadian law firm:
Mushroom spore kits and are legal and are sold openly in stores and on the internet as the spores and kits themselves are not expressly prohibited by law. The argument for legality of spores is premised on the fact that the spores do not contain a controlled substance – there is no psilocybin in the spores themselves. Psilocybin and psilocin are illegal to possess, obtain or produce without a prescription or license as they are schedule III controlled substances under the CDSA.“Magic Moment…” , August 7, 2020
We aren’t lawyers, and this is not legal advice, but this is how we understand the above statement…
It appears that in Canada, once a magic mushroom grow kit is inoculated with spores and mushrooms start growing, the boundary between legal to illegal has been crossed.
What Natural Mood Boosters Can I Use If I Can’t Use Magic Mushrooms Legally in Canada?
Neuro Growth is committed to destigmatizing magic mushrooms for mental health. However, we recognize illegality is a huge hurdle to overcome.
Would you consider a legal alternative to using magic mushrooms to improve your mood and focus?
Would you like to know what our top 3 legal alternatives are to microdosing magic mushrooms? Find out what we are working on.
Would you be interested in potent herbal teas for anxiety? Check out our favourites here.