Published on
August 4, 2020

4 Palliative Canadians Approved For End Of Life Psilocybin Therapy Through Section 56(1) ; First Legal Medical Exemptions For Psilocybin in Canada Since 1970’s

VICTORIA, British Columbia, August 4th, 2020

Four Canadians battling incurable cancer have been approved by the Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu, to use psilocybin therapy in the treatment of their end-of-life distress. These 4 patients mark the first publicly-known individuals to receive a legal exemption from the Canadian Drugs and Substances Act to access psychedelic therapy, and the first known patients to legally use psilocybin since the compound became illegal in Canada in 1974. The decision comes after over 100 days of waiting for a response.

“I would like to personally thank the Hon. Minister Hajdu and the team at the Office of Controlled Substances for the approval of my section 56 exemption. This is the positive result that is possible when good people show genuine compassion. I’m so grateful that I can move forward with the next step of healing” says Thomas Hartle, one the section 56 applicants battling cancer, from Saskatoon Saskatchewan.  

Laurie Brooks, another applicant from British Columbia facing end-of-life distress states:  “I want to thank the Health Minister and Health Canada for approving my request for psilocybin use.  The acknowledgement of the pain and anxiety that I have been suffering with means a lot to me, and I am feeling quite emotional today as a result.  I hope this is just the beginning and that soon all Canadians will be able to access psilocybin, for therapeutic use, to help with the pain they are experiencing, without having to petition the government for months to gain permission.  Thanks also to TheraPsil for helping the four of us in this fight.  To Thomas Hartel and the other two patients – I think of you often and wish you only good things, especially good health!”

TheraPsil, a non-profit coalition that advocates for legal, compassionate access to psilocybin therapy for palliative Canadians, supported patients with their applications to seek ministerial approval and has been advocating for compassionate access since 2019. It is anticipated that there will now be many more applications made through the exemption process provided under the Canadian Drugs and Substances Act.

Dr. Bruce Tobin, Founder and Chairman of TheraPsil remarks: “We would like to extend our incredible gratitude to the Honorable Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu, and to our government. Although it has taken a long time we are impressed with their willingness to listen to patients who have not been heard and to shift focus and policy to accommodate their interests and protect their needs. We also thank the brave Canadian patients who have been public in their fight for psilocybin access, along with the honourable Canadian MPs who have demonstrated courage, standing up for patient rights, including Marcus Powlowski,  Ed Fast, Elizabeth May, Paul Manley, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Helena Jaczek, and Hedy Fry”

Therapsil looks forward to continuing to support patient applications, and to working with the Health Minister, Patty Hajdu, and Health Canada to approve exemptions for Health Care Practitioners so they may use psilocybin for professional training in psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy. .

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

Media Contact:        

Holly Bennett, Director of Communications,

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Spencer Hawkswell, Executive Director,