Dying Canadian Patients Win Right to Take Psychedelic Mushrooms as Medication

Canadian patients win right to take magic mushrooms as palliative care.
Magic mushrooms can be legally used by four dying patients in Canada, the government ruled. Getty

Four terminally ill patients in Canada may legally take magic mushrooms as part of their end-of-life care, the government ruled.

The Canadians received approval this week for an exemption from drug laws that have made psilocybin — the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms — illegal since 1974. 

"I was pretty emotional. I was surprised," 53-year-old cancer patient Laurie Brooks, a mother of four told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Brooks, who has twice battled colon cancer, said she struggles with mental health issues as she faces death.

Psilocybin has been effective in relieving distress in palliative cancer patients, according to some studies, but is still undergoing clinical trials necessary before it can be made available to the public.

The patients applied for exemptions with assistance from TheraPsil, an advocacy group that says the terminally ill deserve access to treatments that could help their suffering.

Group founder Bruce Tobin, a psychotherapist, applauded the federal government's action.

"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,"  he said in a statement.

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