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The Shroom Boom: An Emergence of Psilocybin in Canada

March 2024 from DATAC Newsletter

Canada has experienced a notable increase in the prevalence and accessibility of psilocybin, a naturally-occurring psychedelic chemical included in hallucinogenic mushrooms, in recent months. Referred to as the “Shroom Boom,” this occurrence has attracted significant interest, reflecting the patterns saw in the cannabis sector before its legalization.


The Legal Landscape

Despite the increasing recognition and possible medical benefits, the cultivation, distribution, and ownership of magic mushrooms continue to be prohibited by federal laws. The implementation of regulatory modifications in 2022 has facilitated lawful availability of psilocybin via Health Canada’s Special Access Program (SAP), clinical trials, or exemptions to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).

Since the enactment of these legislative modifications, a total of 176 individuals in Canada have been granted authorization to obtain psilocybin via Health Canada’s Substance Abuse Program (SAP), exhibiting a noteworthy approval rate of 78% for their applications.


Expert Opinions

Scholars in the field of law have identified similarities between the rapidly growing psilocybin industry and the course of cannabis legalization. In an interview with Global News, Eugene Oscapella, a lawyer based in Ottawa, emphasizes the phenomenon of psilocybin normalization, similar to cannabis, wherein larger cities exhibit higher levels of acceptance in comparison to smaller towns.

Dana Larsen, the proprietor of a psilocybin dispensary in Vancouver, emphaized the influence of psychedelics on the lives of individuals in an interview with Bloomberg. Highlighting the criticality of ensuring accessibility to these substances, Larsen stated that “People come into my shop every day and tell me how access to psychedelics has changed and improved their lives.”


Law Enforcement Priorities

There seems to be a nuanced approach within the domain of law enforcement. Although larger cities have demonstrated a more permissive attitude towards the sale of psilocybin, prioritizing urgent matters such as the opioid crisis, the implementation of rules differs among different locations. For example, Toronto police stated to Global News that they give priority to countering illicit drug trafficking, which is a significant factor in the occurrence of overdose fatalities.


Research and the Potential of Medical Applications

The growing fascination with psilocybin extends beyond its recreational use. The Canadian federal government designated $3 million in 2023 for conducting clinical trials to investigate the therapeutic efficacy of psilocybin in addressing alcohol addiction, treatment-resistant depression, and psychological distress among cancer patients.

To date, Health Canada has granted approval for 36 clinical trials with psilocybin, indicating an increasing acknowledgment of its medicinal potential. Furthermore, the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs within the Senate has advocated for the allocation of funds towards extensive research endeavours focused on psychedelic-assisted therapy, specifically targeting veterans who are contending with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


The Future of Psilocybin

The ongoing Shroom Boom has engendered a more extensive deliberation over drug policy, mental health treatment, and regulatory frameworks. The topic of psilocybin’s potential as a therapeutic aid continues to be a subject of significant interest and controversy, as advocates, researchers, and legislators advocate for a more inclusive approach.

As reported by CBC News, Ben Lightburn, the Chief Executive Officer of Filament Health, psilocybin possesses significant potential as a beneficial instrument for tackling the most urgent societal issues. Lightburn referred to the substance’s potential to treat mental health stating that psilocybin “need to be considered as a potentially valuable tool in the war against many of these very serious problems that we have in our society.”




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