Canada: Federal court ruling sets back health workers seeking psilocybin mushroom access

CTV News

60 health care professionals have applied this month to the Federal Court of Canada to overturn a decision denying them the needed exemptions.

A ruling in a nearly identical case filed in 2022 involving almost 100 other health care professionals was dismissed on Sept. 25 by a Federal Court judge who upheld the decision denying them the exemptions.

The judge found “there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate a need for, or benefit of, experiential training with psilocybin.”

“The evidence does not establish that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy by an experientially trained practitioner is safer and more effective, and the decisions do not prevent patients from accessing psilocybin under their own exemption or accessing psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy,” the ruling says.

Ottawa-based human rights lawyer Nicholas Pope said Friday that he’ll be appealing the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada if necessary.

He said he’s confident that case law and precedents are on the side of both patients and health care workers seeking legal access to psilocybin mushrooms.

Pope said it’s a “unique situation” where case law related to pre-legalization cannabis litigation set the stage for legal battles involving mushrooms now.

“Here we have a safer substance, a substance that there’s more evidence for its efficacy and we have two decades of law (established) that says people have a right to access this, so it’s just a matter of time before we get these cases before the right courts,” he said.

Pope said it is an “absurd situation” where anyone can easily access psilocybin mushrooms from illegal dispensaries that have popped up across the country, while people with “serious and pressing medical issues and health concerns” are fighting for legal access.

“That’s why I’ve been taking on a lot of these cases and doing them pro bono because this is just something that needs to change,” he said.

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