Alberta cancer patient undergoes first legal psychedelic-assisted therapy in the province

By Hiba Kamal-Choufi

An Alberta patient with Stage 4 cancer is the first in the province to undergo legal psychedelic-assisted therapy.

Tony White has been struggling with anxiety and depression due to his terminal illness. He said legal psychedelic therapy has helped him "relieve end-of-life distress."

Under the Section 56 Exemption approved by Health Canada, White was granted an exemption to participate in a therapy process overseen by a medical team that includes the use of psilocybin, an active hallucinogenic substance found in magic mushrooms.

First legal magic mushroom therapy announced in Alberta. (Unsplash/Nick Fewings)

First legal magic mushroom therapy announced in Alberta. (Unsplash/Nick Fewings)

According to Health Canada, using psychedelic substances in treating patients is a growing area of scientific study and research, reported CBC News.

"Doing proper clinical studies, proper formulations, proper controlled double-blind studies is what really necessary," said Dr. Neal Davies, the dean of U of A's faculty of pharmacy and pharmaceutical Sciences.

"We are looking at mushrooms and groups of mushrooms as well as other plants, screening in a scientific manner for potential activity," Davies told Taproot Edmonton. "A lot of the drugs that we currently have been utilizing actually had come from plants or fungi in the first place."

Edmonton-based Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation (API) is working with a number of companies in manufacturing for clinical trials, and helping to scale and grow teams in the province.

"As the interest grows really what we expect is that more licensed producers using this sort of standard framework that Health Canada has for drugs and national health products will begin to produce them, and that's what we help companies do for clinical trials," API CEO Andrew MacIssac told Taproot.

According to MacIsaac, the production capability for at this point is very limited. He said there are very few ways to get a consistent product and a consistent medication for patients.