The impact of #recreational and #psychedelic drugs for mental health therapy has been discussed in the #medical community for several years now, but international drug legislation has so far hampered attempts to make therapeutic use more widely available. This month, #Canada has become one of the first countries making steps towards changing that, with a Special Access Program that allows #physicians to request restricted psychedelic drugs for their #patients.
This allows #Canadian doctors to streamline access to consciousness altering substances, such as ketamine, LSD or MDMA, to be ingested in a #clinical setting as part of a wider mental health therapy treatment alongside more traditional psychotherapy. So far, Health Canada (the Canadian national health service) have said that requests by doctors will be considered on a case by case basis, with “serious or life-threatening conditions” being a prerequisite for approval. Essentially, it will be a last resort for patients where other conventional treatments have failed, are unsuitable for them, or are unavailable in Canada.
The change is being heralded as “revolutionary” by advocates. One Canadian psychologist told Canada’s National Observer that the news was in fact, “the greatest leap forward in mental health care since the invention of psychotherapy.” Because of its designated emergency status, the Special Access Program is also designed to be waitlist free, with all applications processed within two days of submission by a doctor, which is especially positive for patients dealing with terminal illness, who don’t have the time to wait through the current lengthy bureaucratic process of applying for medical exemptions (the new amendment is a reversal of a previous 2013 policy from Health Canada that required a letter of authorization in order to obtain controlled substances for therapeutic means).