Psilocybin is known to help those struggling with mental health and cronic illnesses (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File).

Psilocybin is known to help those struggling with mental health and cronic illnesses (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File).

Magical medicine: B.C. cannabis farmers are ready to safely produce psilocybin

TheraPsil, a non-profit coalition, hosted the event

Medical cannabis farmers across the province are ready to safely produce magic mushrooms under a federally regulated system, according to experts.

At a round table held in Duncan on June 16, participants consisting of craft cannabis farmers, patient advocates and other psilocybin experts agreed that the farmers are well situated to produce psilocybin for therapeutic purposes.

TheraPsil, a non-profit coalition that advocates for psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, hosted the event alongside BC Craft Farmers Co-op (BCCFC).

While psilocybin is currently illegal in Canada, former federal health minister, Patty Hajdu, started granting legal exemptions in 2021 for some individuals to possess or produce the drug for medical purposes.

Albert Eppinga, an Indigenous cannabis farmer and founder of BC Cannabis Inc in Sooke, attended the event. He says that cannabis farmers who are well trained can help more people gain access to medical psilocybin.

Eppinga is also co-founder of Shaman Psychedelics, a new Indigenous-owned company that will specialize in the cultivation, processing and sale of psilocybin mushrooms under Health Canada regulations.

“We’re just trying to bring back our traditional medicines. Give it to the people be able to try it and see if it helps them. I can guarantee it will, especially with post-traumatic stress and residential schools,” he said.

Jim Doswell is one B.C. resident granted a Section 56 exemption in Dec. 2021. The exemption allows him to possess small amounts of psilocybin for medical purposes.

Doswell, who is also a TheraPsil patient and board of directors member, uses psilocybin to help with anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

He attended the round table as a patient representative to speak on his experiences and how to best approach getting people the care they need.

After retiring from a position with the federal government in 2017, Doswell says he did not leave his house for a “long time” due to anxiety.

That all changed once Doswell began his treatment with TheraPsil and was granted his exemption.

“I don’t drink anymore. I’ve lost 40 pounds. I’m back in the world,” he says.

“The results [of therapeutic psilocybin] are probably nothing short of miraculous, so I’ve become a fairly strong advocate at least for what it did for me.”

While Doswell is able to benefit from therapeutic psilocybin, the process to gain his exemption was a lengthy one, taking roughly six months to be approved.

Time is something that not all patients can afford, as many seek out psilocybin to aid with end-of-life anxieties and pain.

Additionally, those looking to obtain an exemption are not always granted one to possess or receive safe access to regulated psilocybin. As a result of the difficult exemption process, patients often turn to potentially dangerous unregulated suppliers.

At the meeting, TheraPsil also presented an overview of draft regulations proposed to the federal government. The proposed regulations would move psilocybin and psilocin from the restricted drugs list to the controlled drugs list, allowing more people safe access to life-saving psilocybin treatment.

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