What happens when cannabis farmers begin growing psilocybin? That’s not the set-up of a joke. That’s a serious question.
British Columbia‘s craft cannabis farmers, patient advocates, and psilocybin aficionados met in Duncan, B.C., this past June to discuss the answer to that question.
TheraPsil, a non-profit that advocates for psilocybin therapy, hosted the event alongside the B.C. Craft Farmers Co-op.
When Cannabis Farmers Grow Psilocybin
Illegal or not, B.C.’s craft cannabis farmers are ready to grow psilocybin.
Albert Eppinga, an Indigenous cannabis farmer, is also co-founder of Shaman Psychedelics. This Indigenous-owned company received a Health Canada exemption that allows them to cultivate and sell psilocybin mushrooms.
Jim Doswell is another B.C. resident granted the psychedelic exemption. He said the process to gain his exemption was lengthy, taking six months in total. And the process isn’t easy. Some applications aren’t approved.
At the event, TheraPsil presented an overview of draft regulations they’d like to see the federal government adopt.
Their proposed regulations would remove psilocybin from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. It would effectively put psilocybin medicine in the hands of more Canadians.
It would allow all cannabis farmers to grow psilocybin mushrooms. This initiative is precisely what the federal government should be doing. But will they?
Psilocybin Legal Status and Exemptions
Psilocybin is illegal in Canada. However, so was cannabis once a time. And that never stopped B.C.’s craft cannabis farmers from growing cannabis or psilocybin.
In 2021, the federal Health Minister granted legal psilocybin exemptions for specific individuals.
Earlier this year, with an amendment to federal food and drug regulations, physicians can now request access to restricted drugs on behalf of their patients. This has always been the case with Health Canada’s Special Access Program, but now psychedelics are included, whereas before, they were deemed to have no medical benefit.
The federal government also decriminalized certain drugs in B.C. this past spring. But psilocybin mushrooms were not on the list. Interestingly, crack cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and meth were on that list.
One has to wonder how:
a) It is essentially legal in British Columbia to shoot heroin in your veins, clog up the health care system with a fentanyl overdose, and do a bump of coke while you’re at it. But expanding your consciousness with a mushroom that grows naturally on the coast is still illegal.
b) That the federal Health Minister can tell some Canadians that they’re free to possess psilocybin, but for other Canadians, the same action will land them in jail.
When Some Cannabis Farmers Grow Psilocybin But Others Can’t
This legal exemption for some but not all undermines the principle of equality under the law.
Suppose one has a history of violence using psilocybin (a laughable assumption, but bear with me). In that case, our rule of law allows that person to be barred from possession possibly.
Just like we make routine drunk drivers blow into a device before their car starts (or take away their licence to drive altogether).
But to say it’s okay for some but not others without any justification beyond “public health” or correcting some historical injustice is nonsensical.
The federal Health Minister’s exemptions are another example of how this current Liberal government has no understanding or respect for the nation’s Western legal traditions.
Whether it’s “good” discrimination or bad, everyone should have the right to consume psilocybin mushrooms.