Eight Canadians have filed a Charter challenge against the Government of Canada and the Minister of Health regarding patient access to psilocybin and psilocybin therapy.
The plaintiffs, which include seven patients and one health-care practitioner, are arguing that the current modes of accessing psilocybin are insufficient and a violation of Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the right to life, liberty and security of the person.
It’s a similar argument to the landmark court case, R v Parker, which led to Canada’s first medical cannabis laws.
The challenge is supported by TheraPsil, a B.C.-based non-profit that has fundraised to cover legal fees and has previously worked with each of the plaintiffs to help them secure legal access to psilocybin, though not always successfully.
“This is the landmark case that is going to legalize psychedelics in Canada,” says TheraPsil’s CEO Spencer Hawkswell.
Hawkswell says they are hoping for a resolution as quickly as possible, ideally within the next month.
“This is about people getting access to their medicine and this is why we’re targeting Jean-Yves Duclos. He’s the one who’s being sued here because he’s the one whose responsibility it is to fix this,” he says.
Hawkswell adds that the previous Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu, who granted the vast majority of exemptions over the past two years, displayed a level of empathy that has been absent under Duclos’ leadership.
“He has not displayed the same level of compassion or courage,” says Hawkswell. “But we’re hoping that we can help him.”
The rules changed with cannabis through the same legal process. Patients are hopeful that they will have access to psilocybin through their legal challenges.
Class action litigation will be a very popular strategy for patients who are being denied access to essential care.