Alberta to regulate therapeutic use of psychedelics for mental-health issues

Alberta announcing they are the first province to regulate who can prescribe psychedelic drugs for therapeutic use Wednesday, as well as a framework for prescribing opioids for hard to treat addictions.

From psilocybin to ketamine to LSD, doctors in Alberta have a new framework to prescribe psychedelics to treat certain mental-health disorders.

As researchers continue to explore the effectiveness of these otherwise illegal drugs in a controlled setting, Alberta will become the first province to regulate their therapeutic use for things like post-traumatic stress disorder or treatment-resistant depression.

“Under what we’ve put together here, this is protecting individuals from unregulated individuals providing non-evidence-based therapies,” said Dr. Robert Tanguay with Alberta Health Services.

“We want to make sure that those individuals who are accessing this kind of treatment know it’s going to be safe.”


Wednesday the province rolled out a long list of changes to drug addiction and pain management treatments.

“To help people who are drowning in the river of opioids that exists in this province and in our country and in North America,” said Dr. Nathanial Day with AHS. “While we do everything we can to support people, we also need to make sure that we’re not inadvertently welcoming more people to swim in that river.”

On the opioid crisis, a framework for doctors to prescribe highly potent opioids to be used in a controlled setting to gradually reduce the dose for those with the most severe forms of addiction.

“The first time an entire province has an accessibility to a narcotic that may help stabilize them, an opioid may change their life,” said Tanguay. “Unlike people having to go to a certain city to find a certain clinic at a certain block and hope that they can get in.”

The goal would be to transition patients to other treatments and would be province wide, but only within Alberta Health Services, meaning family doctors can no longer prescribe for high-risk patients.

“They then begin on a path, a journey, so that when they exit the system, they’re in a better place than what they were before,” said Mike Ellis, associate minister of mental health and addictions.

Ellis stresses this is separate from those with pain management who require opioids for treatments.

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