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Alberta to support psychedelic therapies for mental health treatment

Dr. Rob Tanguay says new regulations on psychedelic-assisted therapies will protect patients from medically-unproven or unsafe treatments. (Source: Government of Alberta) Dr. Rob Tanguay says new regulations on psychedelic-assisted therapies will protect patients from medically-unproven or unsafe treatments. (Source: Government of Alberta)
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The Alberta government says it is set to become the first province in Canada to regulate psychedelic therapies for mental health disorders.

A new amendment was announced Wednesday to the Mental Health Services Protection Regulation, an existing regulation governing supervised consumption service providers, which would bring psychedelic therapies under control of the Alberta government.

The amendment is designed to protect patients, said Mike Ellis, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. He added that the mind-altering properties of psychedelics can put patients in a vulnerable state and regulation will act as a safeguard.

Under the new guidelines, clinics offering psychedelic-assisted treatment in Alberta must have a licence and operate under the medical oversight of a psychiatrist. Any patients undergoing treatment that would alter their state of mind will need to be monitored by a health professional.

Licencing requirements will vary depending on the level of risk with a particular therapy, dosage and whether the treatment involves psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.

Psychedelic drugs include LSD, ketamine, mescaline, psilocybin and MDMA. The incoming regulation would not affect clinical research or apply to psychedelics prescribed for non-mental health disorders, such as pain management or cancer.

Mike Ellis said research on psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy shows promise in treating a range of mental health conditions, including PTSD and treatment-resistant depression.

"I think that this is one of our futures," said Dr. Rob Tanguay with Alberta Health Services. "This is something that psychiatry has needed for a long time, is a new way of supporting and helping all those people who are affected by a mental health disorder, such as mood, anxiety and PTSD."

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