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“Years in the Making” – The First Legal Psychedelic Assisted Therapy Treatment Conducted in Calgary

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Poor mental health among Canadians is still rampant across the country. The traditional means to treat the various issues many suffer from have only offered ways to manage and mitigate symptoms with long-term dosing. Now in the beginning months of 2021, with a large majority of society isolating in their homes both with and without family members around them, mental health across the board continues to be a growing issue. 

To offer some pretext into the world of science-driven research on psychedelics, one can argue that the first legal study of assisted psychedelic therapy conducted at John Hopkins University back in 2000, lead by head researcher Roland Griffiths was the first credible research in thirty years. It investigated the benefits of using psilocybin, an active hallucinogenic found in ‘magic mushrooms’, in assisted therapeutic sessions. The results of this study were published in July of 2006, referred to as a landmark study that alone opened the door to similar studies to capture legal status with confidence in this treatment method. 

As mentioned by clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson whilst speaking about this study passing regulatory and ethics committees, stated “I think its a testament to Griffiths stature as a researcher that it was allowable ”. In regards to public opinion about this study, the message that may prove to be a priority in the near future is that these studies are based on open science, with participants, staff and community observers reviewing the post-therapy session results and each study bears witness to a rigorous review process by health professionals. 

There have been multiple legal studies granted throughout the US and Europe over the last decade. Other non-profits in Canada have assisted in exemption applications for the use of psychedelics, such as the first four palliative patients in Canada to be approved to use psilocybin in British Columbia, the ongoing study of MDMA assisted therapy in Vancouver to treat PTSD and the continued research of ketamine for therapeutic uses in Montreal, to name a few. The University of Toronto was the first Canadian educational institution to be granted legal permission in collaboration with Toronto Centre for Psychedelic Science (TCPS), and Cybin Corp to study these chemicals further for various treatment methods. 

And here we are, with an important distinction for Albertans.

Released through Newswire on December 30th, the ATMA Journeys Centre, in collaboration with the SYNTAC Institute was the first private company in Alberta to be granted legal permission under a recent ‘Health Canada Section 56 Exemption’ to provide psychedelic-assisted therapy treatment to one candidate. Noted by David Harder, Co-CEO of ATMA and Executive Director of SYNTAC Institute,

 “This first successful treatment has been years in the making. The expansion of ATMA Journey Centers will create the ability for psychedelic-assisted therapy to be made accessible to thousands of Canadians as the government continues to acknowledge and support the evidence-based science and real-life outcomes that are arising from this approach.”

The results from the first treatment are referred to as blowing past expectations for this one candidate. For the unaware, psychedelics have been proven in multiple studies to have substantial benefits for individuals who require palliative care, suffering from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. However, more substantiated data has been with individuals who have been given a life-threatening diagnosis. Where psychedelics cannot cure disease, it can offer these individuals a way to manage their thoughts and emotions during the most difficult time for any individual. 

The results from the first-ever Canadian candidate who was given a terminal cancer diagnosis experienced a transformed outlook on his situation. The initial psychedelic-assisted treatment was conducted on Friday, Jan 1st, 2021 and preliminary outcomes have been noted as ‘extremely positive’. 

According to Mr. White, the first candidate accepted in the study had endured 3 years of cancer treatments. After his initial psychedelic experience, he mentions,

“I would say that 50% of the extreme anxiety and depression I have been feeling just disappeared immediately. I suddenly feel at peace within, and for the first time in years, I feel physically and mentally relaxed.”

The press release included some remarks from Mr. White’s family and partner, who themselves saw a transformation in his mind towards his current situation. His partner Rebecca states,

 “It’s as if something has completely flipped a switch,” she mentions, “We are absolutely gobsmacked at the impact that a single therapeutic psilocybin journey has had thus far.” 

She continues, “[Mr. White] is able to be more present than he has been in almost three years, telling me he loves me and being loving with our dogs. He is suddenly smiling, happy and carefree. I feel like I have my partner back”. 

None of this would have been possible without the hard work from both teams at ATMA Journeys Centre and the SYNTAC Institute. Greg Habstritt, the president of ATMA and communications director for the SYNTAC Insitute, speaks upon the work of his colleagues, Health Canada, and what this could mean for countless Canadians.

“Canada is emerging as a global leader in responding to the tsunami of mental and emotional health issues individuals are facing. This is an imminent crisis that faces not just our country but the global population, and we’re optimistic that Health Canada will continue to lead the way with legislative and regulatory changes that bring comfort and relief to many more Canadians.”

We are still in the early stages of understanding psychedelics. It is challenging to condense all of the research studies conducted over the past 20 years. For decades, psychedelics have held a societal perception that has been perceived to be subhuman, a detriment to human health and as addictive as other class A street drugs, such as cocaine. 

According to a number of respected scientists and New York Times best selling author, ‘psychonaut’ Michael Pollan, this is inherently false. We as humans fear what we do not understand, and we can now move into a broader understanding of the seeming ‘magical’ benefits of psychedelics to mental health, managing life-threatening diagnoses and expanding our understanding of consciousness.  

 

About the ATMA Journeys Centers Inc.

ATMA is a Canadian company focused on delivering effective and innovative healing and transformative experiences that leverage the potential of psychedelic medicine to awaken the inner healer and allow a deeper connection with self, with others and with the beauty of our world.  For more information, visit www.atmajourney.com.

 

About the Syntac Insititute

SYNTAC Institute is a non-profit organization located in Calgary, Alberta with a mission to bring the healing and transformative power of psychedelic medicine and psychedelic-assisted therapy to Canadians. SYNTAC has been a leader in building the psychedelic community in Canada, including ongoing monthly discussions and the Catalyst Psychedelic Conference. For more information, visit www.syntacinstitute.com.

 

[Quotes are cited from two releases published on December 30th and January 1st through Newswire.]

 

 

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary

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Alberta

Calgary man faces 17 charges for alleged domestic abuse of multiple partners

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CALGARY — Police in Calgary have laid 17 domestic-violence-related charges against a man involved with multiple partners over a 10-year period.

Investigators say a woman came forward in May to report serious violence from a previous relationship.

Police say she provided the names of two other women, who she believed had also been abused by the same man.

It is alleged the accused physically and sexually assaulted the women during those relationships.

Police say the violence was substantial and led to permanent physical ailments.

Daniel Walders, who is 39, has been charged with 11 counts of assault, four counts of sexual assault and two of uttering threats.

“The level of violence exhibited by the alleged offender is significant,” said Staff Sgt. Vince Hancott with the Calgary Police Service’s domestic conflict unit.

“Alberta has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Canada, but help is available.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

City council votes to repeal masking bylaw ahead of Calgary Stampede

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CALGARY — City council in Calgary has voted to repeal its masking bylaw, days before the start of the Stampede.

The provincial government lifted most public health restrictions onThursday, but Calgary left its masking bylaw in place until today.

Calgarians will no longer be required to wear face coverings indoors, except in city-owned spaces and vehicles, including public transit.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says masks will be required in those areas until the office of the city manager lifts the restriction.

Nenshi, saying it is time people learn to live safely without restrictions, was one of 10 members of council who voted to repeal the bylaw..

Four councillors voted to keep it.

The chief medical officer of health, as well as city health officials, are still recommending the use of masks, but fines can no longer be issued, and it’s not part of provincial or municipal legislation.

The Canadian Press

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