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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

Alberta

Protecting the right to vote for Canadian citizens: Minister McIver

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Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver issued the following statement in response to Calgary City Council’s vote to extend the right to vote to permanent residents:

“Yesterday, Calgary city council passed a motion advocating for permanent residents to be extended the right to vote in civic elections. Alberta’s government has been clear since the beginning: only Canadian citizens are able to vote in civic elections. That will not be changing.

“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms affirms the right of every Canadian citizen to vote and to run as a candidate. This right extends to voters in municipal, provincial and federal elections.

“Protecting our democracy is of the utmost importance. Our provincial election legislation, like the Local Authorities Elections Act, has also been clear since its inception that voting is a right of Canadian citizens.

“Alberta’s government is also ensuring that voting is accessible for more Albertans. The Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act proposes to enable special ballot access for any voter who requests it, without having to provide any specific reason such as physical disability, absence from the municipality or working for the municipal election. The ministries of Seniors, Community and Social Services and Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction are also making it easier for individuals to obtain the identification Albertans need for a variety of services, including the ability to cast a ballot.

“Our government will continue to protect the integrity of our elections and make sure voting is accessible for all Albertans who are Canadian citizens.”

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Alberta

Three Calgary massage parlours linked to human trafficking investigation

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News release from the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT)

ALERT’s Human Trafficking unit has searched and closed three Calgary massage parlours. A year-long investigation has linked the businesses and its owner to suspected human trafficking.

ALERT arrested Hai (Anna) Yan Ye on April 16, 2024 and charged the 48-year-old with advertising sexual services, drug offences and firearms offences. The investigation remains ongoing and further charges are being contemplated.

Ye was linked to three commercial properties and two homes that were allegedly being used for illegal sexual activities and services. The massage parlours were closed following search warrant executions carried out by ALERT, the Calgary Police Service, and the RCMP:

  • Seagull Massage at 1034 8 Avenue SW;
  • 128 Massage at 1935 37 Street SW; and
  • The One Massage Centre at 1919 31 Street SE.
  • 1100-block of Hidden Valley Drive; and
  • 3100-block of 12 Avenue SW.

As result of the search warrants, ALERT also seized:

  • $15,000 in suspected proceeds of crime;
  • Shotgun with ammunition; and
  • Various amounts of drugs.

“We believe that these were immigrants being exploited into the sex trade. This has been a common trend that takes advantage of their unfamiliarity and vulnerability,” said Staff Sergeant Gord MacDonald, ALERT Human Trafficking.

Four suspected victims were identified and provided resources by ALERT’s Safety Network Coordinators.

ALERT’s investigation dates back to February 2023 when a tip was received about suspicious activity taking place at the since-closed Moonlight Massage. That location was closed during the investigation, in December 2023, when the landlord identified illegal suites on the premises.

The investigation involved the close cooperation with City of Calgary Emergency Management and Community Safety, Alberta’s Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) team, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and the RCMP.

Ye was released from custody on a number of court-imposed conditions.

Anyone with information about this investigation, or any case involving suspected human trafficking offences, is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or the Calgary Police Service non-emergency line at 403-266-1234.

ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.

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