In recent years, more people have been interested in microdosing psychedelics as a way to improve their mental well-being. Canada’s relationship with microdosing has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the 1920s.
As we dive into the history of microdosing in Canada, we embark on an enthralling journey filled with scientific intrigue, cultural shifts, and the pursuit of enhanced consciousness. Canada’s relationship with microdosing has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the 1920s.
From those early days to its current renaissance, this journey unveils the transformative power of psychedelic substances and the shifting perceptions surrounding their potential benefits.
Let’s find out more!
History of Microdosing
The history of microdosing is a fascinating journey spanning millions of years, from ancient practices of animals getting high on psychoactive substances to the potential role of microdosing in the development of the human brain.
Animals have been observed participating in clinical trials that suggest they seek psychoactive experiences. This implies that they have an innate desire for altered states of consciousness.
Origin of Microdosing
The origin of microdosing can be traced back to the ancient practices observed in the animal kingdom. Animals, including dogs, dolphins, and reindeer, have been known to seek out psychoactive substances, suggesting an innate inclination towards altered states of consciousness.
Shamans, revered figures in these cultures, incorporated microdosing into their practices to facilitate healing and spiritual experiences.
These substances are believed to have survival advantages at lower doses, heightening alertness and sensory perception. This aligns with the reported benefits of microdosing in humans, where it is thought to enhance cognitive function and unlock new behaviour patterns.
Furthermore, Terence McKenna’s controversial “Stoned Ape Hypothesis” proposes that psychedelic microdosing played a crucial role in the evolution of human brains.
According to this theory, our early ancestors consumed magic mushrooms for their sense-enhancing effects, eventually leading to mind-expanding psychedelic experiences. These experiences are believed to have facilitated the development of language, art, creativity, and culture.
While the concrete evidence for this hypothesis is yet to be discovered, it sparks intriguing discussions about the potential influence of microdosing on human evolution.
In more recent times, microdosing has gained attention for its potential therapeutic benefits and has experienced a resurgence in interest. Indigenous cultures across the globe recognized the transformative properties of psychedelic substances, utilizing them for medicinal and spiritual purposes.
In the early 20th century when, Canadian doctors began experimenting with microdosing as a means to address medical conditions and mitigate unwanted effects. These early endeavours laid the groundwork for scientific exploration and understanding of microdosing.
The psychedelic revolution of the 1960s and 1970s further propelled the interest in microdosing. As part of the countercultural movement, individuals sought alternative means of expanding consciousness and exploring spirituality. Microdosing became intertwined with the exploration of altered states of mind, creativity, and personal growth.
Clinical trials have been conducted to investigate the benefits of microdosing psychedelics, such as LSD and psilocybin, in treating conditions like depression and anxiety disorders.
These studies aim to harness the cognitive and emotional benefits of microdosing while ensuring safe and responsible use.
Today, microdosing continues to evolve as a subject of scientific research, self-exploration, and personal experimentation. With an increasing understanding of its potential benefits, microdosing holds promise as a tool for enhancing well-being, fostering creativity, and promoting psychological growth.
However, it is crucial to approach microdosing with respect, caution, and informed guidance to ensure its safe and responsible use in contemporary contexts.
Who invented the modern microdose?
Albert Hoffman, the man credited with discovering LSD, is said to have pioneered the practice of microdosing by using subthreshold dosages for therapeutic purposes.
Despite the fact that psychoactive substances were illegal at the time, psychologist James Fadiman created a methodology in the 1960s to gather reports of microdosing. Over the course of four decades, Fadiman collected testimonies from people who claimed to have benefited from microdosing different chemicals in terms of increased concentration, creativity, optimism, and vigilance.
Paul Stamets is a respected mycologist, inventor, and author known for his work with fungi. He introduced the Stamets Stack, a microdosing composition that combines psilocybin, Lion’s Mane mushroom, and niacin.
There were skeptics of the placebo effect, but by the middle of the 2010s, microdosing had entered the mainstream, prompting more investigation into its efficacy. Researchers and people interested in self-improvement find microdosing interesting because of its positive effects on cognition and happiness.
How did microdosing get so popular?
Microdosing gained popularity due to a combination of factors. In 2018, rumours about Elon Musk microdosing LSD went viral, sparking interest in the practice.
Media coverage in publications like Rolling Stone and Los Angeles Magazine highlighted microdosing in boardrooms and tech companies in California. Anonymous executives claimed that microdosing with substances like psilocybin, cannabis, MDMA, or ayahuasca improved productivity and happiness.
Recent research supported these claims, showing that microdoses of psilocybin and LSD can enhance creativity, mood, and focus. Cannabis microdosing also demonstrated benefits for pain relief and symptoms of PTSD.
Microdosing offers a subtle uplift in mood and increased focus. Its popularity can be attributed to viral rumours, media coverage, influential cultural hubs, and scientific studies validating its potential benefits.
Psychedelics in Canada
Recent updates in the Canadian psychedelics landscape have seen significant developments in the regulation and accessibility of psychedelics for therapeutic purposes.
Health Canada has been granting exemptions through Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, allowing individuals or classes of people to access psychedelics for medical or scientific purposes. British Columbia received a province-wide Section 56 exemption, permitting the possession of opioids, methamphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA without criminal charges.
The City of Toronto has also applied for a similar exemption, awaiting a response from Health Canada. Clinical trials involving psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy require a Section 56 exemption, and Health Canada has issued risk-management measures for such trials.
Amendments to the Special Access Program have restored healthcare professionals’ ability to request access to psychedelics for patients with serious or life-threatening conditions.
However, challenges to accessibility persist, with a legal challenge filed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to increase access to psilocybin and psilocybin therapy. Alberta became the first Canadian jurisdiction to regulate psychedelic-assisted therapy, implementing a framework for licensing healthcare providers in this field.
In Québec, medical doctors successfully billed the province for the costs of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, leading to the recognition of the treatment as a medically insured service.
These developments highlight the growing recognition of the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelics in Canada, with ongoing regulatory changes and legal efforts shaping the future of the industry.
Psychedelics in America
In the 1960s, the American counterculture faced a political backlash, leading to the infamous ‘War on Drugs’ launched by President Nixon. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified substances like psilocybin, LSD, and DMT as prohibited.
These substances regulations expanded internationally and continue to evolve, with some psychedelics now classified as controlled substances. This has influenced the emergence of microdosing practices, particularly with LSD.
The War on Drugs has had a lasting impact on the availability and use of psychedelics and shaped the development of microdosing.
Psychedelic Therapy, Research, and Mental Health Canada
Mental health is a prevalent issue in Canada, with 1 in 5 people expected to experience a mental health problem in their lifetime, as reported by the Canadian Mental Health Association. Stress is a common factor affecting Canadians, with 20% of individuals aged 15 and over-reporting significant stress levels in the previous month.
Prolonged stress can have adverse effects on both physical and mental well-being. In addition to stress, there are various mental health problems prevalent in Canada, including anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and substance use disorders.
These conditions can range in severity and significantly impact a person’s functioning in various areas of life. However, despite the prevalence of mental health issues, only 1 in 3 individuals with mental illness receive professional treatment, leaving a significant portion of the population without the help they need.
In recent times, microdosing with psychedelic substances, particularly LSD and psilocybin therapy, has gained popularity as potential approaches for addressing mental health challenges.
Health Canada’s Requirements for Psilocybin Mushroom Clinical Trials
Health Canada has issued a notice emphasizing the importance of substance quality and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for clinical trials involving psilocybin mushrooms.
While there is limited evidence supporting the therapeutic benefits of mushrooms compared to purified or synthetic psilocybin, Health Canada acknowledges the challenges of ensuring consistent dosing and quality in mushroom-based treatments.
Clinical trials must use GMP-compliant drugs, and sponsors should provide evidence of accurate dosing and safety. The SAP requires sufficient evidence for the therapeutic use of psilocybin mushrooms, and manufacturers must adhere to GMP principles.
Health Canada remains open to evidence demonstrating GMP-compliant mushrooms meeting quality requirements and clinical efficacy standards.
Current State of Psychedelics in Canada
In Canada, psychedelics like psilocybin (magic mushrooms) remain illegal federally, but some cities have decriminalized possession.
Alberta regulates medicinal use but with restrictions. Access is primarily through clinical trials or exemptions. Clinical trials for psilocybin and MDMA are ongoing. The psychedelics market interest has cooled since 2021 due to regulatory factors.
Canadian companies advocate for legalization and access. Overall, Canada shows a shifting landscape toward potential legalization and increased medical access to psychedelics.
Future of Psychedelics in Canada
The “psychedelic renaissance” in Canada refers to the growing interest in the therapeutic and spiritual potential of psychedelics. Efforts to decriminalize these substances have been made, but the Canadian government has stated that no changes to current legislation are necessary.
Psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin have shown promise in treating mental health conditions, leading to the emergence of psychedelics biotech companies. However, the future of the psychedelic renaissance in Canada remains uncertain.
Psychedelics are currently controlled substances, but exemptions can be granted for scientific or public interest purposes. Access to exemptions is limited, and proposals for legalizing medical psilocybin and expanding access through the Special Access Program are being considered.
Recreational legalization of psychedelics is not expected in the near future, as the government is likely to proceed cautiously. Concerns about risks and the need for guidelines and training standards have been raised.
Read more about the benefits of psychedelic-assisted therapy here: Benefits of Psychedelics
In conclusion, microdosing is a recent practice that gained popularity with James Fadiman’s book. While traditional cultures have used low doses of psychedelics, modern microdosing emerged alongside scientific research on higher doses.
Limited research suggests potential benefits in mood, creativity, cognition, and well-being. However, the safety and long-term effects of microdosing remain uncertain. Further investigation is needed to understand its effects, mechanisms, and risks.