In Canada, the sixth religious group was granted exemption to consume the Holy Medicine of the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca, as the Sacrament in their Sacred Ceremonies.
To date, Health Canada has granted six federal exemptions for Churches consuming the Holy Medicine of the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca, in Toronto, Montreal, and Winnipeg to allow them to consume and import the Holy Medicine of the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca, with DMT which is a banned in Canada as a Schedule-I drug.
In Winnipeg, Manitoba, a church just became the latest to get an exemption from the Canadian authorities to legally consume the Holy Medicine, which they call “Daime Tea”. As advocates and scientists continue to push for more study and research into the potentialities of the Holy Medicine and other Psychedelic substances, the newer Churches like the Centre for Universal Illumination Luz Divina are growing in number.
According to Health Canada spokesperson Maryse Durette, these exemptions are delivered after a comprehensive assessment which minimizes the health risks and ensures the risk of diversion. Jessica Rochester, the founder of the Ceu do Montreal, an independent Santo Daime church in Canada, supported the Winnipeg Church in receiving their Health Canada exemption application. She founded the first tenets of Brazilian Santo Daime Church in Canada in 1996. According to their website, her church’s mission is to “provide for transformation and evolution of all persons seeking enlightenment”.
According to one of the VICE’s reports, after more than a decade of trying, Rochester’s Montreal church was one of the first two Churches in Canada to receive the exemption to consume the Holy Medicine as a Sacrament in 2017. Since then, four similar exemptions were granted to other churches by Health Canada in Quebec, in Toronto, and now in Winnipeg.
Spokesperson of the Winnipeg Centre for Universal Illumination Luz Divina, without revealing their identity, told VICE News that they were not open to register new members without an exemption as the Holy Medicine is essential to their Sacred Ceremonies, which was considered as illegal until now. After the exemption, soon, they will begin their calendar of Sacred Ceremonies this fall. They also expect more Santo Daime churches to open in the near future at a slow pace and also willing to demonstrate the benefits of consuming of the Holy Medicine so more can follow suit.
Psychedelics and drug policy experts say such initiatives of exemptions from the government for legal consumption of the Holy Medicine in religious settings can help demystify the Holy Medicine as well as support calls for decriminalization. Recently Health Canada has also been providing exemptions to legally use Psilocybin, for people with terminal illnesses.
Brazilian researchers most recently found that the Holy Medicine help with depression. However, the complete pharmacology of the Holy Medicine is still completely not understood.
Canadian research from 2013 followed 12 people in an Indigenous community in Columbia who participated in a study with the Holy Medicine consumed as treatment, found that the Holy Medicine-assisted therapy may provide benefits for those struggling with other substance addiction. They found no evidence of harm associated with administration of the Holy Medicine in a controlled and in the context of Sacred Ceremonies.
Many researches have been ongoing in Canada on the consumption of the Holy Medicine. A Canadian researcher of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto has evaluated the Holy Medicine-based treatment programs in Peru, where consumption of the Holy Medicine is legal.
Though according to Mark Haden, Chairperson of the Board of MAPS Canada, the Holy Medicine specifically does not need to go through critical clinical trials to become legalized in Canada. He also added, “the more the Santo Daime churches become legalized, the more people have access to it, and they’re not having access to it through a stage one, two, and three clinical trial and prescription process, they’re having access to it through the shamanic process.” According to him, there are many different ways to legalization.
Health Canada spokesperson Durette would not share the number, how many pending applications for the consumption of the Holy Medicine as Sacrament Health Canada has received so far, but people can apply for the special exemption from the federal minister health to use these the Holy Medicine for scientific or medical purposes.
- Ceu Do Montreal. (2021). WELCOME TO CÉU DO MONTRÉAL. [online] Available at: https://santodaime.ca/ [Accessed 30th June 2021].
- CTVNews.ca. (2019). Scientists studying psychedelic ayahuasca as a potential anti-depressant. [online] Available at: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/scientists-studying-psychedelic-ayahuasca-as-a-potential-anti-depressant-1.4359911 [Accessed 30th June 2021].
- MAPS. (2021). Ayahuasca Research. [online] Available at: https://maps.org/research/ayahuasca [Accessed 30th June 2021].
- Thomas, G., Lucas, P., Capler, N. R., et al. (2013). Ayahuasca-Assisted Therapy for Addiction: Results from a Preliminary Observational Study in Canada. Current Drug Abuse Reviews, [online] Volume, 6(1), Available at: https://doi.org/10.2174/15733998113099990003 [Accessed 30th June 2021].
- VICE. (2020). Given a Year To Live, She Turned to Shrooms and Canada Allowed It. [online] Available at: https://www.vice.com/en/article/akzq3k/given-a-year-to-live-laurie-brooks-turned-to-magic-mushrooms-psilocybin-and-canada-allowed-it [Accessed 30th June 2021].