Senator Larry Campbell, who struggles with depression, PTSD, and "getting old," reveals that psilocybin microdoses helped improve his mood.
“This is the first time I’ve admitted this,” teased Senator Larry Campbell of his unexpected psilocybin experience while speaking at the opening ceremonies of the Catalyst Psychedelics Summit in Kingston, Ontario.
The 74-year-old politician had so far used his speech to tout the many accomplishments he had contributed to in the realm of drug reform, both as a former Mayor of Vancouver and a member of the Canadian Senate.
But then, the Honourable Larry Campbell took a turn to the personal.
He opened up and discussed how he had the unholy trio of depression, PTSD, and he was “getting old.” As such, in his later years, Campbell found himself becoming ever more grumpy. Despite recognizing this, he struggled to change it.
Campbell had been on antidepressants for at least two decades, and though they must have helped somewhat—why else continue to take them?–they obviously were not doing a perfect job of alleviating his depression.
But then, during the pandemic, something amazing happened: Larry Campbell realized that he was feeling better than he had in a long time. But despite recognizing his improved mood, he could not figure out the cause. Finally, after a couple of weeks, he brought it up with his wife.
That’s when she admitted it: She had been “spiking his coffee with psilocybin” for the last two weeks!
Despite not knowing it, the Senator had been microdosing psilocybin for weeks, and it was working. And while this is only an anecdotal story, the fact that he did not know that he was microdosing but he still registered an improved mood is important. It means that it could not have been the placebo effect.
Leaving the potential ethical question of a wife dosing her spouse unknowingly with sub-perceptual doses of psilocybin aside, the fact that a member of the Canadian Senate is now openly discussing how microdosing helped his struggle against depression is important.
The Canadian state is currently debating how to proceed with the advent of psychedelic medicines. Recently, it has allowed several depression patients to use psilocybin therapy under an experimental avenue called the Special Access Program. Basically, this allows patients to try a medicine that is not legal in Canada when there is some evidence to support its use and they had previously tried multiple legal therapies which did not work.
And while this and other steps make Canada a world leader in advancing psychedelic research, the legal framework through which psychedelic medicines may operate is still being paved. Having a voice in the “chamber of sober second thought,” who can speak from personal experience, will be a big aid in getting his colleagues to consider further ending the war on drugs.
While Canada is waiting for the results of clinical trials to legalize any large-scale use of psychedelic medicines—which of course is the right move—there are many other steps that can be taken in the meantime.
For example, psilocybin can be decriminalized, and the criminal records of those convicted for possession of the illegal compound can be wiped. Currently, the NDP, whose support of the minority Liberal Party of Justin Trudeau relies upon to keep their government from falling and fresh elections being held, is calling for all drugs to be decriminalized. Perhaps with this veteran voice in the Senate discussing his own personal psilocybin stories, Parliament could consider a watered-down version of this that decriminalizes psilocybin and perhaps several other psychedelics.
Either way, it is extremely exciting to see a Senator opening up about his psilocybin use, even if he took it unwittingly. Hopefully, this will open the doors for other influential people, both inside the government and outside it, to follow his lead and tell the stories that need to be told.