Adapting the Safe Consumption Site Model for Patient-Procured MDMA


Adapting the Safe Consumption Site Model for Patient-Procured MDMA

Shannon Dames1; Crosbie Watler2; Kerrie Miller3; Robert W.E. Laurie4; Vivian W.L. Tsang5; Raimey Olthuis6; Pearl Allard7; Elena Argento8: Pam Kryskow9


Increasing demand for access to psychedelic therapy within Western medicine has given rise to a concerning trend in Canada, where individuals are increasingly resorting to self-medication with psychedelic substances or turning to unregulated psychedelic-assisted therapy. Concurrently, there is growing interest in honoring Indigenous ways of knowing and healing, including the traditional use of psychoactive substances. This article highlights the challenges facing those seeking alternative treatments, particularly persons with treatment-resistant conditions. The risks associated with unregulated practices are defined, including the prevalence of tainted drug supplies and the lack of protective measures, which pose significant threats to vulnerable populations. In a landscape where regulated care remains out of reach for many, the criminalized market catering to treatment-resistant individuals continues to expand. Healthcare providers, motivated by an ethical commitment to culturally inclusive care and enhancing access to promising therapeutic solutions, increasingly find themselves navigating the underground terrain. Informed by established safe consumption sites designed to mitigate overdose risks, this article presents an adapted harm reduction approach tailored for psychedelics, with a focus on supporting safe MDMA consumption. This innovative approach offers support to persons who have self-procured psychedelic substances for mental health indications, or for those who feel these medicines might offer benefits beyond the treatment of a defined mental disorder. This model incorporates the essential safety standards for those exploring alternative mental health treatments, laying the scientific and legal groundwork for a comprehensive harm reduction and wellness strategy.

Keywords: MDMA; Psychedelic; Harm Reduction; Mental Health Crises; Safe Consumption; Drug Testing

Author(s) Affiliations:

  1. RN MPH EdD [Resilience], Roots to Thrive Society for Psychedelic Therapy (RTT), Vancouver Island University (VIU);
  2. MD FRCPC [Psychiatrist], RTT, VIU, University of British Columbia (UBC)
  4. Barrister and Solicitor, Ad Lucem Law Corporation
  5. MPH MD [UBC psychiatry resident; VIU PaT Postdoctoral Research], RTT
  6. PhD [Medical Sciences], VIU
  7. RN, VIU
  8. PhD [UBC PaT Postdoctoral Research], RTT
  9. MD [PaT expert], RTT, VIU, UBC

Contributors: Todd Haspect (Registered Therapist); Wes Taylor (Program Development); Renae Wheatley (Registered Therapist and Law Enforcement)

Author Contact:

Cite: Dames, Shannon et al (2023). Adapting the Safe Consumption Site Model for Patient-Procured MDMA. Canadian Health Policy, OCT 2023. |

Disclosure: No conflicts declared by authors.

Open Access: Not sponsored.

Status: Peer reviewed. Submitted: 23 AUG 2023. Published: 26 OCT 2023.

[This article was updated to correct a minor typographical error on 27 NOV 2023.]