Sask. medical historian sees renewed interest in psychedelic drugs

A medical historian says researchers from all over the world are calling her about 1950s psychedelic drug tests in Weyburn because of a renewed interest in the drugs.

Researchers inquire about 1950s experiments in Sask.

Examining room adjoining the nurses’ station in the new T.B. wing of the hospital, June 1956, the year the term 'psychedelic' was coined. (Saskatchewan Archives R-A 13, 071-2)

In the place where the term 'psychedelic' was coined, a medical historian says she's receiving calls from all over the world, because scientists are once again interested in psychedelic drugs.

University of Saskatchewan medical historian Erika Dyck is an expert on experiments with psychedelic drugs conducted at the Weyburn Mental Hospital in the 1950s.

She says in the last 18 months, different researchers and scientists from around the world have contacted her looking for information about how those drug experiments were conducted.

"I've been phoned for information about the protocols that they were using in the 1950s here in Saskatchewan," Dyck told CBC Saskatchewan's Blue Sky.

Dyck says some of the researchers today are looking at the application of psychedelic drugs in palliative care, including for cancer patients at the end of their lives. She says scientists are also looking at the application of psychedelics into addictions research.

Mark Haden, chair of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies Canada, is one of those researchers.

Haden is looking into the effectiveness of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in post-traumatic stress disorder. MDMA is the active ingredient in ecstasy. He got rare approval from Health Canada to administer the drug in his studies.

"It's the first legal psychedelic that has been given in Canada in 44 years," Haden recently told CBCs The Current. "It's absolutely massive. The scientific community is now ready to take a serious look at these the door is opened."

Haden says the stigma against psychedelics in research circles is starting to lift.

"Now there's an interest and a willingness to just look at the facts."

Did you know the term 'psychedelic' was coined in Saskatchewan? Read here for more.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?