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New $312-million Legion Veterans Village in Surrey will include psychadelic plant research centre

The village has teamed up with Knowde Group, a research group that manages clinical trials into plant-based therapeutics and psychedelics such as cannabis, psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and MDMA (ecstasy.)

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Surrey will soon be home to a research centre that brings together experts in medical cannabis and psychedelics to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

When complete in 2022, the $312-million Legion Veterans Village on 135A Street will be home to Canada’s first Centre of Clinical Excellence for veterans and first responders with PTSD.

The village has teamed up with Knowde Group Inc., a research group that manages clinical trials into plant-based therapeutics and psychedelics such as cannabis, psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and MDMA (ecstasy).

“It’s very interesting that this area of psychedelics research has emerged so quickly,” said Rowena Rizzotti, vice-president of health care and innovations and project lead for Legion Veterans Village, on Saturday.

“The area of psychedelics was not what we were initially focused on. We were looking more at the technologies, neuro-related intervention, and then over the last five years we have seen this huge rapid emergence of science around psychedelics and other progressive plant-based therapeutics.”


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The 7,000-square-foot centre of excellence will include a number of mixed medical clinics as well as integrated research in several different areas of clinical intervention for PTSD, including robotics and neuroscience, as well as the plant-based therapeutics.

“Some of it will be looking at medical cannabis but also psychedelics and the significant impact some of these are having on PTSD and mental health,” said Rizzotti.

Even though the building hasn’t been completed, Rizzotti said they have already started doing some of the research off site. For example, researchers will look at different populations such as veterans or first responders who are suffering from PTSD and then test different therapies such as psilocybin, micro-dosing MDMA and ketamine, and determine how effective they are as a treatment.


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“We need more studies in order to give clinicians the evidence they need to support this as a therapeutic alternative,” said Rizzotti.

Eventually the centre will open for treatment to the public once clinical trials meet with regulatory approval.

Knowde Group Inc. CEO Jaspreet Grewal says their clinical research and medical backgrounds coupled with their knowledge of the medical cannabis and psychedelics industry provide them with unique expertise in the field.

“We are hyper-focused on advancing the pharmaceutical potential of plant-based and progressive therapeutics,” said Grewal.

Health Canada granted several Canadians coping with end-of-life anxiety exceptions last year to experience a legal trip on psilocybin. They were the first to legally consume the drug since it was banned in the 1970s.


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There have been several studies over the past few years that have shown remarkable success using psychedelics to help people with severe trauma.

For example, an international study, which involved UBC researchers, helped more than half of the study participants with PTSD see substantial improvements with MDMA over conventional treatment.

Construction of the Legion Veterans Village began in 2019, led by the Whalley Legion, the B.C./Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion and the Lark Group.

In addition to the centre of excellence, the project also includes a mix of 496 market housing condominiums, 91 affordable housing units, an Innovation Centre for Rehabilitation and a new location for the Whalley Legion Branch 229.


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