CALGARY, Mar. 8, 2021 – ATMA Journey Centers Inc. (“ATMA”), an Alberta-based company focused on delivering innovative psychedelic-assisted therapies internationally, revealed plans today for the second private health and wellness Journey Center in its portfolio that focuses on the healing and transformative power of psychedelic medicine.
The company will own and operate Azul Journey Center on a picturesque ocean front property along the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, placing it within one of the world’s five “Blue Zones” which refer to unique geographic areas where people have lower documented rates of chronic disease and live longer than anywhere else on the planet.
ATMA Azul will provide an immersive experience in which clients will be able to experience a range of healing and transformational modalities as part of multi-day experiences, ceremonies, and retreats. Central to the services provided will be work that features ancient plant medicines such as Ayahuasca, Ibogaine and Huachuma (San Pedro cactus), along with a range of legal psychedelic-assisted therapies and healing modalities.
Vu Tran, Co-CEO of ATMA, said: “Azul Journey Center in Costa Rica marks the next step of our plans to develop a network of international Journey Centers which will allow us to provide safe and comprehensive access to clients seeking mental health and wellness services that are currently unavailable in Canada.”
He explained that while certain psychedelic medicines such as MDMA and psilocybin are the current focus of the psychedelic industry, ATMA believes that incorporating some of the ancient plant medicines that have been used for thousands of years by indigenous cultures is a key element of developing a holistic approach to psychedelic-assisted therapy.
“These are not medicines that you can go to a medical clinic and put under your tongue to have a healing experience in a few hours,” he said. “These are revered traditions that are best practiced in an appropriate natural environment within a traditional ceremony, led by experienced medicine people that have descended from a long lineage of indigenous people working with these special substances.”
ATMA Azul will incorporate a comprehensive protocol that emphasizes safety and security of clients, providing clients full-service week-long programs that include well-appointed accommodations, holistic and organic food prepared by certified chefs, and leading-edge psychedelic medicine therapy and protocols. A curated program developed by ATMA will assist clients in preparing for, experiencing and integrating their deep experiences that will optimize the benefits and long-term changes that often occur with psychedelic-assisted programs.
Added Tran: “As a company, ATMA holds deep respect and reverence for the medicines we work with, and our entire leadership team have experienced the transformative and healing benefits of psychedelic medicine. Since I first sat personally with Ayahuasca four years ago and experienced the profound changes and experiences in my life, it has been a dream of mine that this plant medicine could be made available to anyone who is seeking personal growth and deep, transformative healing.”
Currently, psychedelics are classified as restricted substances in Canada and while Health Canada has recently taken modest steps to slowly begin providing access to legal psychedelic-assisted therapy in Canada, a more urgent response to the mental health crisis in Canada is needed. To date, Health Canada has approved approximately 30 applications from Canadians seeking an exemption to existing legislation that prohibits access or use to psychedelic compounds.
The first exemptions were granted in August 2020 under what is known as a Section 56 Exemption of the Canadian Drugs and Substances Act (“CDSA”), but the overwhelming majority of Canadians in mental health distress are not being provided legal access to psychedelic-assisted therapy which is proving through research to be a compelling alternative or adjunct to traditional mental health approaches and therapies.
David Harder, Co-CEO of ATMA said: “In the last 30 days, we have received hundreds of applications from Canadians across the country seeking our assistance for them to obtain a Section 56 Exemption. They are desperately seeking support with a range of difficult and debilitating mental health conditions, and Health Canada is simply not keeping pace with the demand or the need that Canadians have for help. ATMA Azul will provide clients the ability to pursue healing therapies that are not yet legally accessible in Canada but have thousands of years of traditional use and emerging scientific evidence of their profound ability to assist with these challenging mental health conditions.”
ATMA Azul is planning to begin offering healing and transformative programs and ceremonies in August of this year. The company anticipates significant demand for an approach that provides not only the medicine and therapy that has provide life-changing for many, but the ability to get away from daily life and deeply connect with nature.
Harder added: “With the COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns now extending into a second year, Canadians are feeling trapped and unable to deal with the myriad of mental and emotional challenges that have presented during this pandemic. The existing mental health system is not adapting quickly or effectively enough to deal what is becoming an avalanche of mental and emotional conditions. Our goal is to provide a relief to this pressure, and to assist clients in healing and reconnecting with themselves.”
He emphasizes that ATMA Azul will operate under a comprehensive set of protocols that will optimize the experience and outcomes, while ensuring that safety and security remain a priority for each client. This will include extensive physical and mental health screening processes that the client undergoes prior to a visit to ATMA Azul, and oversight of the medicine work and therapy by both highly experienced medicine workers with decades of experience and highly accredited medical professionals from the Western world.
“We’re on the front lines of the mental health crisis that Canada is facing, and we simply cannot wait until the slow wheels of government create scalable access to psychedelic medicine,” concluded Harder. “The growing research and evidence-based science has become too compelling to ignore. Psychedelic medicine is a key element of how the world is going to respond to the mental and emotional crises we face collectively, and our vision is to bring healing and transformation to Canadians. ATMA Azul will move us one step closer to realizing this important vision.”