MAPS, in Coordination with Allies, Assists U.S. Sentencing Commission in Reaching Quorum

  • United States Sentencing Commission, which establishes and advises Congress on federal sentencing guidelines, reaches first quorum in 3 years and a full slate for first time since 2014
  • Delayed appointments inhibited implementation of drug sentencing and other reforms to reduce disparities in the federal prison system, including First Step Act of 2018
  • This concluded a year-long bipartisan effort by MAPS to support successful appointments

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) celebrated the appointment of a full slate of Commissioners to the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC). The bipartisan group of seven Commissioners, appointed by President Biden and confirmed by the Senate, allows the USSC to reach quorum and conduct its congressionally mandated activities for the first time since 2019. 

The MAPS Policy and Advocacy team coordinated a bipartisan coalition that met with U.S. Senators and monitored the progress of the confirmation process. Now that the slate is confirmed, MAPS looks forward to an ongoing effort to reduce disparities and penalties for drug charges in the federal criminal justice system. 

“The criminal legal system has unjustly stigmatized and punished individuals for the choices they make about what to put in their own bodies. Meaningful federal sentencing reform must ensure that people are no longer penalized and persecuted for those choices. We will encourage and advocate for the slate of new Commissioners to open up conversations about reducing, and even eliminating, penalties for individuals and communities involved with currently illicit substances.”

Ismail L Ali, J.D., Policy and Advocacy Director, MAPS

The USSC was created in 1984 to reduce sentencing disparities and provide transparency in federal sentencing guidelines, but has been unable to reach a quorum of members due to years-long delays in Presidential appointments and Senate confirmations. Its main focuses include establishing sentencing policies, advising Congress and the executive branch in developing criminal justice policy, and analyzing and distributing information on federal sentencing issues. 

In addition to the clinical research program to make MDMA into an FDA-approved medicine, MAPS was founded to create sensible and compassionate alternatives to the War on Drugs. MAPS has submitted testimony about the sentencing guidelines related to MDMA to the United States Sentencing Commission in furtherance of this goal. 

MAPS will remain engaged with the USSC by encouraging reform to the sentencing guidelines related to MDMA, all psychedelics, and other drugs. Positive outcomes would include public health-related release provisions in the bipartisan sentencing reform package, the commission’s guidance on the First Step Implementation Act of 2021, and passage of the EQUAL Act which would eliminate the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. 


Founded in 1986, MAPS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana. MAPS is sponsoring the most advanced psychedelic therapy research in the world: Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD. MAPS has earned both the Guidestar Platinum Seal of Transparency and a 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator. MAPS is driven by philanthropic donors who have given more than $130 million since MAPS was founded. To make a donation, please visit our website.

Betty Aldworth, Director of Communications, MAPS or
831-429-6362 ext 303