From the Desk of Rick Doblin, Ph.D. – Summer 2014

Summer 2014: Vol. 24 No. 2 Research Edition

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This issue of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) Bulletin discusses the steady, hopeful progress that we’ve made recently in our research and educational efforts. Sadly, but also in celebration, this issue contains memorials to three people without whose efforts this progress would not have been possible: Sasha Shulgin, Christina Grof, and Richard Rockefeller.

Sasha played a crucial role in bringing MDMA to the world as a tool to deepen love and acceptance and to promote healing, and was an eloquent advocate for the personal freedom to use psychedelics to explore our inner worlds. Christina helped develop Holotropic Breathwork with her husband, Stanislav Grof, and trained thousands of therapists and others in this stunningly basic and accessible method of breathing, while also being an advocate for people (including herself) struggling to overcome addiction and dependence. Richard built a life and career of compassion and social justice activism, combining the accident of his birth with focus and accomplishments of his own doing. Richard took on as a personal mission opening doors at the U.S. Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs to collaborations with MAPS exploring the therapeutic potential of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in veterans and others suffering from chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Their lives and recent deaths, as well as those of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Stephen Gaskin, and those of many others who were touched by the grace and depth of psychedelics, serve to highlight the transitory nature of our brief existence as individual human beings. Through the way they lived their lives, they taught us all about the joy and meaning that comes from working to help others.

This issue of the Bulletin is being issued in the 28th year of MAPS’ existence. Founded in 1986 primarily to develop MDMA-assisted psychotherapy into a legally available and FDA-approved treatment, MAPS has entered into a phase of growth and maturity that makes the accomplishment of the original core mission increasingly likely. Thousands of people over the years have donated to MAPS and helped us move forward in myriad ways. MAPS has also benefited from the incredible energies of the growing number of people who have worked as MAPS staff in a wide range of capacities. Pooling our resources, work, hopes, and dreams, we’ve made substantial progress together.

MAPS began with a vision of a castle in the air. Since then, we’ve worked persistently and gradually to build foundations to support the castle, making it solid and more than just a beckoning mirage. We currently project the prescription availability of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to take place in 2021, seven years from now around MAPS’ 35th anniversary. Because of our growing belief that we will actually be able to accomplish that objective, MAPS is engaged in a series of discussions with non-profit lawyers and accountants about how best to leverage the prescription use of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and the potential income from the sales of MDMA into a source of support for further research and educational efforts consistent with MAPS’ larger mission. This vision of a sustainable non-profit is the new castle in the air that we’re working to make possible, to provide a flow of resources for continued efforts to develop the healing, therapeutic, and spiritual potential of psychedelics and marijuana.

With the growing social acceptance of marijuana legalization and the understanding of the harms that have been caused by prohibition, MAPS is in a position to contribute to a new cultural relationship with psychedelics and marijuana. We’re working to create a model that is focused on maximizing social benefits over the long term rather than on maximizing income over the short-term. With the continued support of MAPS members and staff, we can use our precious, limited time together to further the goals of those who have labored to bring us to this point, creating lives of satisfaction for ourselves, and meaning for the lives and love of those who come after us.