MAPS was created as a non-profit research and educational organization focused on studying psychedelic experiences in the broadest sense of the word psychedelic, which means mind-manifesting. Appropriate topics of study for MAPS-funded research include MDMA, LSD, and marijuana as well as non-drug techniques such as Grof Holotropic breathwork, meditation, and guided imagery.
To date, MAPS’ research budget has been spent almost entirely on MDMA research. This focus on MDMA research will remain MAPS’ primary area of interest for several reasons. Firstly, MDMA is a unique drug that acts fundamentally different, and in some ways fundamentally better, than any currently available medication used in psychiatry or psychotherapy. Secondly, there are currently no other organizations, foundations or pharmaceutical companies directly funding research into MDMA’s therapeutic potential. Third, each study that is completed adds to MAPS’ MDMA Drug Master File at the Food and Drug Administration and brings MAPS closer to securing FDA approval for the prescription availability of MDMA. Fourth, the California Research Advisory Panel has completed their review of the Phase 1 MDMA research protocol submitted by Dr. Charles Groband has requested only one change in the protocol. Subjects in the study will not be permitted to communicate with each other after they have been administered the test drug so as not to create a "contact high" in the placebo subjects.
Though MAPS does not have money in hand for this Phase 1 protocol at this time, or for a subsequent study of MDMA in the treatment of pain and distress in terminal cancer patients, funding is actively being solicited for these projects. MAPS is co-sponsoring with California NORML an historic special benefit event on April 17 in San Francisco in an effort to raise funds for MDMA research.
MAPS has received a grant of $28,000 to study, in Russia, MDMA in the treatment of alcoholism and neurosis. This grant came about largely through the work of Nicholas Saunders, English enterpreneur and author of a book on MDMA, who submitted an application on MAPS’ behalf to the Dartington Hall Trust in London. Conducting MDMA research in Russia has long been a goal of MAPS, both because scarce dollars can be stretched very far in Russia and because Dr. Evgeny Krupitsky of St. Petersburg has the scientific expertise to conduct excellent research that the FDA will accept as valid. Dr. Krupitsky has submitted an application to the Russian Pharmacological Committee to begin research and we are hopeful that permission will be granted in the near future.
MAPS is trying to raise at least $5,000 for Drs. Kurland, Yensen and Dryer’s LSD research project investigating the use of LSD in the treatment of substance abuse (q.v. LSD Research in the 1990’s). To raise these funds, MAPS, the Island Group and UC Santa Cruz student organization Millbrook West are co-sponsoring a benefit event in Santa Cruz, California on April 16th, fifty years to the day that Dr. Albert Hofmann accidentally ingested some LSD he was synthesizing.
MAPS has obtained a pledge of $50,000 for a medical marijuana study from an individual in the Netherlands. For several years, I have thought that the prescription availability of marijuana would not come to pass unless FDA- approved scientific research into marijuana’s medical use was conducted. To this end, I have been working with Dr. Donald Abrams of San Francisco General Hospital to design, fund and obtain FDA approval for a study comparing smoked marijuana with the oral THC pill in the treatment of the HIV-related wasting syndrome. The protocol will be submitted to the FDA and the California Research Advisory Panel around April 15. If all goes well, the study will begin sometime this summer. The April 17 benefit willl raise additional funds for this study.
MAPS is starting to generate a significant budget for research. If this trend continues, the future looks very bright. MAPS’ growing membership base is the key to further progress.