President’s Review: Autumn 1996: An Invitation for Dialogue

Autumn 1996 Vol. 06, No. 4 An Invitation for Dialogue

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The essential need for an organization such as MAPS has been made abundantly evident as the result of several recent disappointments. Three grant applications for National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for psychedelic and marijuana research were rejected this summer, as was one foundation grant application. Given the lack of more traditional sources of funding, supporters of research into the medical use of psychedelics and marijuana can either join together to raise funds for research or watch those studies that we do have permission to conduct grind to a halt.

Deborah Mash, Ph.D. and Dr. Juan Sanchez-Ramos, University of Miami School of Medicine, learned that a peer-review committee of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) rejected their application requesting support for an expansion of their FDA-approved Phase 1 human safety study evaluating the use of ibogaine in the treatment of cocaine abusers. MAPS had contributed $25,000 to the ibogaine project so that additional pilot data could be gathered to enhance the strength of the grant application. Ibogaine research in the United States has now stopped until other funding sources can be arranged.

Dr. Charles Grob and Russell Poland, Ph.D., Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, learned that a NIDA peer-review committee rejected their application requesting support for an expansion of their FDA-approved Phase 1 MDMA human safety study and their MDMA neurotoxicity study. MAPS also received word from a sympathetic foundation which funds medical research that it rejected a grant application to support Dr. Grob’s proposed research into the use of MDMA in the treatment of pain and distress in cancer patients. Fortunately, the generosity of many MAPS members will enable it to fund a scaled-back neurotoxicity study and the start of the study of MDMA in the treatment of cancer patients.

Dr. Donald Abrams, UC-San Francisco, learned that his proposal to conduct a pilot study into the use of smoked marijuana in the treatment of the AIDS wasting syndrome was rejected by a peer-review committee of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Thus, the study cannot proceed because NIDA arbitrarily required that it pass the NIH peer-review process to qualify for receiving NIDA marijuana. NIDA retains a monopoly on the supply of marijuana for research. Dr. Abrams’ research has probably been delayed for at least another year, in addition to the four years that MAPS and Dr. Abrams have already tried to conduct this study. Dr. Abrams will consider possibly revising and resubmitting of the protocol when the peer-review committee’s critique is made available to him around October. Dr. Abrams’ grant application was supported by a donation of $5,000 from MAPS, $1,000 of which came from the Drug Policy Foundation.

At the same time that medical marijuana research is suppressed, the provision of marijuana to patients through Cannabis Buyers Clubs has come under intensified legal attack. The Cannabis Patient Registry (CPR), directed by Sylvia Thyssen of MAPS, is working with several Buyers Club to make the CPR questionnaire, designed around the requirements of a medical necessity defense, a standard part of the patient intake process. MAPS will succeed in supporting psychedelic and marijuana research given sufficient financial ability and insightful strategic analysis. The discussion in this issue of the financial statement for Fiscal Year 1995-96 (June 1,1995 – May 31,1996) is an open invitation for dialogue and an appeal for your additional support.

Rick Doblin, MAPS President, September 1996.