A Special Message from Rick Doblin about Psychedelic Science 2017

Dear friends and supporters around the world,

It is with great anticipation that I write to you on the verge of Psychedelic Science 2017. On behalf of MAPS, the Beckley Foundation, and all our partners, we are delighted to welcome you to this historic event.

We’re astonished at the extent of interest in Psychedelic Science 2017. As far as we can tell, this will be the largest psychedelic conference—ever—with approximately 2,500 people from at least 45 U.S. states and 40 countries attending the three-day conference, with more people attending just the workshops and/or other events.

There will be tremendous opportunities for networking during Psychedelic Science 2017, and we hope you take full advantage of them to connect with your peers from across the globe. If a lecture session is closed, there will be additional Live Streaming rooms where attendees can still tune in together. Plus, all sessions from the two largest rooms will also be live streamed for free on MAPS’ YouTube channel. Shortly following the event, all lectures will be available online for free on YouTube and Facebook.

This is a time of great opportunity, with an increasing number of studies into the clinical, spiritual, and scientific uses of psychedelics. Enthusiastic media coverage has played a large role in shifting cultural perceptions of psychedelics. The regulatory doors have been opened; MAPS is moving into Phase 3 research for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, and Phase 3 research is also soon anticipated for psilocybin. In this time of opportunity, we also have a greater awareness of the psychological factors that are challenging our global society, including the rise of fundamentalism, fear of “the other,” and the election of “law-and-order” politicians.

The need for an open, responsible approach to psychedelics is greater than ever. The further expansion of psychedelics into the mainstream is, in large part, going to depend on the people who participate in Psychedelic Science 2017, whether at the events themselves or in myriad other ways.

I invite and encourage you to ask challenging questions to cultivate a rigorous discussion. Aim to explore and understand the fears, anxieties, and resistances that still exist to the integration of psychedelics into our culture, and cultivate your hopes for healing and a deeper spirituality.

We must be careful not to repeat the mistakes of the 1960s, with some parts of the culture denying the benefits and exaggerating the risks of psychedelics, and others exaggerating their benefits and denying their risks. Instead, let’s strive for a balanced examination of both risks and benefits—we have been given another chance.

The purposeful integration of psychedelics is key, as we know psychedelics are not magic tools which work by themselves. The context, the set and setting, will contribute to the outcome. We must remain vigilant and focused as we move forward into this next phase. The interactions that take place at and through Psychedelic Science 2017 are an unprecedented opportunity for reflection and refinement as we move forward—in unity and in diversity—as a global psychedelic community.

I welcome you all and look forward to being together in Oakland.

Rick Doblin, Ph.D., is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He received his doctorate in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Rick studied with Dr. Stanislav Grof and was among the first to be certified as a Holotropic Breathwork practitioner. His professional goal is to help develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana, primarily as prescription medicines but also for personal growth for otherwise healthy people, and eventually to become a legally licensed psychedelic therapist. He founded MAPS in 1986.