Boston Globe Education section D11-D12 Campus Insider
By Marcella Bombardieri and Jenna Russell | January 16, 2005
ECSTASY AT HARVARD News that a Harvard researcher received Food and Drug Administration approval to study the effects of the illegal drug known as ecstasy on terminal cancer patients brought a bonanza of publicity, including coverage on CNN and the “Today” show. Much of the interest seemed to revolve around the return of psychedelic research to Harvard, where Timothy Leary lost his job in the 1960s after using students in his drug experiments.
But more amazing to some is the fact that the federal government is allowing McLean Hospital to do a study with 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, while blocking a University of Massachusetts professor from simply growing marijuana for research. Both projects are funded by the same organization, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, whose president, Rick Doblin, said authorities seem to have a special dislike for marijuana research because many people have used the drug recreationally, making it more vital to maintain its illegitimacy. He also notes that different agencies have different approaches. The FDA is open to research, while the Drug Enforcement Administration controls the marijuana supply so tightly that research is nearly impossible, he said.
Doblin hopes to get approval soon for another Harvard study, testing LSD for treating cluster headaches. “The government has invested more of the war on drugs on marijuana than psychedelics,” he said. “The first thing they taught us at the Kennedy School is, ‘Don’t expect your government to be consistent.’ ”
The Boston Globe published an article contrasting FDA approval of MAPS’ study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with anxiety associated with advanced-stage cancer with DEA rejection of Prof. Lyle Craker’s MAPS-sponsored application for a license to establish a facility to produce marijuana for federally-approved research.