Newsroom

Welcome to the MAPS Newsroom, where you will find resources, connections to experts, and education about all things psychedelic: research, harm reduction, policy, history, and more. 

To request an interview or appearance, complete the media request form and a member of our communications team will be in touch if we are able to grant an interview. 

  • Media requests are reviewed in the morning and evening every Monday-Friday (except holidays)
  • If you are on a deadline of less than 24 hours or over the weekend, please complete the form and call 831-429-6362 ext 303 to leave a message alerting us to your deadline. 

If you are planning to report on trauma, we recommend reading these two articles about how to do so conscientiously: Meaningful Consent in Trauma Journalism and How Not To Write About Rape by writer & editor Jina Moore. 

About MAPS

Founded in 1986, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana. We aim to transcend geopolitical and social boundaries and intentionally cultivate interactions with thought leaders from a wide range of interest areas that demonstrate the broad applications of the healing potential of psychedelics. We proactively build trust and common ground with everyone we meet. 

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About MAPS PBC

Founded in 2014, MAPS Public Benefit Corporation (MAPS PBC) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MAPS. MAPS PBC catalyzes healing and well-being through psychedelic drug development, therapist training programs, and sales of prescription psychedelics prioritizing public benefit above profit. MAPS and MAPS PBC employ more than 100 people with about three quarters of them at MAPS PBC and one quarter at MAPS.

Visit www.mapspublicbenefit.com to learn more.

Our Experts

MAPS and MAPS PBC experts are knowledgeable resources on many topics related to psychedelic research, policy, culture, and news. If one of our experts isn’t available, we may be able to connect you with another expert in the field — just be sure to check that box on the media request form

MAPS Experts

Rick Doblin, Ph.D.
Founder & Executive Director

Betty Aldworth
Director of Communications

Ismail Lourido Ali, J.D. 
Policy & Advocacy Counsel

Merete Christiansen
Associate Director of Development

Sara Gael, M.A.
Harm Reduction Officer

Liana Gillooly 
Development Officer 

Natalie Ginsberg, M.S.W.
Director of Policy & Advocacy

MAPS PBC Experts

Amy Emerson
Chief Executive Officer 

Berra Yazar-Klosinski, Ph.D. 
Deputy Director 

Corine de Boer, M.D., Ph.D.
Chief Medical Officer

Shannon Carlin, M.A., A.M.F.T
Chief of Therapy Training and Supervision

Rebecca Matthews
Chief Clinical Operations Officer 

Michael Mithoefer, M.D.
Senior Medical Director for Medical Affairs, Training, & Supervision

Psychedelic Compounds

MDMA
MDMA Facts
  • Generic name: midomafetamine
  • Chemical name: 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine
  • Compound type: Synthetic
  • Discovered: 1912
  • Prohibited: 1985
  • Anticipated FDA approval: 2023
  • Mechanism of action: induces release of serotonin and oxytocin; attenuates fear, increases empathy
  • Expected reactions in therapeutic setting: transient increase in blood pressure and heart rate, muscle tightness, decreased appetite, nausea, sweating, feeling cold, pupil dilation, and restlessness

MDMA for PTSD Facts (Updated September 2021)
  • Therapists trained in the MAPS protocol: ~900
  • People treated in MAPS-sponsored MDMA studies: ~200
  • People with symptom improvement: 88%
  • People with loss of PTSD diagnosis: 67%
  • Long-term prognosis: Continued reduction of symptoms
  • Years to cost-savings: <Four
  • Quality-of-life-years returned: >Five

MDMA was invented in 1912 by chemist Anton Köllisch of Merck but was largely unexplored for medical or psychiatric use until 1976, when Alexander Shulgin and Leo Zeff identified its potential in therapy. Due to its popularity in social contexts, in 1983 MDMA was caught up in the War on Drugs and swiftly prohibited, halting all research into its potential as an adjunct, or catalyst, to therapy. In 2001, Rick Doblin, Ph.D., outlined MAPS’ strategy for the development of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD and in 2004, the first study participant was treated by Dr. Michael Mithoefer and Annie Mithoefer in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Today, MAPS is sponsoring the second of two Phase 3 trials for FDA evaluation of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD, anticipated to conclude with approval in 2023.  MDMA-assisted therapy may hold potential in the treatment of eating disorders, anxiety associated with advanced-stage illness, and social anxiety. Research into treatment for couples in which one partner has been diagnosed with PTSD combines MDMA-assisted therapy with conjoint cognitive behavioral therapy. 

MDMA is not the same as “Ecstasy” or “molly.” Substances sold in unregulated markets under these names may contain MDMA, but frequently also contain unknown and/or dangerous adulterants. In laboratory studies, pure MDMA has been proven sufficiently safe for human consumption when taken a limited number of times in moderate doses. 

Learn more about our progress on our MDMA research page.

Cannabis/Marijuana
Marijuana Facts
  • Generic name: Cannabis Sativa
  • Chemical name: 6,6,9-trimethyl-3-pentylbenzo[c]chromen-1-ol
  • Compound type: Plant
  • Earliest use: ~2700 BC
  • Prohibited: 1970
  • Conditions under investigation: Chronic pain, PTSD, insomnia, epilepsy
  • Mechanism of action: Activates CB1 (alters mood and cognition) and CB2 receptors (regulate immune responses and anti-inflammatory effects)
  • Expected reactions in therapeutic setting: Increased heart rate, impaired short-term memory, impaired movement, euphoria, relaxation, and altered states of mind.
LSD
LSD Facts
  • Generic name: Lysergic acid diethylamide
  • Chemical name: 9,10-didehydro-N,N-diethyl-6-methylergoline-8β-carboxamide
  • Compound type: Synthetic
  • Discovered: Developed in 1938, psychoactive properties were discovered in 1943
  • Prohibited: 1968
  • Conditions under investigation: Pain,  ADHD, depression, end of life anxiety
  • Mechanism of action: LSD binds to some serotonin and dopamine receptors, resulting in intense feelings of euphoria, increased sense of connectedness to others and the world, and improvements in mood that can last up to a few weeks/months after ingestion.
  • Expected reactions in therapeutic setting: Pupil dilation, reduced appetite, dry mouth, profuse sweating, wakefulness, temporary visual distortions, and increase in body temperature and heart rate.

LSD, or Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, was first synthesized  in 1938 in  Basel, Switzerland by chemist, Albert Hofmann.  Originally one of many lysergamides  synthesized  with the intent of developing new respiratory stimulants, its psychoactive properties were not discovered until 1943, when it was accidently absorbed through the skin. Hofmann described the effects as an “intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination” with visual distortions of “extraordinary shapes” and “kaleidoscope play of colors”. Three days later on April 19th, 1943, Hofmann intentionally ingested 250 micrograms of LSD and soon recognized its potential therapeutic benefits. 

LSD was  introduced as a psychiatric drug in 1947 and used throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s to enhance psychotherapy for the treatments of anxiety, depression, alcoholism, and other diseases. However, psychedelic therapy and research were halted after LSD  was classified as a Schedule I substance in 1968, citing no therapeutic potential and the potential for abuse, although this has been disproven. In the US, FDA-approved research in patients and healthy volunteers  concluded in the 1980’s. 

MAPS has conducted the first double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the therapeutic use of LSD in human beings since the early 1970s. This study took place in Solothurn, Switzerland and investigated the safety and effectiveness of LSD-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with life-threatening illnesses and who are experiencing associated anxiety. The results were that patients experienced significant reductions in anxiety, with no acute or chronic adverse effects beyond one day after treatment. 

Due to its drug scheduling, research on LSD continues to be very limited, but demonstrates significant therapeutic potential. Learn more about our progress on our LSD research page. 

Ibogaine
Ibogaine Facts
  • Generic name: 12-Methoxyibogamine
  • Chemical name: (1R,15R,17S,18S)-17-ethyl-7-methoxy-3,13-diazapentacyclo[13.3.1.02,10.04,9.013,18]nonadeca-2(10),4(9),5,7-tetraene
  • Compound type: Chemical substance originating in plants; can be synthesized
  • Discovered: Scientifically discovered in 1885; synthesized 1901
  • Prohibited: 1970
  • Conditions under investigation:  Alcohol and opioid use disorder, traumatic brain injury
  • Mechanism of action: Ibogaine mostly interacts with the sigma-2 receptor, moderately with opioid receptors, and moderate-low with serotonin receptors. 
  • Expected reactions in therapeutic setting: Dry mouth, difficulty coordinating muscle movement (ataxia), nausea, decreased body temperature, increased introspection, irregular heartbeat, irregular breathing, vomiting, visual distortions, and heightened arousal and vigilance.

MAPS has completed two observational studies of the long-term effects of ibogaine treatment on patients undergoing therapy at independent ibogaine treatment centers in Mexico and New Zealand. Data from these studies contribute to the growing scientific literature about ibogaine as a treatment for substance use disorder.

Ayahuasca
Ayahuasca Facts
  • Generic name: Ayahuasca (containing Dimethyltryptamine)
  • Chemical name: Active chemical is DMT (2-(1H-indol-3-yl)-N,N-dimethylethanamine)
  • Compound type: Psychotropic brew made from plants
  • Earliest use: ~1020
  • Discovered: 1851
  • Prohibited: Plants used in ayahuasca are not illegal, but DMT became illegal in 1970
  • Conditions under investigation: Treatment-resistant depression, substance use disorder
  • Expected reactions in therapeutic setting: Increased spiritual connection, nausea, vomiting, motor function impairment, relaxation, increase in body temperature, euphoria, and hallucinations.
Psilocybin
Psilocybin Facts
  • Generic name: 4-phosphoryloxy-NN-dimethyltryptamine
  • Chemical name: 3-[2-(Dimethylamino)ethyl]-1H-indol-4-yl dihydrogen phosphate
  • Compound type: Chemical substance derived from mushrooms; can be synthesized
  • Scientifically Discovered: 1958
  • Prohibited: 1970
  • Conditions under investigation:  Depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, eating disorders, headaches, OCD
  • Mechanism of action: Activates several serotonin receptors; increases feelings of euphoria, visual and mental hallucinations, changes in perception, a distorted sense of time, and perceived spiritual experiences.
  • Expected reactions in therapeutic setting: Pupil dilation, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, nausea, muscle tightness, lack of coordination, and perceptual distortions.
Ketamine
Ketamine Facts
  • Generic name: Ketamine
  • Chemical name: 2-(2-chlorophenyl)-2-(methylamino)cyclohexan-1-one
  • Compound type: Synthetic
  • Discovered: 1956
  • Prohibited: 1999
  • Conditions under investigation:  Depression, PTSD, alcohol use disorder, pain
  • Mechanism of action: Blocks NMDA receptors resulting in a trance-like state providing pain relief, sedation, and amnesia
  • Expected reactions in therapeutic setting: preserved breathing and airway reflexes, stimulated heart function with increased blood pressure, and moderate bronchodilation
DMT
DMT Facts
  • Generic name: N,N-Dimethyltryptamine
  • Chemical name: 2-(1H-indol-3-yl)-N,N-dimethylethanamine
  • Compound type: Chemical substance derived from plants; can be synthesized
  • Discovered: Synthesized 1931; discovered naturally-occurring in plants in 1946; hallucinogenic properties discovered in 1956
  • Prohibited: 1970
  • Conditions under investigation: Treatment-resistant depression (5-MeO-DMT), stroke, 
  • Mechanism of action: Activates serotonin and dopamine receptors; increases feelings of euphoria and induces hallucinations and mystical experiences. 
  • Expected reactions in therapeutic setting: Elevated blood pressure, heart rate, and pupil diameter; hallucinations, euphoria, and bodily dissociation.
Mescaline
Mescaline Facts
  • Generic name: Mescaline
  • Chemical name: 2-(3,4,5-trimethoxyphenyl)ethanamine
  • Compound type: Chemical derived from cacti
  • Discovered: 1896
  • Prohibited: 1970
  • Conditions under investigation: Depression, anxiety, substance use disorder
  • Mechanism of action: Binds to and activates serotonin receptors
  • Expected reactions in therapeutic setting: Euphoria, pupil dilation, synesthesia, increased heart rate, hallucinations, agitation, weakness, and increased sweating