Marijuana Farm Awaits Final Ruling – MAPS News: April 2009
Dear MAPS Supporters and Friends,
Waiting to see what will happen with our legal attempts to start our own medical marijuana production facility is turning out to be a real nail-biter. Today, Congressmen John Olver and Sam Farr sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General David Ogden requesting that he intervene on our behalf. The letter opens:
We are writing to request that the Department of Justice take immediate action to prevent Bush Administration DEA appointees from effectuating an 11th-hour agency ruling with significant implications for the new Administration’s medical marijuana and scientific integrity policies. Specifically, we urge you to instruct the DEA Deputy Administrator to adopt DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner’s February 12, 2007 Opinion and Recommended Ruling in the matter of University of Massachusetts at Amherst Professor Lyle Craker, PhDIn the alternative, we request that you take steps to ensure that no decision in this matter is finalized by the agency until the President’s DEA appointments are in office and can independently review the Craker matter. (Read the full text here.)
DEA’s final order rejecting Craker’s license is currently set to go into effect on May 1 unless Ogden intervenes or our request for a new hearing or to submit additional written testimony is accepted.
DEA reports to Obama-appointed Ogden who could order Bush-appointed Acting DEA Administrator Michelle Leonhart to overturn her clearly political ruling in the matter. Leonhart recently made national headlines for fragrantly wasting taxpayer dollars to hire a private jet for $123,000 to fly to a meeting in Columbia. While she didn’t act in good faith to the American people during her flight to Colombia, and she didn’t act in good faith to the American people when she ignored the recommendation of DEA Administrative Law Judge Bitner that it would be in the interest of the American people to end NIDA’s monopoly on marijuana available for research, she still has the opportunity to do the right thing.
I know that everyone has the capacity to make changes and to do good – I hope that Michelle Leonhart will have the courage to do good by the American people with the Craker matter.
In other MAPS news, our clinical research monitoring team has returned safely from visiting research sites around the world. We are preparing for an MDMA/PTSD co-therapist training seminar for our current researchers this summer. Several fabulous speakers have committed to present at our April 16-18, 2010 conference.
The MAPS office is moving and we have a new phone number: (831) 429-MDMA
and a new mailing address:
309 Cedar Street #2323
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
**This address is for mail only. It cannot accept packages larger than an envelope or visitors. Please inquire by phone or email for our physical address.**
For our gift of the month, we are depleting our stock of T-shirts. We will give a t-shirt to current members who give $25 or more and to new members who give $35 or more. Since we are running out of stock, we can’t guarantee color and size, so order quickly for the best chances at getting your first choice!
Randolph Hencken, MA
Director of Communications and Marketing
Here’s a sample of what is happening this month at MAPS:
- DEA’s Final Order Effective May 1, Unless Changed
- Editorials and Articles Support DEA Licensing of Craker
- Two by Two: MAPS-Sponsored MDMA/PTSD Co-Therapists will Travel to MAPS Training Seminar in Austria, June 25 July 1, 2009
- Research Monitoring Team Completes Visits Around the World
- Coincidences Abound for MAPS in Jordan
- Canadian MDMA/PTSD Study Gets Green Light from Health Canada
- MAPS sends $20,000 to Swiss MDMA Study
- Threshold Foundation Donates $8400, SAePT Donates 5000 to MDMA/PTSD Research
- Journal of Psychopharmacology Publishes MDMA Review
- Harvard MDMA-Cancer/Anxiety Study Update
- Swiss LSD/End-of-Life Study Receives $25,695 donation
- John Harrison Discusses Ibogaine Research at Provider Summit in Sayulita, Mexico
- Productive Planning Produces Productive Pot Production in Israel
- Santo Daime Church Victorious in Federal Court
- MAPS Headquarters Relocates: New Number and Address
- Gift of the Month: MAPS T-shirt
- New Speakers Added to MAPS’ April 16-18, 2010 CME Conference
- Rick Doblin Interviewed on the Opium Den
- New Albert Hofmann LSD Documentary Available on April 19th
* * * Dues-paying MAPS members are empowering staff, scientists, and volunteers to carry out pioneering research and educational projects. To donate, learn about the benefits of MAPS membership, or purchase books, clothes, art, and other merchandise, visit: store.maps.org/ * * *
On April 15, Members of Congress John W. Olver and Sam Farr sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General David Ogden requesting that he have the Department of Justice prevent DEA’s final order in Craker/UMASS Amherst/marijuana matter from going into effect.
On April 13, DEA lawyers submitted their response to a powerful Supplemental Motion To Reconsider and Exhibits submitted on March 11 by lawyers for Prof. Craker to DEA Acting Deputy Administrator Michelle Leonhart. This document added to a Motion to Reconsider filed January 30. These motions request a hearing to present opposing arguments to new evidence that DEA cited in its January 14, 2009, Final Order rejecting DEA Administrative Law Judge Bittner’s February 12, 2007 recommendation that Prof. Craker receive a license to grow marijuana for federally-licensed research. Prof. Craker’s facility would be sponsored by MAPS.
President Obama has not yet appointed a new DEA Administrator. Until he does, our hopes for granting our Motion to Reconsider rest with the newly appointed Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, to whom Acting DEA Administrator Leonhart reports.
DEA’s final order now goes into effect May 1, unless our Motion to Reconsider is granted or Ogden intervenes.
On March 8, the prestigious scientific publication Nature Medicine wrote in support of DEA licensing Prof. Craker’s MAPS-supported medical marijuana production facility. On March 10, the Los Angeles Times’ published an editorial, The science of pot, in favor of DEA licensing of Prof. Craker, citing as support President Obama’s March 9, 2009 statement about scientific integrity. The LA Times editorial said, “DEA is one of the many federal agencies ready for enlightenment.”
On March 18, an article in the National Journal (Congress Daily) quoted an anonymous White House official saying that it was likely that DEA’s last-minute rejection would be reviewed.
On April 2, Aaron Houston, Director of Government Relations at the Marijuana Policy Project testified before congress and discussed the need for the government to end the monopoly on marijuana for research. Aaron discussed his testimony in a video blog.
On April 7, Americans for Safe Access published a 16-page document, The Obstruction Of Medical Cannabis Research In The U.S. A Review Of The Growing Controversy Regarding A Federal Monopoly On The Supply Of Medical Cannabis For Research
MAPS has finalized plans and chosen a time and location for our first five-day MDMA/PTSD therapist training retreat for MAPS-sponsored researchers. The event will take place at the end of June in the Austrian mountains, where it’s off-season, reasonably priced, and more-or-less centrally located for therapist teams and MAPS staff coming together from the US, Canada, Switzerland, Spain, Israel, and Jordan.
Michael Mithoefer, MD and Annie Mithoefer, BSN, the co-therapist team from MAPS’ successfully completed U.S. MDMA/PTSD pilot study, will share techniques and results with the other therapists. June May Ruse, PhD, will present the principles in our treatment manual, which she is developing with feedback from our research teams.
It feels like Noah and the Ark. We’re bringing co-therapist teams, one male and one female, from these different countries (with two teams from Jordan), two by two, for a training program about our evolving method of treatment for providing MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to people with PTSD, mused MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD.
The therapeutic outcomes in our US study were remarkable. In order to increase the chances that other co-therapist teams can replicate these results in MAPS’ other studies, Michael and Annie will present videotapes of their sessions and lead discussions about lessons they’ve learned. The Swiss and Israeli co-therapist teams, who have treated some subjects but haven’t completed their studies yet, will also lead presentations about their results and methods. We will also discuss cultural differences, research methodology, and other treatments for PTSD and their similarities and differences from MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. We will have time for a breathwork session and opportunities for informal sharing. MAPS staff will be creating podcasts and writing blogs from the training seminar to keep our members and other interested parties informed of the valuable information that comes from it.
Over the past several weeks, MAPS clinical research team members Valerie Mojeiko, Director of Operations and Clinical Research Associate, and Joshua Sonstroem, Information and Technology Specialist and Accountant, visited MAPS research sites around the globe. Visits such as these are conducted periodically to ensure that each research team is conducting their research in accordance with US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines so that the data can ultimately be presented to the FDA as well as to national regulatory agencies and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA).
Valerie and Josh made visits to our Swiss LSD/end-of-life anxiety study and Swiss MDMA/PTSD study. Rick Doblin, PhD joined Valerie and Josh at our Israeli MDMA/PTSD study, and at our proposed Jordanian MDMA/PTSD Study.
On the day of our monitoring visit in Jordan, medical students from throughout the Arab world were taking their board certification psychiatry exams at the Military Hospital in Amman, where our proposed MDMA/PTSD study will take place. Dr. Nasser Shuriquie, the Principal Investigator (PI) of our planned study, was one of the examiners, along with many of the leading psychiatrists in Jordan. Nasser arranged a lunch for Rick, Valerie, and Josh to meet with these accomplished psychiatrists in order to discuss in person our MDMA/PTSD project. During the luncheon, the MAPS team explained the history, design and goals of our research and learned about the treatment of mental illnesses in Jordan.
It was an incredibly fortunate coincidence that we were able to speak to so many key psychiatrists in Jordan during our initial site visit, gleamed Rick.
After the meeting at the Hospital, a Jordanian friend took Rick, Valerie, and Josh to Jordan Wild, an architecturally stunning facility built for an organization that protects Jordanian wildlife. They all sat down in a lounge area and discussed the many challenges that are nestled in starting an MDMA/PTSD study in Jordan, especially doing the work internationally and in such a diverse cultural context. During the middle of that conversation, a young man sitting nearby who had overheard them talking came over and joined the conversation. He said that from what he heard, he could tell that they were coming from a sincere, optimistic place. He said that the research they were talking about starting would be good for Jordan, and he wanted to help.
As it turned out, the young man happened to be a medical student at the University of Jordan studying psychiatry. One of his professors was one of the psychiatric examiners who Rick had spoken to at lunch. The medical student is from Iraq and said that there were about 500,000 Iraqi refugees living in Jordan, many with PTSD, and that he could help suggest ways to enroll some Iraqi refugees into our study. Needless to say, we at MAPS are thrilled that we can try to help both Iraq war refugees and U.S. Iraq war veterans heal from the trauma of the war.
This study is fully funded.
On March 17, Health Canada issued a No Objection Letter for MAPS’ Canadian MDMA/PTSD study. This means that the Canadian protocol and the MDMA that will be used in that study (from Switzerland) have been completely approved by Health Canada. On April 2, Dr. Ingrid Pacey applied for her Section 56 exemption, equivalent to a DEA Schedule 1 license. This license will permit her to possess and handle MDMA for the study. Once she has obtained her Section 56 Exemption, probably within the next month, MAPS can proceed to acquire the necessary import/export permits for shipment of the MDMA from Switzerland to Canada. MAPS monitoring team has scheduled their first pre-study visit to discuss logistics with the team on May 9. If all goes smoothly, we anticipate starting the study within the next 2-3 months.
On April 9, MAPS sent a payment of $20,000 to our Swiss MDMA/PTSD study, conducted by Principal Investigator Peter Oehen, MD, and his co-therapist Verena Widmer, RN. The study has enrolled 10 subjects, with 2 subjects still in the treatment process and two more to be enrolled.
Ashawna Hailey, on MAPS’ Board of Directors, presented information about our MDMA/PTSD research to a Threshold Foundation meeting. The Threshold Foundation is a group of philanthropists who meet together to pool resources and discuss their charitable giving. Ashawna made a presentation that highlighted our MDMA/PTSD research as a tool to help treat veterans of war. We wish to thank Ashawna for her speech and we extend our gratitude to the members of Threshold Foundation for their $8400 donation.
At their annual meeting on April 3, the Swiss Association for Psycholytic Therapy (SAePT) voted to donate 5000 Euros to the Swiss MDMA/PTSD study being conducted by Dr. Peter Oehen. We’re grateful for this contribution and the international collaboration between MAPS and SAePT, whose members include both Dr. Oehen and Dr. Gasser.
On March 1, 2009 the Journal of Psychopharmacology published an article by Norwegian researchers Pal Johansen and Teri S. Krebs, titled How could MDMA (ecstasy) help anxiety disorders? A neurobiological rationale. The peer-reviewed, scientific article discusses neurobiological reasons why MDMA could be an effective treatment for anxiety disorders. Pal and Teri are also analyzing the transcripts of the therapy sessions in the US MDMA/PTSD study to explore how MDMA affects a range of different psychological defense mechanisms.
On March 19, the journal article was discussed in a popular press article by Reuters.
A study that originated with MAPS, but that is now funded and managed independent of MAPS has had several important updates. The project offers MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and non-drug psychotherapy for advanced-stage cancer patients who are experiencing anxiety and other end-of-life issues not adequately treated by traditional means. The study had only been able to recruit from patients of the oncology service at the Lahey Clinic of Burlington, MA. Study candidates now just need to reside within a 100-mile radius of Boston and have an oncologist that the researchers can also work with. Moreover, the study now has a “Stage 2,” so that 100% of participants have the opportunity to be part of the experiment employing the dose range of MDMA being evaluated as a treatment-level dose. To learn more about this study, either if you are curious or if you or someone you know may be interested in volunteering, see: http://clinicaltrials.partners.org/trials.aspx?tId=2284
On April 8, Robert Barnhart generously donated $25,695 to MAPS for our Swiss LSD/End-of-Life study. Robert has now donated over $100,000 to this study, with another $25,000 pledged for next month. This study is fully funded; now we can focus just on treating patients.
As of April 7, 2009, the thirteenth of 30 subjects has been enrolled in the MAPS-sponsored ibogaine outcome study at the Pangea Biomedics Ibogaine Association in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico. The study is being conducted by John Harrison, PsyD Candidate at California Institute for Integral Studies.
From March 20-27, John Harrison attended an international ibogaine conference in Sayulita, Mexico. This invitation-only conference was hosted by “Awakening in The Dream House,” an ibogaine treatment clinic located in San Pancho, Mexico. The conference was held in honor of Howard Lotsof, who discovered the ‘addiction interrupting’ benefits of ibogaine more than 40 years ago. Fifty providers, clinicians, researchers, physicians, artists and journalists from around the world gathered for the conference/celebration. Among the attendees was Ken Alper, MD, who presented on the mechanism of action of ibogaine in the brain. Dr. Alper discussed addiction as pathological learning and emphasized the need for more extensive research.
John discussed MAPS’ ibogaine outcome study and early findings of his research. He extended invitations to several clinics and treatment providers world-wide to join with MAPS in developing further research into the psychedelic tool, ibogaine, as a treatment for addiction.
This study is fully funded.
On Friday, March 6, MAPS brought Val Corral and Mimi Peleg of Wo/Mens Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) to Israel to work with Yohai Golan at his medical marijuana production facility. Joined by Rick Doblin, they had very productive meetings with the team that is producing marijuana for Israeli Ministry of Health-approved patients. Lester Grinspoon, MD, Donald Abrams, MD, and Rick Doblin agreed to be on the board of advisors for the production facility. The team is still negotiating with the Ministry of Health to obtain permission to sell their product to their patients; currently they are only legally allowed to supply the medicine free of charge. MAPS has arranged with the support of an anonymous donor for Mike Corral, a greenthumb gardener from WAMM, to go to Israel soon to further consult with the production facility in order to help maximize their yield.
Rick, Val, and Mimi were able to tour the facility, which includes a multi-acre greenhouse that is gradually filling up with medical marijuana plants in various stages of growth. Rick says, It is a tremendously exciting situation and we are looking forward to continuing to be involved in the project.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Health is granting licenses for people who have PTSD to use medical marijuana. Rick had a conversation with one of the doctors who prescribes marijuana to patients with PTSD. It is possible that we will become involved in a marijuana/PTSD study in Israel, which will complement and clarify our other MDMA/PTSD Studies.
On March 19, the Jerusalem Post published a lengthy article discussing Yohai Golan’s medical marijuana production operation and MAPS $15,000 financial contribution to the endeavor.
Rick Doblin will be returning to Israel from April 19-22 for further meetings at the Ministry of Health about the medical marijuana program.
On March 18, the Church of the Holy Light of the Queen (CHLQ), a congregation of the Santo Daime religion in Oregon, earned a hard-won legal victory in U.S. District Court. Plaintiff Jonathan Goldman, a CHLQ a member of the Santo Daime religion for 21 years, and his co-plaintiffs sued the government for the right to consume Ayahuasca after he was arrested in 1999 for possession of Ayahuasca during a DEA raid of his home.
U.S. District Judge Owen Panner noted in his ruling that Ayahuasca didn’t pose serious health danger to its users, that the church was unlikely to divert the tea and sell it on the black market, and that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) prohibits the federal government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.
Psychiatrist Dr. John H. Halpern testified in the case. John presented data from a study in which he interviewed 32 of CHLQ’s 40 active members. He testified that the church members interviewed generally were mentally healthy and appeared to have benefited from their participation in CHLQ services.
The team at MAPS’ Love Creek headquarters are packing boxes to move to a new office in Santa Cruz. Please make a note of our new mailing address and new phone number:
309 Cedar Street #2323
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
***We cannot receive packages larger than an envelope or visitors at this mailing address. Please contact our office for our physical address if you have a large package to deliver.***
We don’t want to bring our t-shirt stock to our new office. We will give a t-shirt to current members who donate $25 or more and to new members who give $35 or more. Since we are running out of stock we can’t guarantee color and size, so order quickly for the best chance at getting your first choice!
Next April 16-18, 2010, MAPS will be hosting a continuing medical education conference for psychiatrists, physicians, psychotherapists, nurses and social workers, with the conference also open to the general public. The conference will be held at a Silicon Valley Hotel in the San Francisco Bay Area in San Jose, California. Confirmed speakers include Dr. Michael and Annie Mithoefer, Dr. Peter and Verena Oehen, Dr. Peter Gasser, Dr. Sergio Marchevsky, Dr. Ingrid Pacey, Dr. Stan Grof, Dr. Andrew Weil (by video link), Dave Nichols, Ph.D., Dr. Charles Grob, Bill Richards, Ph.D., Dr. Franz Vollenweider, Jose Carlos Bouso, PhD, Jordi Riba, MD, Carolyn Garcia (MG), and others still being invited.
On April 9, MAPS president Rick Doblin was interviewed on the online radio show The Opium Den Talkshow. The shows host Daniel Williams really enjoyed interviewing Rick and was particularly intrigued by stories of Rick’s troubles as a younger man.
MAPS is pleased to present LSD: Problem Child and Wonder Drug, a documentary film by Michael McAteer about the International LSD Symposium held on the occasion of Dr. Albert Hofmann’s 100th Birthday in Basel, Switzerland, January 11, 12, and 13, 2006.
LSD: Problem Child and Wonder Drug captures the fascinating story of LSD as it is eloquently spoken by Dr. Albert Hofmann, the 100 year old sage-scientist who brought it into the world. With interviews and presentations by Rick Doblin, Alex Grey, Ralph Metzner, Carl Ruck, Goa Gil and others, this historic message from the father of LSD is a timeless relic and an immediate source of inspiration.
Dr. Albert Hofmann himself said, This is an important film. It is a comprehensive document of the various effects of LSD and of their meaning. The film is a good document of the uniqueness of LSD.
Purchase the DVD on the MAPS website, and 50% of the proceeds will go towards furthering what Dr. Hofmann called his heart’s desire: LSD research.
Released on the MAPS website on Bicycle Day – 4/19/2009
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