Greeting MAPS Members and Friends:
It is an exceptionally busy time at MAPS right now. As MAPS President Rick Doblin testifies in the hearings in Washington, DC for MAPS’ lawsuit against the DEA, MAPS researchers and staff prepare to leave tomorrow for Burning Man. And now, quickly, I bring you the news:
1. Medical Marijuana Hearings Underway: Prof Lyle Craker vs. DEA
2. Harvard Team Observes MDMA-assisted Psychotherapy Session in South Carolina Study
3. Israeli MDMA/PTSD Study Progressing Toward Approval
4. Swiss MDMA/PTSD Study in Protocol Design Phase
5. Ecstasydata.org is Officially Closed, Seeking Grant Writer
6. Psytopia: Still a Success
7. Upcoming Events–Earthdances
8. Signed portraits of Laura Huxley Available Now
9. Visit MAPS Theme Camp at Burning Man!
10. Seeking Art for 2006 Psychedelic Calendar
11. Seeking Donations for MAPS Benefit Auction
12. New MAPS Bulletins Arriving!
13. Secret Chief Revealed Now Online
14. Correction: Iboga Therapy House a Not-for-Profit, Not a For-Profit
15. Update: Dr. Michael Mithoefer’s MDMA/PTSD Study
The hearings for MAPS’ lawsuit against the DEA regarding the obstruction of medical marijuana research have been taking place this week from Monday, August 22 through Friday, August 26 at DEA headquarters. This is the culmination of over five years of effort by MAPS to break the government monopoly on the supply of marijuana that can be used in legal research, a prerequisite to the beginning of a serious effort to develop marijuana into an FDA-approved prescription medicine. The first year was spent finding Dr. Lyle Craker, and the last four years were spent urging the DEA to act in the public interest and issue a ruling on Dr. Craker’s license to run a high-potency research-grade marijuana production facility. When this license, was rejected, we moved to sue the DEA, forcing them to justify their decision. This lawsuit is the continuation of the legal struggle over medical marijuana, in the wake of the recent Supreme Court case Raich vs. Ashcroft. It is now clear that the most direct way to make marijuana legal for patients is through the FDA. We need to break the government monopoly so we can foster research. MAPS has three admirable lawyers working on this case pro bono, as well as a long list of witnesses. Legal documents and updates on the case are posted online in a special weblog created for this purpose here. A second and perhaps final week of testimony will take place from September 26-30.
In preparation for a MAPS-sponsored MDMA psychotherapy dose response study in cancer patients with anxiety, psychiatrist Dr. John Halpern and co-therapist and palliative care specialist Dr. Uma Naidoo visited Dr. Michael Mithoefer’s MAPS-sponsored MDMA/PTSD study in Charleston, SC to observe a treatment session on August 1. The experience was so useful to them, it made us realize we need to do more thinking about a therapist training program. This will be necessary when MAPS begins Phase II clinical trials of the therapeutic use of MDMA at multiple sites, and conducts research with 10-15 treatment teams around the country.
The MAPS-sponsored MDMA/PTSD psychotherapy pilot study has been approved by the local ethics committee (IRB) at the Beer Yaakov Mental Health Center, and is currently under review by the Ministry of Health. MAPS and the Ministry are actively working out the details of a contract. This study is to be directed by Dr. Moshe Kotler, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Tel Aviv University, Sackler School of Medicine, and former chief psychiatrist of the Israeli Defense Forces. As early as the end of this year, Dr. Kotler may be able to start this study investigating the use of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in subjects suffering from war- and terrorism-related PTSD.
MAPS is working with Dr. Peter Oehen in Switzerland on a protocol for an MDMA/PTSD psychotherapy study that will be jointly funded with the Swiss Association for Psycholytic Therapy. Dr. Oehen is using our standard research protocol, literature review, and informed consent form with some minor modifications. The Swiss study will have three experimental sessions instead of two, low dose MDMA as an active placebo rather than an inactive placebo, and will have supplemental dosing two-and-a-half hours after the initial dose. On August 20, the informed consent form was submitted to the Swiss Ethics Committee. Thank you to all of the MAPS members in Germany who responded to our request seeking a translator for the informed consent form, and a special thanks to the volunteers who translated the form from English to German.
5. Ecstasydata.org is Officially Closed, Seeking Grant Writer
As of August 1st, pill-testing site Ecstasydata.org is officially closed until new sources of funding are located. The program has secured about $1000 to pay a grant writer, and is currently seeking someone to help them obtain necessary donations. Ecstasydata.org is an independent laboratory program which allows people to send in pills to be analyzed with a GC/MS, with the results posted on the web. The site was born from MAPS’ initial small ecstasy pill-testing project which was greatly expanded by DanceSafe, and most recently co-sponsored by Erowid, Dancesafe, and MAPS. Ecstasy pills listed on the site commonly contain caffeine, methamphetamine, DXM, pseudoephedrine, and MDA, as well as or instead of MDMA. The site aimed to reduce harm for users, and to dispel common myths about street ecstasy’s contents.
Psytopia, the 7-day all-inclusive charity event in Jamaica, was cancelled the day before it was to begin. I (MAPS staffer Valerie Mojeiko) went anyway, as did most of the people who had purchased tickets, and had a great experience, thanks to a group of dedicated psychedelic superstars who organized meetings and put up a bulletin board in the front lobby to announce events. I delivered a presentation on MAPS and co-facilitated a discussion group PSYchedelics’ role in shaping uTOPIA with my partner Kris, to a crowd of about 50 people, and had wonderful conversations with dozens more, most of who were unfamiliar with, but excited about, the work that MAPS is doing. The most rewarding experience was meeting a man at the Hedonism resort who was not a part of the Psytopia group, and who had just tried his first psychedelic at the event, a week before his 40th birthday. We talked to him for hours as he was coming down, and he later gave a patron donation to MAPS. Although some people were disappointed that the planned events and concerts did not take place, it was overall an unexpected success and a great chance to work together with interesting people on building our own Psytopia in the midst of chaos and uncertainty.
Join MAPS staffer Julia Onnie-Hay at the Northern California Earthdance next month from September 16-18 in Laytonville, CA where she will be setting up a table for MAPS. The California Earthdance is a three-day camp-out celebration for world peace and unity, set in a beautiful old growth oak forest and featuring five stages of musical entertainment of many genres. The event takes place in 150 cities in 50 countries. MAPS will also have a table presence at the more intimate Sarasota, FL Earthdance
We are pleased to present the second print in a special signed and numbered limited edition of prints selected from Dean Chamberlain’s Psychedelic Pioneers Series, his portrait of Laura Huxley. This portrait was shot in 1997 in Laura’s home in Los Angeles. Dean has generously donated funds from the sale of these prints to help support MAPS-sponsored research into psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy in people struggling with death. Laura and Aldous Huxley pioneered the use of psychedelics to ease the dying process, as described in This Timeless Moment, by Laura Huxley. 50% of the profits from the sale of these prints will go toward this research, with a minimum of $25,000. There are only 50 of these beautiful archival pigment prints. The image is 11″x14″ and is printed on fine-art matte paper. Prints numbers 1-20 are offered at $1000 each. Prints numbered 21-40 are offered at $1500 each. Prints numbered 41-50 are offered at $2000 each. Please visit our bookstore to purchase one of these prints.The first print sold just two days ago. We have sold 46 of the 50 Albert Hofmann signed prints and only have 4 left. These are also available in the online bookstore or by calling the MAPS office. They are being sold for $2000 each.
Dean Chamberlain developed his light painting technique, which involves working with his camera and subject in darkened spaces, in 1977. These images are created entirely in the camera. Using long exposure times, which for a single frame of film may involve from minutes to hours, Dean moves throughout the composition space with flashlights and or other mobile light sources, illuminating each individual element, not so much photographing a moment but painting with light through time and space. Once the film exposure is complete and the lens shutter is closed the image is finished. The film is developed normally and then printed without further manipulations.
MAPS is returning to Burning Man for our third year, and this time we have our own theme camp on the Esplanade near 9:15. (Look for the large dome with Albert Hofmann riding his bicycle on top.) Students for Sensible Drug Policy board member Matt Atwood and a group of Burners from Chicago (BOPcamp) are joining forces with MAPS this year to bring psychedelic-themed entertainment to Black Rock City. Join us at MAPS: The Psyche-delic Centre for the Palenque Norte lecture series, Holotropic Breathwork, electronic music, recordings of psychedelic gurus, sound healing performance, and a wealth of discussions and workshops all week long. MAPS will also continue to volunteer with the Black Rock Rangers and assist them in Sanctuary.
In commemoration of two very important dates that will take place in 2006, (as well as a variety of lesser important ones) MAPS is creating a psychedelic calendar. On January 11, 2006, Albert Hofmann turns 100. On April 18, MAPS turns 20! We are currently seeking art submissions. If you have something that you think would go particularly well with a certain month, or if you have something that is generally psychedelic and would fit in anywhere, we’d love to see it! We’re also seeking information about interesting and amusing psychedelic- and marijuana-related events that took place on a specific date. The deadline for submissions is Monday September 12 However, the sooner submissions can be sent, the more likely we will be able to use them.
The special Israel Conference edition of the MAPS Bulletin has gone out and domestic members should have received their copies by now. If you have not, let us know and we’ll check on it. International members may need to wait a bit longer. We hope you enjoy it, and let us know what you think!
The full text of the new edition of The Secret Chief, which MAPS published last year, is now available online. The Secret Chief Revealed reveals, for the first time, the identity of pioneering psychedelic therapist Leo Zeff, which was kept secret in the original The Secret Chief. The book contains the same text as the original with 32 pages of added material including epilogues written by Leo’s children and patients, and a new introduction by Myron Stolaroff. The hard copy version is available in our bookstore.
In the last email update, I reported that the Iboga Therapy House was opening as a for-profit clinic. Although they will charge a nominal fee for treatment, the Iboga Therapy House is a registered not-for-profit in Canada.
Though we haven’t mentioned it until now, Dr. Michael Mithoefer’s MAPS-sponsored MDMA/PTSD study is moving ahead wonderfully. Ten subjects out of the 20 total have completed the testing phase. The last two of the ten will complete their final follow-up exams within the next two months. Then, we will conduct a preliminary data analysis.
Thanks for reading this email update, and for your continued support of MAPS. And now, I’m off to Burning Man.
Program Director and Clinical Research Associate