MDMA/PTSD Research Goes to Vancouver – MAPS News: September 2009
Dear MAPS’ Supporters and Friends,
We are gearing up for our newest study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Vancouver. On October 24, we will be hosting a benefit dinner in downtown Vancouver and we hope that if you are in the area you will join us and that you will encourage your friends to be there too. MAPS Executive Director Rick Doblin, Ph.D. and our Vancouver research team will give presentations about the project over a light tapas dinner. More information about the benefit dinner is below.
We have more news below about Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century, the conference we are hosting in San Jose, California, from April 15-18, 2010. We have opened a call for proposals for presentations at the conference. In the coming weeks we will be sending you an email about ticket sales and hotel registration.
This is a robust newsletter this month with an abundance of information about our research projects. You will also find lots of opportunities for you to get involved with MAPS and our sister organizations. Don’t forget, we rely on your support in order to conduct our research and to perform our educational objectives.
Randolph Hencken, M.A.
Director of Marketing and Communication
Here’s a sample of what is happening this month at MAPS:
- Fundraising News:
- John Gilmore Donates $200,000 to MAPS
- Stan Grof’s Ultimate Journey Reprint Benefits from Helios Foundation’s $2500 Donation
- Canadian MDMA/PTSD study: Application to Import MDMA Submitted
- MDMA/PTSD Research Reported in Canadian Globe and Mail
- New Hospital Found for Jordanian MDMA/PTSD Study
- MAPS Executive Director Rick Doblin Meets with Israeli MDMA/PTSD Team
- US MDMA/PTSD Pilot Study Manuscript Rejected by Journal
- Second Productive Teleconference with the U.S. FDA about MDMA Therapist Training Protocol
- LSD Annual Report Submitted to the U.S. FDA
- First Circuit Court of Appeals Third Status Update Submitted in Prof. Craker’s Marijuana Production Facility Case
- Israeli Medical Marijuana Production Status Update
- Join us for a Benefit for our MDMA/PTSD study in Vancouver, October 24
- Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century: Call for Proposals
- Can you Donate Items to MAPS for our Holiday Auction?
- Do you have Art to Donate to MAPS?
- Join up with MAPS in the Web 2.0 World
- Join MAPS at 2009 Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) International Drug Policy Reform Conference
- Third Annual Horizons Conference in NYC, Sept. 25-27
- Science and Nonduality Conference in San Rafael, CA, Oct 21-25
- Women’s Visionary Congress in Mendocino County, CA, Oct 2-4
- Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century: More Researchers to Present
- Entheon Village 2009: A Pleasant Success
- Legendary Good Friday Experiment Sermon now Online
- Read MAPS Summer Bulletin Online
Medical Marijuana News:
* * * 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 August 13, 2009, MAPS received a remarkably generous donation of $200,000 from MAPS’ Board of Directors member John Gilmore. Over the past ten years, John has given away $1 million a year to various drug policy reform causes. This is the 10th year of John’s 10-year plan to give away $10 million dollars to drug policy reform. John believes that the most important progress that his philanthropy has catalyzed has been medical psychedelics and medical marijuana.
John will continue to serve on MAPS’ Board of Directors, donating his intellectual capital to refine our strategies and operations. Our challenge over the next year is to find new donors who can make up for the funds that we will no longer be receiving from John. John’s support has been crucial to our current successes and developments. We would not be as effective of an organization as we are today had it not been for John’s financial gifts and wisdom on our Board. We know we have many challenges ahead of us, but John has provided us with the tools we need to meet those challenges. We are extremely grateful for John’s support, loyalty, and friendship.
Longtime MAPS member John Buchanan’s family foundation, the Helios Foundation, has graciously donated $2500 to MAPS for the reprinting of Stanislav Grof’s book, The Ultimate Journey: Consciousness and the Mystery of Death. In the past, the Helios Foundation has also given financial support to the printing of LSD My Problem Child by Albert Hofmann, Ph.D. and to the creation of MAPS’ Psychedelic Crisis educational video.
Reprinting The Ultimate Journey will cost approximately $12,000. We are looking for additional support to subsidize this important book relating to psychedelic psychotherapy for end-of-life issues, one of MAPS’ core areas of research. Any donor who supports the forthcoming edition will be acknowledged in the book.
We are in the final stages of getting our Canadian MDMA/PTSD study up and running. At the beginning of this month, Colin Holyk from Kerrisdale Pharmacy went to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to be fingerprinted and have a criminal records background check as part of the process to become licensed to import MDMA into Canada. He has now applied to Health Canada for the license. We do not know how long it will take Health Canada to process his application, but we hope it will not be more than a month. After the pharmacist receives his license to import, we will obtain a specific import and export permit to have the roughly 7 grams of MDMA shipped to Vancouver from Switzerland. MAPS clinical research team is currently preparing documents for a pre-initiation site visit to take place on Thursday October 22.
On September 2, 2009, the popular British Columbian Globe and Mail newspaper ran an article about MAPS’ planned MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) study, to take place in Vancouver, BC. The article titled, Landmark B.C. study lets trauma suffers find relief with ecstasy was written by Frances Bula, who presented a concise overview of the study to Canadian readers. As a result of this article, Ingrid Pacey, M.D. the Principal Investigator of the study, received a deluge of media inquiries and even discussed the study on Canadian National TV.
On Thursday, August 13, 2009, MAPS Executive Director Rick Doblin Ph.D. visited Amman, Jordan to further explore MAPS’ planned Jordanian MDMA/PTSD study. Principal Investigator Dr. Nasser Shuriquie, who had been working for the Royal Jordanian Medical Services at the Jordanian Military Hospital in Amman, has taken a new position as the medical director of Al-Rashid Hospital, the first and largest psychiatric hospital in Jordan. Rick visited with Nasser at Al-Rashid and met with the hospital administrator Dr. Rifat Dadawi Al-Masri. After discussions and a tour of the facilities, Rick concluded that Al-Rashid Hospital would be an excellent place to conduct our study.
While in Jordan, Rick was introduced by Nasser to representatives of Clinquest JO, a clinical research organization that assists pharmaceutical companies with conducting clinical studies in accordance with Jordanian and international standards of clinical research. The representatives are General Manager Maha Tutunji, M.D. and Managing Director Kamilla Novak, M.D. It is likely that MAPS will hire Clinquest to conduct data and study monitoring and manage Jordanian regulatory affairs. This will make conducting the study in Jordan more economical and convenient. The next steps for the Jordanian study are to finalize the protocol design elements for budgeting and submission to regulatory authorities in Jordan.
MAPS’ lead researcher Michael Mithoefer M.D. and Rick are planning a visit to Jordan on October 20, to speak to Nasser and associates about the results of our US study and our treatment method. This visit is timed so Michael and Rick can also attend an international scientific conference on PTSD taking place in Israel.
On August 12, 2009, MAPS Executive Director Rick Doblin, Ph.D. met with Moshe Kotler, M.D., Principal Investigator of our Israeli MDMA/PTSD study. The two of them discussed the progress of the study and other administrative matters.
On August 24, Rick met with lead psychiatrist Sergio Marchevsky, M.D., and co-therapist Tali Nachoni, M.D. of the MAPS-sponsored Israeli MDMA/PTSD research team. They discussed the status of the fourth subject being treated in the study. Sergio reported to Rick that he felt more comfortable conducting MDMA-assisted psychotherapy after the therapist training seminar that took place in Austria this past June. Rick and Sergio further discussed plans to accelerate enrollment of subjects into the study, which is designed for 12 subjects.
While meeting with Sergio, Rick noticed a poster on the wall announcing an international scientific conference on PTSD to take place in Jerusalem in late October. Rick and MAPS lead researcher Michael Mithoefer, M.D., are now planning to attend that conference, at which Michael will present a poster about the results of our US MDMA/PTSD study.
We learned a few weeks ago that the Archives of General Psychiatry rejected our manuscript about MAPS flagship U.S. MDMA/PTSD pilot study. While we are very disappointed that the paper was rejected, we knew that it would be a long shot since this is the leading journal in the field of psychiatry and it has a conservative reputation. While some of the reviewer’s comments were quite insightful, other comments about MDMA’s safety and the study design were simply mistaken. We are in the process of taking the insightful comments into consideration and rewriting the paper for submission to a new journal.
On August 12, 2009, MAPS Researchers Michael Mithoefer, M.D., Ilsa Jerome, Ph.D., Amy Emerson, Valerie Mojeiko, and Rick Doblin Ph.D. had a second teleconference about our MDMA-therapist training protocol with officials in the FDA’s Division of Psychiatric Products. The FDA requested that we add additional psychiatric measures for pre-and post-MDMA administration and that we design the study with a double-blind, placebo-controlled methodology. The alterations to the protocol will more rigorously examine the psychological effects of MDMA on healthy volunteers. We will be permitted to limit subjects to the therapists in our training program who will conduct Phase 2 and Phase 3 MDMA/PTSD studies. Our research team is in the process of modifying the protocol according to the FDA’s requests and will be submitting a new version within the next week. We expect to obtain approval from FDA upon our next submission and will then submit the protocol to our Institutional Review Board.
On August 28, 2009, we submitted an annual report to the FDA about MAPS’ LSD research. Annual reports are designed to give the FDA an overview of new developments. We reported on the progress from the first 4 subjects out of an eventual 12 in our Swiss LSD/end-of-life study. We were able to report that there were no drug-related Serious Adverse Events (SAEs) and that our research was conducted safely. It’s too early to say anything about efficacy.
On September 4, 2009, Professor Lyle Craker, Ph.D.’s ACLU Drug Law Reform Project lawyers filed the third Status Update with the U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit. The update reports on the DEA’s lack of response to the witness and document list filed with the DEA on June 5, 2009, in support of Prof. Craker’s Motion to Reconsider the DEA’s Final Ruling. The lawyers are asking the Court to hold the appellate proceedings in abeyance until we learn the DEA’s final decision. The DEA’s final order was scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2009, but the DEA lawyers have previously indicated that it is not unusual to have a Motion to Reconsider still pending after the effective date of a final agency order.
For the first time since we began this court case in 2001, we are in alignment with the DEA’s tactic of delay. We have read rumors that Obama is considering appointing new leadership at the DEA from outside of the current DEA. Hopefully, any new leadership replacing the Bush-holdovers who are still running the DEA will reverse the rejection of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)’s recommendation to license Prof. Craker.
Craker’s lawyers are required to file a status report with the Court of Appeals every 60 days until a decision is finalized by the DEA. These status report filings preserve Craker’s right to appeal should the DEA deny him a license to grow marijuana for research purposes at UMASS Amherst, under contract to MAPS.
On August 24, 2009, MAPS Executive Director Rick Doblin, Ph.D. met with Israeli Ministry of Health official Yehuda Baruch, M.D. who is in charge of the Ministry’s medical marijuana program. Boaz Wachtel, an Israeli medical marijuana activist, was also at the meeting. They discussed various issues regarding the expansion of the Israeli medical marijuana program. Currently, there are a handful of marijuana producers licensed to grow marijuana and give the product away to about 500 licensed medical marijuana patients. In order to create a sustainable business model, there will need to be a transition to allowing the producers to sell their product. However, it seems that the transition to sales will not be imminent. There will need to be more work done to persuade the Ministry of Health that selling the medicine to patients is an appropriate course of action. Despite no guarantee of future sales, the various producers are taking on investors in hopes of building for-profit businesses. Consequently, MAPS has stopped donating money to Israeli production facilities. MAPS is still trying to help support medical marijuana research in Israel by urging the Ministry to approve sales as soon as possible.
While in Israel Rick heard good news about several current studies investigating clinical applications for medical marijuana. Among the studies taking place are a study with patients with Crohn’s disease and patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The PTSD study will use THC drops as opposed to smoked marijuana. Raphael Mechoulam, Ph.D, who was the first scientist to isolate and identify THC as the active ingredient in marijuana, developed the THC drops. Nearly a decade later he led the team that identified the endocannabinoid anandamide, part of an endogenous cannabinoid system in the human nervous system.
On Saturday October 24, 2009, from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM, MAPS will be hosting a benefit dinner for our Canadian MDMA/PTSD trial. Please join us for an evening of discussions, presentations, and a light tapas dinner at the Century-Plaza Hotel in downtown Vancouver at 1015 Burrard Street. You can help fill the house by letting your contacts know about the event.
Our call for proposals for Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century is officially open. The priority deadline for proposal submissions is November 30, 2009.
- We encourage you to submit a proposal if you:
- Have tested a hypothesis by collecting and analyzing data in a scientifically rigorous manner about psychedelic drugs, psychedelic experiences, or a related issue.
- Have (a) case report(s) about psychedelic drugs or psychedelic experiences, and the report(s) would add to the body of knowledge being presented at the conference.
- Are an expert on a therapeutic technique that is applicable to psychedelic psychotherapy.
- Are an expert on psychedelic crisis intervention techniques.
- Are an expert on how to help people who misuse psychedelic drugs.
- Are an expert in a unique area related to psychedelic drugs that is not represented by other speakers.
To submit a proposal, fill out the presenter application form on the conference page of our website
or mail it to:
309 Cedar Street #2323
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
MAPS has been given a week at a vacation home in France, a library of books, and a selection of art to auction off at our online holiday auction. Do you have something of value that you could spare to help raise funds for psychedelic and medical marijuana research? We understand that at this time of economic crisis not everyone can continue to give financially. Perhaps you have something else of value that you could give to our online auction, which will take place in November. Your support will be greatly appreciated.
MAPS has recently begun to make a strong presence on Web 2.0 and we would love it if you joined us on a variety of social networking sites. On Facebook, you can connect with MAPS by visiting our Fan Page (make sure to click Become a Fan at the top of the page) and also by joining the official MAPS Facebook group. Watch our videos on Youtube, and check out our new redesigned Myspace page. You can also stay up-to-date with our micro-blog by following MAPS on Twitter. MAPS would like to encourage you to use these tools to connect with other MAPS members and allies, to share articles relevant to our work, and to engage new friends in the MAPS community in discussion.
From November 12-14, 2009, MAPS will be co-hosting the Drug Policy Alliance’s International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. MAPS is working with a number of other organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Marijuana Policy Project, and many others to bring together all kinds of people who are interested in rethinking drugs and drug policy in the 21st century.
The Third Annual Horizons Conference will take place from September 25 to 27, at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Experts from across North America and Europe will gather to discuss the ongoing renaissance in the exploration of psychedelic drugs. Presenters include medical researchers such as Stephen Ross, M.D. (Principal Investigator of the new NYU Psilocybin study), Franz X. Vollenweider, M.D. (U. of Zurich), William Richards, Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins), and Alicia Danforth (UCLA), as well as Valerie Mojeiko (MAPS), Earth & Fire Erowid (founders of Erowid.org, the world’s largest psychotropic drug information resource), and other world-renowned artists, religious scholars, bestselling authors, and other key players.
There will also be a reception party on Friday, September 25, from 8pm-Midnight. The reception is free with a Horizons ticket and will be a delightful evening of celebration, art, performance and friends — featuring some of the finest creative talent in the psychedelic community.
MAPS supporters may be interested in attending the Science and Nonduality Conference Oct 21- 25, 2009 at the Embassy Suites & Marin Civic Center in San Rafael, California. Part seminar, part festival, part conference, this event will explore how science combines with meditation, philosophy, art, music, dance, and entheogens to point the way to nondual experience, to aid in integrating nonduality into daily life, and to deepen the understanding of a fundamental nondual reality. Over 100 leading scientists, nondual spiritual practitioners, artists, philosophers, and others will come together to transform the way people see themselves, the universe, and reality itself.
Speakers include: Stuart Hameroff, Fred Alan Wolf, Henry Stapp, Stephen Wolinsky, Tom Ray, Francis Lucille, Peter Russell, Rupert Spira, Amit Goswani, Marilyn Schlitz, Shaikh Kabir Helminski, Peter Fenner, Rabbi Hoffman, Daniel Pinchbeck, Olga Louchakova, Dean Radin and others.
There is a special offer of reduced ticket price for readers of this newsletter: enter the code MAPS in the coupon window on the shopping cart and get a $ 45 discount on the registration.
To learn more please visit: www.ScienceAndNonduality.com
The 2009 Women’s Visionary Congress (WVC) will take place from October 2 – 4 at Black Oak Ranch in Mendocino County, CA. The WVC features the work of visionary women healers, scholars, activists and artists who explore the leading edge of consciousness and sustainable social change. The gathering supports the transfer of knowledge among women who apply the insights of their spiritual path. Speakers at the 2009 WVC include Val Corral, Carolyn Garcia, Allyson Grey, La Laurrien, Mariavittoria Mangini, Nicki Scully and Annie Sprinkle.
Tickets can also be purchased via PayPal on the WVC website: http://www.visionarycongress.org/index.html
We have just received confirmation that representatives from New York University’s psilocybin research team will present at Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century the Continuing Medical Education (CME) conference that MAPS is hosting from April 15 to 18, 2010 in San Jose, California. The research team’s principal investigator Stephen Ross, M.D. and one of his colleagues will present preliminary findings from their research with psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy including effects of psilocybin-induced peak/mystical experiences on the existential and psychospiritual suffering of patients with cancer.
Several weeks ago, we also received confirmation that William Richards, Ph.D., and Roland Griffiths, Ph.D. will be presenting at the conference. We now have representatives presenting at the conference from every currently ongoing psychedelic psychotherapy research project in humans from around the world of which we are aware.
Plus, we just added Ralph Metzner, Ph.D. to the non-CME track of the conference! Registration is opening this month. We will be sending out a registration announcement soon and hope that you will take advantage of the early bird pricing options.
Entheon Village enjoyed a delightful incarnation at Burning Man 2009. This year there were 268 people in the village, about half the size of last year. The management team, led by Andrea Olson with support from a Council, was able to apply lessons learned from previous years to make the infrastructure a better experience for the villagers. The Burning Man organization appears to view the village more favorably after a few debacles from last year were overcome this year. From all indications in preliminary accounting, Entheon Village came in under budget. It looks quite likely there will be another incarnation of the village in 2010.
MAPS provided accounting services for Entheon Village along with the installation of the zendo and a tipi. MAPS Executive Director Rick Doblin Ph.D. spoke at Entheon Village and at Nexus Camp this year in order to spread the word about MAPS, and met with several MAPS donors who were in attendance.
In 1962, the legendary Good Friday Experiment that took place in Marsh Chapel at Boston University demonstrated that psilocybin can catalyze mystical experiences in religiously-inclined people who take it within a religious setting. For the first time since the service itself, the stirring Good Friday service by Reverend Howard Thurman (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s mentor) is available for listening. Rev. Thurman’s sermon and service are powerfully moving on their own, without any chemical enhancement.
In addition MAPS has posted Dr. Walter Pahnke’s thesis about the Good Friday Experiment and MAPS Executive Director Rick Doblin, Ph.D.’s paper on his 25-year follow-up to the original experiment. With the recent psilocybin/mystical experience research by Roland Griffiths, M.D. and William Richards, M.D. at Johns Hopkins University, the scientific study of the mystical experience is starting to flourish in the 21st Century. Eva Pahnke, Walter’s widow, gave the tape of Rev. Thurman to Rick over 20 years ago.
The Good Friday Experiment Sermon is also archived on MAPS Audio/Video webpage.
MAPS’ summer Bulletin was sent to MAPS members this past month. The summer edition was reduced in size in order to reallocate funds to our expanding number of research projects. The winter Bulletin will be a magazine-size publication and the spring 2010 issue will be another special theme issue, this time on psychedelics, death, and dying.
This latest Bulletin is available online and features an important letter by MAPS Executive Director Rick Doblin, Ph.D., updates on our various research projects, information about the Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century conference, and an introduction to Robert J. Barnhart, our new board member.
You should also visit MAPS on youtube, myspace, twitter, and facebook.
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