Greetings MAPS Members and Friends:
From suing the DEA to burning the man, this has been a productive month at MAPS. And now, the news:
1. Ask Your Representative to Sign-On to Letter Urging DEA to Approve UMass Amherst License to Grow Medical Marijuana
2. MDMA/PTSD Research Progressing Around the World
3. MDMA/Cancer Anxiety Study Stalled Until Safe Is Inspected
4. Dr. Donald Abrams Releases Results for Vaporizer Study
5. Second Round of DEA hearings Postponed to December
6. Study Finds No Link Between Smoking Marijuana and Lung Cancer
7. MAPS and Burning Man–Looking Forward to Our 20th Years
8. New Book Available in MAPS Bookstore
9. Still Seeking Donations for Auction Items
A congressional sign-on letter
In Switzerland, Dr. Peter Oehen is actively developing a protocol for an MDMA/PTSD study to be submitted before October 15 to an ethics committee. This study will be jointly funded by the Swiss Association for Psycholytic Therapy and MAPS. 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. In Israel, Dr. Moshe Kotler’s protocol for an MDMA/PTSD study with survivors of war and terrorism is moving through the Ministry of Health, after receiving approval from a local ethics committee at the Beer Yaakov Mental Health Center where the study will take place. MAPS has signed a contract with the Ministry of Health and we expect to learn whether the protocol is fully approved within the next month or two. Dr. Michael Mithoefer’s MDMA/PTSD study in Charleston, SC is almost halfway completed, generating very promising results, and is still recruiting subjects.
We were hoping to report that DEA officials had already inspected the locked and alarmed safe which is to protect several grams of MDMA at the site of Dr. John Halpern’s MAPS-sponsored study of MDMA in the treatment of anxiety in advanced-stage cancer patients at Harvard’s McLean Hospital. Inspection of the safe is hopefully the last step in obtaining a DEA Schedule I license for this project. Unfortunately, we have just learned that this site visit, which had initially been scheduled for September 22, has been postponed to October 14, the first time that both DEA and members of the research team were all available. We’re slowly moving forward.
In related news, we have received a touching letter from the mother of a daughter who benefited from using MDMA while dying of cancer. This letter was given to MAPS to pass on to Laura Huxley, as Laura’s book, This Timeless Moment, was influential during the woman’s dying process, and highlights the need to go forward with this study. With the mother’s permission, we have posted this letter on the MAPS website.
Laura Huxley has signed 50 copies of Dean Chamberlain’s portrait of her, with half the profits from the sale of the portraits being donated to MAPS for research into the use of psychedelics by people facing end-of-life issues. Laura’s portrait, of which three have already been sold, can be purchased from the MAPS store.
At the September 9-10, 2005, International Association for Cannabis as Medicine 3rd Conference in Leiden, Holland, Mr. Hector Vizoso, study coordinator for Dr. Donald Abrams, discussed the results for their clinical trial in humans comparing cannabinoid blood levels, carbon monoxide levels, and subjective effects in subjects who smoke and at other times vaporize marijuana (with the Volcano vaporizer). When subjects used vaporizers, the study found reductions in blood carbon monoxide levels as compared to smoking. In addition, the study showed that the vaporizer produced reliable levels of cannabinoids. The study also found that more subjects preferred vaporizing over smoking. This study was funded by a grant of about $136,000 from the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR). MAPS and CaNORML contributed an additional $100,000 on preliminary laboratory data analyzing the content of the vapors produced by the Volcano vaporizer. A scientific paper reporting on the results will be published later.
The second round of DEA hearings in the case of Professor Lyle Craker v. DEA previously scheduled for September 26-30, was postponed by DEA request to December 12-16, over our objections. The reasons for the delay were construction in the DEA headquarters that made the courtroom too noisy, and that the DEA’s lead lawyer was having a family emergency which wouldn’t allow him time to prepare for the case. Although it is disappointing, this postponement gives us more time to work on obtaining signatures for a Congressional sign-on letter (see next item).
At issue in the case is whether the DEA properly rejected an application from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to manufacture cannabis for FDA-approved research. The DEA waited more than three years before officially denying the University’s request, stating that the establishment of such a facility “would not be consistent with the public interest.” Respondents in the case are challenging the DEA’s denial, arguing that a private production facility is in the public interest (as defined by the US Controlled Substances Act) because it would encourage competition in the marketplace and promote technological and scientific advancement in the field of medicine.
Dr. Donald Tashkin, of the UCLA School of Medicine, recently released results of a large-scale case-controlled study that found marijuana use–even heavy pot smoking–was not linked with lung cancer. In fact, among the more than 1,200 people studied, those who had smoked marijuana, but not cigarettes, appeared to have a lower risk for lung cancer than those who had smoked neither. This finding, if confirmed by other studies, doesn’t mean that smoking marijuana has no risks. MAPS’ Clinical Plan for medical marijuana research involves studies that will test smoked marijuana as well as vaporized marijuana so that the risks and benefits of each delivery system can be compared directly.
MAPS had a very successful time at Burning Man this year, so successful that we’ve decided to celebrate our 20th anniversary in Black Rock City with a gathering at Burning Man in 2006. Coincidentally, Burning Man will also be celebrating its 20th anniversary next year! We’re hoping to have several hundred people camping with us for MAPS’ 20th anniversary gathering, both experienced and new Burners.
This year we hosted the MAPS/Palenque Norte lectures from the MAPS theme camp on the Esplanade. The lectures had an amazing turnout, at times filling our 60-foot diameter dome beyond capacity. Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding, these lectures were not recorded as we had hoped.
MAPS also assisted the Rangers by providing experienced volunteers who offered psychedelic emergency services at the sanctuary dome, a place where people overwhelmed in one way or another by their experiences at Burning Man are brought by the Rangers, or come by themselves, to receive supportive assistance.
This year, we had more volunteers than ever, with a large number of people from our theme camp participating in one way or another, whether volunteering for a shift, donating supplies, or making camp-cooked meals for the Sanctuary staff. This larger support network allowed the Rangers at Sanctuary and MAPS volunteers to assist almost 100 visitors in Sanctuary this year, at least 34 of which were psychedelic-related, and 7 more were probably related.
We will be collaborating with the same group of Chicago BopCamp Burners again next year, providing even more psychedelic-themed arts and entertainment and expanding the MAPS/Palenque Norte lecture series with a longer list of (recorded) psychedelic lectures.
Thank you to everyone who made MAPS’ third year our best year at Burning Man so far. Please consider participating in our camp next year, and keep reading the email updates for information about joining. We’ll be offering opportunities to participate in a shared food plan and we will have a large area for camping together on the Esplanade. We’re inviting/gathering people who helped in the creation of MAPS, psychedelic and medical marijuana researchers, and all MAPS members and friends. We will feature some presentations/discussions reviewing MAPS strategy for the next 20 years in light of MAPS accomplishments and failures over the last twenty years! We’re also hoping to join together with visionary artist Alex Grey and display his artwork from a special dome in our camp. Come see MAPS in action, helping transform psychedelic emergencies to beneficial experiences, offering lectures about the state-of-the-art in psychedelic and marijuana research, and building community.
Higher Wisdom: Eminent Elders Explore the Continuing Impact of Psychedelics, edited by Roger Walsh and Charles Grob, is now available for sale in the MAPS bookstore
That concludes this month’s email update.