MAPS Members, Supporters & Friends,
As MAPS’ psychedelic research agenda continues to move forward slowly but surely, it’s gratifying to announce that psychedelic research pioneer Stanislav Grof, MD, has been awarded the prestigious Vision 97 award by former Czech President Vaclav Havel (Item #6). It’s also gratifying that MAPS is continuing its campaign to compel DEA to accept the recent DEA Administrative Law Judge ruling in favor of MAPS’ proposed medical marijuana production facility. This month, we not only sent a letter to DEA signed by 39 organizations (Item #2), we also received confirmation from Massachusetts Senators Kerry and Kennedy that they will send a new letter to DEA urging the agency to accept the Judge’s ruling (Item #1). In the coming months, MAPS and our allies will be encouraging additional Senators to add their names to Kerry and Kennedy’s letter.
This month, we are also including with this update a new podcast interview with MDMA/PTSD researcher Michael Mithoefer, MD, who recently enrolled the first Iraq veteran with PTSD into his flagship MAPS-sponsored study (Item #4).
If you value MAPS’ unique and persistent approach to psychedelic and marijuana research and reform, please consider supporting MAPS by making a (tax-deductible) gift you feel good about at the MAPS Web Store.
MAPS & Medical Marijuana
Upcoming Events & Conferences
MAPS & Medical Marijuana
1. Massachusetts Senators Kerry and Kennedy Commit to Send New Letter to DEA in Support of Prof. Craker
Senior US Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry have agreed to send a new letter to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy urging her agency to accept the recommendation of DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner to grant a Schedule I license to University of Massachusetts professor Lyle Craker, PhD, for his proposed MAPS-sponsored medical marijuana production facility. An independent supply of research-grade medical marijuana is the key prerequisite for MAPS’ plan to conduct the clinical trials necessary to develop marijuana into a legal US FDA-approved prescription medicine. In 2004, before our successful lawsuit against DEA, the duo of Massachusetts Senators sent a similar letter to DEA urging the agency to license Prof. Craker. In the coming months, MAPS and our allies will be targeting several key Senators to add their names to Kerry and Kennedy’s letter, building on the momentum of last month’s letter from 45 US Representatives to DEA in support of Prof. Craker’s proposed facility.
The DEA has no deadline to decide whether to accept or reject Judge Bittner’s non-binding ruling. As a result, we expect that DEA will continue to use its best weapon against medical marijuana research — inaction.
For complete background on this case and the latest news, please visit MAPS’ DEA Lawsuit page.
2. Organizational Sign-On Letter Sent to DEA in Support of Prof. Craker
Today, a letter signed by 39 organizations will be sent to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy, urging her agency to accept Judge Bittner’s ruling in favor of Prof. Craker. Some notable groups on the letter include the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lymphoma Foundation of America, Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, Republican Liberty Caucus, Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights, Doctors for Open Government, National Lawyers Guild, American Association for Social Psychiatry, National Association of People with AIDS, The AIDS Institute, American Academy of HIV Medicine, and U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation. Click here for the full list of organizations that have written to DEA in support of Prof. Craker’s application.
3. UCSF Marijuana/Chronic Pain Study Expands Enrollment Criteria
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Community Consortium, a branch of the Positive Health Program of the University of California-San Francisco Medical Service at San Francisco General Hospital, are sponsoring a study to assess whether using vaporized marijuana affects the safety of prescribed opioids in patients treated for cancer-related pain. Anecdotal reports suggest that the combination of marijuana and opiates offers fewer side effects, reduces the amount of opiates that are needed, and in some cases reduces pain below that obtained by opiates alone. This study will be conducted by Dr. Donald Abrams and will assess the clinical safety of the concomitant use of marijuana and opioids by monitoring the short-term side effects associated with combined therapy.
The enrollment criteria were recently expanded to include subjects with any chronic pain, rather than just cancer-related chronic pain. For more information, see MAPS’ Volunteer for Research page.
Dr. Abrams’ study is an FDA Phase 2 pilot study. While the protocol is designed primarily to evaluate the safety risks of the combination of marijuana and opiates, it will gather some basic information about benefits as well. Unfortunately, though, since this study is funded by NIDA, it is not designed as a drug development study.
4. Iraq War Veteran Enrolled in MAPS-Sponsored US MDMA/PTSD Study
Sixteen out of twenty subjects have completed the double-blind protocol in Dr. Michael Mithoefer’s flagship MAPS-sponsored FDA Phase 2 study evaluating MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for subjects with treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Three new subjects have been enrolled, two of which are close to completion of the first stage of the protocol. One of these new subjects is a US military veteran whose trauma occurred during combat in Iraq.
Last month, MAPS and Dr. Mithoefer submitted a protocol amendment to FDA, seeking approval to treat a 21st subject, also a US veteran with PTSD from the Iraq War. We need FDA permission to deviate from our inclusion criteria that requires all PTSD subjects to be treatment-failures from both drug and non-drug treatments. The request to include a subject who is not a treatment-failure is due to the sad fact that this veteran, like several others with whom we have spoken, has been diagnosed with PTSD but has never been offered individual treatment by the military. Our protocol requires subjects to have attempted treatment without success. The FDA has accepted our request, which we have just submitted to our institutional review board (IRB) for final review.
A couple months ago, I had the chance to conduct a brief interview with Dr. Mithoefer, in which we discuss the details of his study, his working relationship with wife and co-therapist Annie Mithoefer, and his musings on the psychological mechanisms involved in MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Click here to listen.
5. MAPS-Sponsored Swiss MDMA/PTSD Study Treating Fourth Subject
Three subjects have completed the double-blind protocol in Dr. Peter Oehen’s MAPS-sponsored MDMA/PTSD study in Switzerland, and a fourth subject has undergone two out of the three experimental MDMA-assisted psychotherapy sessions.
6. Psychedelic Research Pioneer Stan Grof Receives Prestigious Havel Award
On October 5, the Board of Consultants of the Foundation of Dagmar and Vaclav Havel in Prague, Czech Republic, granted its prestigious award, Vision 97, for the year 2007 to psychiatrist, consciousness researcher, and psychedelic therapy pioneer Stanislav Grof, M.D. in a public ceremony. Former Czech President Vaclav Havel and his wife Dagmar launched their Foundation ten years ago. Besides distributing money for cultural and social purposes, this Foundation focuses on long-term support and organization of projects and programs that aim for the future, have pioneering features, attempt to break down conventions, and strengthen those avenues of science and culture, which at present do not enjoy support of the majority of people or are not comprehensible to them, but which with their consequences can inspire or otherwise meaningfully influence the future. Former recipients of the award include the author Umberto Eco, former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, neurosurgeon Karl H. Pribram, and psychologist Phillip G. Zimbardo.
Last fall, MAPS published Grofs latest book, The Ultimate Journey: Consciousness and the Mystery of Death, available in the MAPS Web Store.
7. AMA’s Weekly Newspaper Asks “Good Outcomes from ‘Club Drugs’?”
On October 1, American Medical News published a feature story describing the recent resurgence in medical research evaluating psychedelics, “Altering Perceptions: Good Outcomes from ‘Club Drugs’?”
MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD, and researchers Michael Mithoefer, MD, John Halpern, MD, and Charles Grob, MD, are interviewed in the article, which sheds a cautious but favorable light on MAPS’ research. American Medical News is a weekly newspaper published by the American Medical Association (AMA) that is circulated to over 230,000 physicians and health policy regulators.
8. Autumn 2007 MAPS Bulletin Now Available Online
The Autumn 2007 MAPS Bulletin, a special edition on the subject “Psychedelics and Self-Discovery,” is now available for viewing on the MAPS Website. Thank you to the thoughtful and generous MAPS members and supporters who submitted articles for this issue. If you are not a MAPS member and would like to receive a printed copy of the tri-annual MAPS Bulletin, please consider joining MAPS today.
9. Shulgin Lab Glassware Now Included with Chamberlain Psychedelic Pioneer Portraits
MAPS is currently raising funds for research by selling signed, limited edition portraits by renowned photographer Dean Chamberlain of psychedelic pioneers Laura Huxley, Ram Dass, and Ann & Sasha Shulgin. For those of you who are considering a Shulgin portrait purchase, there’s now an incredible incentive — Sasha has donated fifty pieces of retired glassware from his lab, so every Chamberlain print purchase will now include a free piece of glassware, along with a certificate of authenticity. This edition of Shulgin prints was created to help fund MAPS-sponsored MDMA research. Fifty percent of the profits from the sale of these prints will go toward this research, raising a minimum of $25,000. For more information and to purchase, please visit the Psychedelic and Visionary Art section of the MAPS Webstore.
10. MAPS Board Member Shawn Hailey Donates $150,000 to MAPS
Earlier this month, MAPS Board Member Shawn Hailey made a donation of $150,000 to MAPS. We are deeply grateful to Shawn for his strong support. While MAPS still has a lot more money to raise, this is an enormous boost. Thank you, Shawn!
11. Helios Foundation Donates $5,000 to MAPS for New Edition of LSD Psychotherapy
The Helios Foundation donated $5,000 to MAPS for the re-printing of a new edition of Stan Grof’s seminal text LSD Psychotherapy, with a new introduction by Albert Hofmann. The Helios Foundation was established by the family of MAPS member John Buchanan.
Upcoming Events & Conferences
12. MAPS Fundraising Receptions in South Florida (10/15), Houston (10/30), and New York City (11/4)
Over the next few weeks, MAPS will be holding a series of fundraising events throughout the country to get input from members and build support for the slate of MAPS-sponsored research projects in the pipeline. By participating in these events, you can play a crucial role in furthering the psychedelic research renaissance and medical marijuana research efforts that MAPS is spearheading. At each event, beer, wine, and a scrumptious assortment of hors d’oeuvres will be served, and a live fire performance will amaze your senses.
On Monday, October 15, a generous MAPS supporter is hosting a special fundraising reception for MAPS at his home in Delray Beach, FL. The purpose of this reception is to kick off the campaign to fund a ground-breaking study nearing final approval that will take place in Miami. This MAPS-sponsored study will be an FDA Phase 2 clinical trial evaluating psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of anxiety secondary to advanced stage melanoma. The study will cost $50,000, all of which needs to be raised. MAPS President Rick Doblin, Ph.D. and Sameet Kumar, Ph.D., the principal investigator for the proposed study, will present at the reception and be available to talk one-on-one with you. We will get started at 7:30 p.m. The minimum donation to attend this special reception is $250 per person. Please RSVP by making your tax-deductible donation at the MAPS Web Store and type “Delray Beach reception” and the number of spaces you are reserving in the notes field at the end of the checkout process.
On Tuesday, October 30, a generous MAPS supporter is hosting a special fundraising reception for MAPS at his home in Houston, TX. MAPS President Rick Doblin will present at the reception and be available to talk one-on-one. We will get started at 7:30 p.m. The minimum donation to attend this special reception is $200 per person. Please RSVP by making your tax-deductible donation at the MAPS Web Store and type “Houston reception” and the number of spaces you are reserving in the notes field at the end of the checkout process.
On Sunday, November 4, MAPS will be holding a similar evening fundraising reception in New York City, with details still to be determined. Rick Doblin will speak at the event, along with Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann, PhD. City area members, keep an eye out for a special email announcement with details soon!
13. Horizons: A One-Day Psychedelic Conference in New York City: Oct. 27
Join MAPS President Rick Doblin, MAPS-sponsored researchers Michael Mithoefer and Andrew Sewell, psychiatrist Julie Holland, artists Alex & Allyson Gray, Ethan Nadelmann, and others at “Horizons: Contemporary Perspectives on Psychedelics” on October 27 at Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village from 12-7 pm. Proceeds from the conference will be donated to MAPS and the other non-profit organizations involved with the event.
MAPS is looking for two volunteers to staff a MAPS table at the Horizons event. If you are interested, please contact us.
For information on the conference, speaker bios, and tickets, please visit the Horizons conference site.
14. The Second Annual Clusterbusters Convention in Austin, TX: Oct. 26-28
MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD, and researchers Andrew Sewell, MD, and John Halpern, MD, will be presenting at the second annual Clusterbusters Convention in Austin, Texas, from October 26-28. The conference will cover ongoing research into new cluster headache treatments using a wide range of alternative methods, including the psychedelic drugs LSA, LSD, and psilocybin, and other natural treatment options such as kudzu and taurine. The conference is also an opportunity for people with cluster headaches to meet one another, and to get tips and advice from other sufferers that many people will not hear from their doctors.
For more information and to register, please visit the conference Website.
15. The 2007 International Drug Policy Reform Conference in New Orleans, LA: Dec. 5-8
This December 5-8, MAPS will join hundreds of other drug policy reformers in New Orleans for the biennial International Drug Policy Reform conference, hosted by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).
At the conference, I (Jag Davies) will be giving two formal presentations on MAPS’ work. First, I will describe MAPS’ efforts to develop marijuana into an FDA-approved prescription medicine in a panel on the federal government’s “war on medical marijuana” moderated by Allen Hopper, litigation director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Drug Law Reform Project, which has represented Professor Lyle Craker since 2005. Second, I will summarize the current status of MAPS’ psychedelic research agenda as part of a panel on psychedelics moderated by Jodie Evans, co-founder of Codepink: Women for Peace.
DPA is the leading organization in the US working to end the War on Drugs and envision new drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights. We are grateful to have DPA as an ally in the struggle to create rational alternatives to prohibition-based policy.
If you are a MAPS supporter who will be attending, we are looking for volunteers to help staff the MAPS table during the conference. If you are interested, please contact us.
16. The 2008 World Psychedelic Forum in Basel, Switzerland: March 21-24
Along with Gaia Media, MAPS will be co-sponsoring the 2008 World Psychedelic Forum, which will be held in Basel, Switzerland from March 21-24. Gaia Media is the organization that put together the Spirit of Basel symposium in honor of Albert Hofmann’s 100th birthday in January, 2006.
For those of you in the Basel area, Gaia Media will be hosting a talk in Basel on January 26 featuring Rick Doblin, MAPS-sponsored MDMA/PTSD researcher Peter Oehen, MD, MAPS-sponsored LSD/end-of-life anxiety researcher Peter Gasser, MD, and MAPS Patron Member Vanja Palmers. Stay tuned in for more details.
MAPS has four government-approved first-of-their-kind FDA Phase II clinical studies underway around the world evaluating psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, with several more nearing approval — all seeking to make psychedelics available as prescription medicines. The dream of weaving psychedelics and marijuana responsibly into the fabric of medicine and society seems more and more like a question of “when,” not “if.”
For decades the government was the biggest obstacle to research. Now that long-awaited research is finally being approved, the formidable challenge is funding it. At present, there is no funding available from governments, pharmaceutical companies, or major foundations. That means that for the time being, the future of psychedelic and marijuana research rests in the hands of people like you.
The future is in our hands. Throw your weight behind MAPS’ work today.
Thank you for your generosity and foresight.
Jag Davies, MAPS Director of Communications