Greetings MAPS Members and Friends,
Here is this month’s news from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies:
1. MAPS/UMass-Amherst Congressional Sign-On Letter Extended to December 5th
2. Next MAPS Bulletin at the Printer
3. Dr. John Halpern’s Study of Psychological and Cognitive Effects of Peyote Use to Appear in Biological Psychiatry
4. US MDMA/PTSD Study Enrolls Two More Subjects
5. Swiss MDMA/PTSD Study Submitted to Ethics Committee
6. DEA Agent Visits Site of MDMA/Cancer Anxiety Study at Harvard
7. Update on MAPS 20th Anniversary Celebration at Burning Man 2006
8. MAPS in the Media: Mother Jones Magazine
9. MAPS 2006 Wall Calendar Now Available
10. New Books Available Soon
11. More Art Signed by Albert Hofmann: Alex Grey and Dean Chamberlain Prints
12. Still Seeking Donations for MAPS Auction
13. Recent Donations to MAPS: Thank you!
We have now obtained 29 Congressional co-signers to Congressman John Olver’s letter to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy. The letter urges DEA to grant a license to Prof. Lyle Craker, Ph.D., UMass Amherst, for a MAPS-sponsored marijuana production facility, and to end the federal monopoly on the supply of marijuana that can be used in research. However, many Representatives are sitting on the fence and waiting to hear from constituents before deciding whether to sign the letter. Urge your local representative to sign-on! We need your help in the form of phone calls, letters or even emails to your Representative. Here’s how to find your member of the House of Representatives.
We have created a background information page where you can read Congressman Olver’s letter to DEA, the list of other Representatives who have signed-on, and other useful materials. You can make a difference by calling your Representative (202 224- 2131 is the Congressional switchboard, just ask for your Representative and then ask to speak to the Legislative Assistant (LA) for health policy), then follow-up with a letter or send an email.
The deadline for the Congressional sign-on letter is December 5. One week later, on December 12, the second round of hearings begins in Prof. Craker’s lawsuit against DEA, being heard before DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner. Dr. Craker’s facility is a prerequisite to beginning MAPS-sponsored clinical trials into the risks and benefits of marijuana as a potential FDA-approved prescription medicine. Until we have access to an adequate and uninterrupted supply of high-grade marijuana of a strain of our own choosing, it doesn’t make sense to launch an expensive drug development research effort. After the Supreme Court’s ruling in Raich v. Ashcroft (view our amicus curiae brief in that case) against states’ rights and medical marijuana last June 2004, it is now more important than ever that the DEA allow privately-funded FDA-approved research to evaluate and hopefully establish the medicinal value of this versatile drug.
The Winter 2005-2006 issue of the MAPS Bulletin is at the printer now, and will be arriving in mailboxes in late November. This bulletin does not have a specific theme but offers a comprehensive overview of MAPS current projects. It is my first time editing the bulletin – our previous editor, ex-MAPS-staffer Brandy Doyle, left a very high standard that will be hard to match. I will try my best.
Dr. John Halpern’s study of psychological and cognitive effects of Native Americans who use peyote will appear in the November 4 issue of Biological Psychiatry (Vol 58/8 pp 624-631). This study compared three groups of Native Americans: those who regularly ingested peyote; those with past alcohol dependence, but currently sober for at least two months; and those reporting minimal use of peyote, alcohol, or other substances. Neuropsychological tests of memory and attentional/executive functions showed that the peyote group had no significant deficits compared to the minimal use group, while the alcohol group showed significant deficits. Here is the link to the abstract.
The 10th and 11th subjects out of an eventual 20 were recently enrolled in Michael Mithoefer’s, M.D., study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder in Charleston, South Carolina. After obtaining IRB approval, Dr. Mithoefer has begun videotaping, in addition to audiotaping, the treatment sessions. These videotapes and audiotapes will be helpful in creating a treatment manual for future MDMA-psychotherapy studies, and will provide additional data for further research projects. In the next bulletin, you can read about the first such study using these videotapes, a psychotherapy process study which examines MDMA’s effect on defense mechanisms, being conducted by Pal Johansen at the Trondheim Psychotherapy Research Program at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
On October 8, the protocol for Peter Oehen’s, M.D., MDMA/PTSD study to take place in Switzerland was submitted to an ethics committee, and it will be reviewed by this committee on October 31. 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. MAPS researchers and staff will be meeting with Dr. Oehen in January when we travel to Basel, Switzerland to celebrate Albert Hofmann’s 100th birthday at the LSD symposium. At this meeting, we will discuss where the study will be conducted and where the protocol is at in the approval process. MAPS Clinical Program Manager Amy Emerson may also come for a site visit at this time, depending on how far along the investigator is with the approval process.
On Friday, October 14, a DEA field investigator visited the site of a MAPS-sponsored study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety related to advanced stage cancer directed by John Halpern, M.D., at Harvard Medical Schools McLean Hospital. The agent inspected the alarmed safe which will be used to hold up to 4 grams (24 standard doses) of MDMA for the study. The agent also met with members of the research team, including new member and palliative care expert Pedro Huertas, M.D., Ph.D. The meeting went really well and we were told we would receive a written report in the next four weeks or so. This inspection of the safe and meeting with members of the research team was our final requirement in applying for DEA approval for this study. We’re hopeful that we will get approval before the end of the year.
MAPS is already making plans for celebrating our 20th anniversary at Burning Man in 2006. Visionary artist Alex Grey has confirmed that he will camp with us in the MAPS theme camp, where we will have two domes displaying artwork, one of which will be dedicated to displaying artwork from Alex Grey, in addition to a larger dome for lectures, breathwork sessions, dancing and other events. Ann and Sasha Shulgin will be coming to camp with us as well, as they helped provide the core inspiration for the founding of MAPS.
Next year 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 will also continue to work with the Black Rock City Rangers to help staff Sanctuary. We’re inviting/gathering people who helped in the creation of MAPS, psychedelic and medical marijuana researchers, and all MAPS members and friends. Keep reading the email updates for information on participating in our camp!
On October 19, Mother Jones Magazine published an excellent article about medical marijuana and GW Pharmaceuticals marijuana-spray, Sativex. The article mentions the MAPS-supported lawsuit against DEA over the government’s monopoly on the supply of medical marijuana, DEA’s refusal to license Prof. Lyle Craker, Ph.D, to start a MAPS-sponsored marijuana production facility at UMass Amherst, and the need for high-potency vaporizable or smoke-able pot. The article quotes MAPS President Rick Doblin:
But even if NIDA were a reliable supplier, Doblin says, “we don’t want their weed.” NIDA’s brown, stems-and-seeds-laden, low-potency pot–what’s known on the streets as “schwag”–cannot stack up against the dense green, aromatic, and powerful sinsemilla favored by most medical marijuana patients (and grown by GW)…MAPS, like GW, wants to develop cannabis as a pharmaceutical drug, but, as Doblin puts it, “in the least refined, least expensive way possible–as plant material that people can get in pharmacies or as plants or seeds that they can grow and process themselves…We can get the FDA to work with us, but we can’t get pot from NIDA…We’ve been waiting for two years just for a decision on whether they’ll sell us 10 grams for our vaporizer study.”
MAPS is pleased to present our first wall calendar now available in our online bookstore for $15. The months of 2006 are decorated with a collection of unique visual art pieces, from both well-known and undiscovered artists. Each month also contains a list of important dates in psychedelic drug history.
Go here to preview the calendar artwork and dates. Since this year’s calendar is a trial run, we have only printed 200 copies, so get yours today!
MAPS is proud to re-release Albert Hofmann’s classic psychedelic text, LSD: My Problem Child which has been out of print in English for many years. This edition includes a new foreword by LSD psychotherapy pioneer Dr. Stanislav Grof, as well as a new index, a new preface from the author, and 16 pages of photos, many of which are in color. It should be in our online bookstore in 4-6 weeks. We are also having the text, originally written in German, translated to Chinese. The Chinese translation will be posted online, and should be finished in January 2006. We already have obtained a Russian translation. We hope to have both the re-release of the English version and the Chinese translation finished by the time we go to Switzerland in January for the LSD Symposium and Albert Hofmann’s 100th Birthday.
MAPS is also working on publishing another text to be finished hopefully by the end of the year, and available in early 2006, The Ultimate Journey: Consciousness and the Mystery of Death by LSD Psychotherapist Stanislav Grof, M.D. In this text, Dr. Grof examines the problems of death and dying through the lens of his decades-long study of consciousness. Using cross-cultural views on the afterlife, near-death experiences, paranormal research, and case studies in psychedelic therapy, Dr. Grof questions our most basic beliefs about the primacy of matter. Arguing that Western civilization is unique in the assumption that consciousness ends at death, he ultimately suggests that we can, and should, transcend our fear of dying and live more joyful lives in the present. Illustrated with 24 pages of color illustrations, this most recent of Dr. Grof’s works is of special relevance now that the FDA has approved psychedelic research with cancer patients, using either psilocybin or MDMA.
Visionary artist Alex Grey has recently been commissioned to paint the portrait of Albert Hofmann, with the intention of creating an edition of 50 prints, each 16″ x 20″, numbered and signed by both Alex Grey and Albert Hofmann. 50% of the profit from the sales of these prints are going toward funding MAPS-sponsored LSD and Psilocybin research and for promoting Albert’s writings (such as translating LSD-My Problem Child into Chinese). The other 50% is going toward the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, Alex and Allyson Grey’s temple which houses all of the Sacred Mirrors as well as other examples of Alex’s most transformative works of art. Through advance sales, 41 of the 50 have already been sold. Of the remaining 9, 4 are being offered through MAPS for $3000, while the remaining 5 will be for sale in Basel, Switzerland, at the LSD: Problem Child and Wonder Drug Symposium on January 13th-15th, 2006, also for $3000. If you are interested in purchasing one of these prints, please contact the MAPS office via phone at 941 924-6277 to reserve a copy which will be ready to be shipped in the middle of January.
We have sold all 50 of the original Hofmann-signed light painting prints by artist Dean Chamberlain, and are pleased to announce that we are now offering 25 larger versions of this same print (22 x 28 on 30 x 36 heavyweight fine-art archival paper), also signed by Albert Hofmann. We still have 20 left. This edition of prints was created to help fund MAPS-sponsored LSD and psilocybin research, as well as to commemorate Albert’s 100th birthday next year. Prints numbered 1-5 were offered at $4000 each; 6-15 are still available for $5000; 16-20 will be $6000, and 21-25 will be $7000. Also by Dean Chamberlain, we have available signed portraits of Laura Huxley, profits from which will go to research the use of psychedelics to ease the dying process.
Thank you to everyone who has donated to MAPS this month, and an extra special thanks for the following notable donations:
$7000 from Robert Barnhart for operational expenses
$5000 from Tim Butcher for ibogaine research.
If anyone has suggestions for potential donors, please contact the MAPS office and we will discuss how best to reach out to them.
That concludes this email update. Thanks for reading!