Dear MAPS Members, Supporters, & Friends,
Hello from David Jay Brown. Im going to be a guest editor at MAPS starting with this monthly email update, now that Jag Davies is on a well-deserved vacation before starting work at the ACLUs Drug Law Reform Project. Im a science and health writer, with a background in psychobiology. Ive authored seven books about the evolution of consciousness–including the well-known, four-volume Mavericks of the Mind interview collection series with leading-edge thinkers.
My work has been highly influenced by an interest in psychedelics and Ive been a longtime MAPS supporter. Most recently, I wrote a feature article for the December/January issue of Scientific American Mind magazine about the new research into psychedelics, and how these fascinating substances may be used in the near future to help heal a variety of difficult-to-treat psychiatric disorders. Much of the research that I summarized in this article was, of course, supported by MAPS.
As we celebrate the holidays this winter season, and 2007 draws to a close, MAPS has just achieved a historic milestone–approval for the first LSD psychotherapy study in 35 years! (See story below.) Please take a moment to meditate on the magic that comes from giving generously during this special time. By contributing an end-of-the-year, tax-deductible donation to MAPS this holiday season youll be doing your part to help further valuable research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics and marijuana. Due to the generosity of an anonymous MAPS donor, your year-end gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar, so now your much-appreciated generosity can go twice as far! Please also visit the MAPS Webstore, where you can find awe-inspiring art, thought-provoking books, and other mind-expanding gifts to fill all of your holiday needs.
MAPS is bristling with exciting news this month. Heres a sample of whats going on here this December:
- Winter 2007 Bulletin is In the Mail
- Final Approval for MAPS-Sponsored Swiss LSD/End-of-Life Anxiety Study
- $50,000 donation for MAPS-Sponsored Swiss MDMA/PTSD and LSD/Cancer Anxiety Studies
- Washington Post Sunday Magazine Cover Story on MDMA/PTSD Stud/NPR Story
- Journal of Psychopharmacology editorial by Sessa and Nutt Supports MDMA Research
- New Israeli Co-Therapist Team Came to Train with the Mithoefers for MDMA/PTSD Study
- Israeli Medical Marijuana Production Facility Moves Forward
- Federal Judge mentions MAPS Amicus Curiae Brief in Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative Case
- MAPS Submits Comment to DEA about Rescheduling Generic Marinol with THC from Natural Extraction
- DEA Allows Hemp to be Grown for Research at North Dakota State University
- Psychedelic Medicine Now Available in MAPS Webstore
- New Paper Published on Holotropic Breathwork
- Scientific American Mind Magazine Feature Article on Research With Psychedelics
- The World Psychedelic Forum–March 21 to March 24
*** MAPS needs your generosity to empower staff, scientists, and volunteers to carry out pioneering research and educational projects. To donate, learn about the benefits of MAPS membership, or purchase merchandise, visit here: store.maps.org/ ***
The Winter 2007 Bulletin is on its way to MAPS members.
On December 5, Dr. Peter Gasser received the final permission for his MAPS-sponsored LSD/end-of-life anxiety study! He had previously received approval from Swissmedic (Swiss FDA) and a Swiss Ethics Committee (see this letter). This approval marks the completion of the initial phase of the psychedelic research renaissance, which has been building slowly since 1990.
Vanja Palmers–who has been involved with MAPS from its beginning–made a $50,000 donation to the SAEPT (Swiss Medical Association for Psycholytic Therapy) for two MAPS-sponsored studies in Switzerland. These funds will be allocated towards Peter Oehens study to investigate MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, and Peter Gassers study of LSD-assisted psychotherapy in subjects suffering from anxiety associated with advanced-stage cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
Because Vanja is a Swiss citizen, he will receive a tax-deduction for this generous donation, as it is going directly to a Swiss non-profit organization, the SAEPT. MAPS has relationships with nonprofit organizations in the different countries that were working in, so that our international donors can get their tax deductions from their own countries.
Thank you so much Vanja!
The MAPS-sponsored US MDMA /PTSD study, conducted by Dr. Michael and Annie Mithoefer, is in the news. The November 25th issue of the Washington Post Sunday Magazine featured a cover story by Tom Shroder entitled The Peace Drug. The article includes interviews with several subjects and presents the research in a positive light. Shroders article, was also summarized in two Spanish newspapers, ABC and El Mundo.
On Monday, November 26, Dr. Mithoefer and Tom Shroder were interviewed on National Public Radios Tell Me More with Michelle Martin. The broadcast is about ten minutes long. The story is archived at: https://maps.org/podcasts/mmithoefer_on_NPR.mp3
CNNs Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanja Gupta, will be interviewing Dr. Mithoefer at a time still to be determined.
5. Journal of Psychopharmacology Editorial by Sessa and Nutt Supports MDMA Therapy Research
In November, Ben Sessa and David J. Nutt published an editorial MDMA, politics and medical research: Have we thrown the baby out with the bath water? in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. They speak out against the deleterious effects of political interference and strict regulation upon progress in medical research with MDMA. The authors, one of them the editor of this journal, describe the history of MDMA, including its scheduling, and offer three avenues of research into the therapeutic potential of MDMA. The argument in favor of MDMA research is strong, even though the examples offered are somewhat flawed. It is encouraging to see a major journal acknowledge the costs of making research into the effects of MDMA so difficult. (Ben Sessa and David J. Nutt MDMA, politics and medical research: Have we thrown the baby out with the bath water? Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2007, 21, 8: 787-791.) Read more at www.maps.org/media
MAPS Research Specialist, Ilsa Jerome, Ph.D,, has written a commentary about the editorial.
Ben Sessa’s ‘Psychedelic Love In’ show can now be heard monthly as a live stream at: www.10radio.org. The first show will be broadcast at 10:00 pm on Thursday, January 21st.
Two Israeli co-therapists in MAPS Israeli MDMA/PTSD study, Sergio Marchevsky, M.D. and Marina Kupcheck M.D., were in Charleston, South Carolina from Friday, December 7 to Sunday, December 9, to monitor an MDMA PTSD session conducted by Michael Mithoefer M.D. and Annie Mithoefer, R.N.. Observing an MDMA/PTSD session is part of their training prior to enrolling the first subjects in the Israeli MDMA PTSD study.
MAPS is developing a therapist training protocol that we intend to submit to the FDA in December. Were seeking permission from the FDA for the Mithoefers to offer supervised MDMA experiences to therapists who are interested in possibly conducting future MDMA/PTSD studies once MAPS starts our Phase 3 multi-site studies. While bringing researchers to Charleston to observe an MDMA/PTSD session is helpful, we believe it will be even more educational to provide supervised opportunities for therapists to receive MDMA in a therapeutic context and also to practice sitting for someone else who is taking MDMA in a therapeutic context, all while being observed and educated by Michael and Annie Mithoefer.
The Israeli Ministry of Health has just inspected the legal medical marijuana production facility that it has permitted to grow marijuana for free distribution to MoH-approved patients. The MoH officials were impressed with what they saw and have given permission to expand the facility. The next major milestone will occur if the Ministry gives the nonprofit organization that runs the facility permission to sell marijuana to patients. Currently the marijuana can only be given away.
MAPS has been providing technical assistance and infrastructure funding, and will have a seat on the Board of Directors of the nonprofit organization that runs the facility. MAPS has received restricted funds from a donor for the Israeli medical marijuana project. The facility, directed by Israeli medical marijuana advocate Tsachi Cohen has been authorized by the Israeli Ministry of Health to provide marijuana to over 150 patients formally approved by the Ministry. The MoH is also considering distributing the marijuana in government-approved hospitals, and possibly private pharmacies.
This production facility and associated distribution system could become an international model. MAPS is gaining valuable experience in preparation for when Lyle Craker, Ph.D. finally receives his permit to create a MAPS-sponsored medical marijuana production facility in the U.S.
The amicus curiae brief filed by MAPS and the Marijuana Policy Project had a beneficial impact on December 4th at the oral argument before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative. Judge Myron Bright–senior judge from the Eight Circuit, sitting in the Ninth Circuit by designation–expressly referred to the amicus brief, stating that it reflects stonewalling and obstructionism by the federal government with regard to medical cannabis.
Judge Bright then suggested, in a question to the governments attorney, that the governments conduct described in the brief justified remanding the case to the district court to consider that issue. Pursuing the theme, and amplifying upon it, counsel for the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative later explained that the district court failed in its obligation to balance the equities in the case, among those being the stonewalling by the federal government.
The litigation began in January 1998 when the government filed a civil complaint seeking an injunction against the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative to prohibit it from providing medical cannabis to patients. The Supreme Court in 2001 decided a single issue raised by the case regarding applicability of the medical necessity doctrine, but the Supreme Court remanded the case back to the lower courts for consideration of the various other legal matters remaining in the case. District Court Judge Charles Breyer subsequently entered a permanent injunction without weighing the equitable considerations in the case (such as the governments unclean hands as a court is required to do before granting injunctive relief).
Link to OCBCs opening brief: www.rxcbc.org:legal:Legal:9th_Circuit_Appeals:2007-04-13_Appellants_Opening_Brief.pdf
Link to OCBCs reply brief: www.rxcbc.org/legal/Legal/9th_Circuit_Appeals/2007-09-25_Appellants_Reply_Brief.pdf
Links to all pleadings in the case may be found at: http://www.rxcbc.org/legal/index.html
The DEA placed a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comment about a DEA proposal to put generic Marinol made from extracting THC from the marijuana plant into Schedule 3, where Marinol with synthetic THC is scheduled. Marinol is going to lose its patent protection Feb. 26, 2011 and the pharmaceutical company, Mallincrodkt, is seeking to manufacture generic Marinol from natural extraction of THC, which is less expensive than synthetic THC.
Professor ElSohly, currently the only DEA-licensed manufacturer of marijuana, stands to profit greatly from this change in policy since DEA has given him a license to grow the marijuana plant and extract the THC for sale to Mallincrodkt.
MAPS submitted a public comment to the Federal Register about the proposed new rule, which MAPS supported. The focus of the comment is the issue of fairness; namely, it is blatantly unfair that DEA would permit Prof. Elsohly to grow marijuana for private gain while refusing to license Prof. Craker to grow marijuana for federally approved research, in a facility that secured funding through a grant from MAPS to the University of MA–Amherst. Weve taken advantage of the public comment process to call attention to the fact that DEA by licensing Prof. Elsohly, has completely undermined one of its primary arguments against licensing Prof Craker since it claimed that U.S. international treaty obligations prevented it from licensing any private producer of marijuana.
The DEA is permitting hemp to be grown for research at North Dakota State University. This permission was granted by the DEA after sitting on the application for eight years. The DEA rejected an application for a larger commercial production project in North Dakota, and a federal court just ruled against the farmers who sued the DEA. The approval of the license for NDSU demonstrates that the DEA does sometimes feel forced to move off of inaction and delay to giving licenses that it prefers not to give. We hope this is a precedent that will be repeated in Prof. Crakers case against the DEA, seeking a license for a privately-funded medical marijuana production facility in the U.S.–a case which we won in court but has yet to be implemented by the DEA. See this press release for more details.
The long-awaited edition of Psychedelic Medicine: New Evidence for Hallucinogenic Substances as Treatments is now available in the MAPS Webstore— just in time for the holidays! Recently published by Praeger Publishers at a price of $200, this beautifully produced, two-volume set–which was edited by Michael J. Winkelman and Thomas B. Roberts–includes contributions from Charles Grob, Michael Mithoefer, and other experts on how psychedelics may be used to help treat numerous medical disorders. The spiritual use of psychedelics is also discussed, as are the legal issues for therapeutic use. The psychedelics that are explored for potential health use in this valuable book include LSD, ayahuasca, psilocybin, peyote, MDMA, and marijuana. As a book distributor, MAPS is able to obtain titles such as this at wholesale and sell them at retail, with profits going to support our operational expenses. When you buy your books through MAPS (rather than through other online retail outlets), you help fund our mission.
Joseph P. Rhinewine and Oliver J. Williams recently published an excellent paper on holotropic breathwork– in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine titled Holotropic Breathwork: The Potential Role of a Prolonged, Voluntary Hyperventilation Procedure as an Adjunct to Psychotherapy.The paper makes a strong case for holotropic breathwork research.
(Joseph P. Rhinewine, Oliver J. Williams. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2007, 13(7): 771-776. doi:10.1089/acm.2006.6203.)
The December/January issue of Scientific American Mind magazine features my article Psychedelic Healing?, (PDF format) which summarizes much of the research into psychedelics that has gone on in recent years. In the article I discuss how MDMA, psilocybin, LSD, ibogaine and other psychedelics are being studied as treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, cluster headaches, anxiety associated with cancer, drug addiction, and other difficult-to-treat psychiatric disorders. I also discuss the neurochemistry of how psychedelics affect the brain.
The World Psychedelic Forum will be held this spring in Switzerland, at the Congress Center in Basel, from March 21 to 24. The theme this year is Consciousness Change: A Challenge of the 21st Century. Along with Gaia Media, MAPS is helping to cosponsor the event by donating $5000, and well be bringing Stan Grof M.D., Michael Mithoefer, M.D., Annie Mithoefer, R.N. Sameet Kumar, Ph.D., Valerie Mojeiko, B.A, and Rick Doblin, Ph.D. as speakers. Other speakers include Albert Hofmann, Ph.D., Alex Grey, Kathleen Harrison, Dennis McKenna, Ph.D., Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., Jeremy Narby, Ph.D., Daniel Pinchbeck, and Christian Rtsch, Ph.D. To find out more about the conference see: www.psychedelic.info
Now that LSD psychotherapy research has been approved for the first time in more than 35 years, MDMA/PTSD research has been favorably covered by the Washington Post and NPR, and the federal obstruction of medical marijuana research is becoming increasingly evident, MAPS is facing a time of incredible opportunity. Please keep MAPS in mind as you consider your year-end giving and don’t forget to check out the MAPS Webstore for your holiday shopping needs.
Wishing you all a joyous celebration of the “Holy Daze.” May 2008 bring you many unexpected delights.
David Jay Brown, M.A.,
MAPS Guest Editor