Whether you measure our progress in studies approved, data collected, papers published, headlines announced, or subjects treated, one thing is clear—psychedelic science and medicine are making major strides. That’s why I’m excited to share with you the April 2015 edition of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) Email Newsletter.
Principal Investigator Dr. Philip Wolfson prepares the MDMA for MAPS’ study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety associated with life-threatening illness in Marin, Calif.
We have a lot of encouraging news this month, including the publication of a paper about our ongoing Los Angeles study of MDMA-assisted therapy for social anxiety in autistic adults, and the formal initiation of our Marin, Calif., study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety associated with life-threatening illness. Meanwhile, our international Phase 2 studies of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are on track, with subjects receiving their first experimental treatments in British Columbia, Colorado, and South Carolina.
SPECIAL: On Sunday, April 19, at 9:00pm ET/6:00pm PT, watch the premiere of WEED 3: The Marijuana Revolution on CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta for an insider’s look at the politics of medical marijuana research, with a special focus on MAPS and Dr. Sue Sisley’s work to study medical marijuana for U.S. veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We’re encouraging all our supporters to host viewing parties to spread awareness and raise funds for MAPS’ work to end the federal barriers obstructing medical marijuana drug development research. (WEED 3 will be followed by “High Profits: Cannabis Meets Capitalism” at 10:00pm ET.)
Also in this edition:
- Get ready to bid on your favorite psychedelic artifacts—the MAPS Online Benefit Auction starts on April 16.
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) provides information about the cost and availability of marijuana for our planned study in U.S. veterans with PTSD
- The Zendo Project provides psychedelic harm reduction services to over 80 guests at Envision Festival in Costa Rica
- Our work is featured on NBC, The Huffington Post, Nature, Military Times, and more major news sources.
This month, we celebrate the 29th anniversary of MAPS. We have come a long way since our founding on April 8, 1986—there is more momentum for psychedelic and medical marijuana research than ever before. Thank you for your support!
MAPS Director of Communications and Marketing
P.S. SAVE THE DATE for Psychedelic Science 2017 from April 19-24, 2017 in Oakland, Calif.!
- Article Published in Peer-Reviewed Scientific Journal
- Social Anxiety in Autistic Adults: 7th Subject Enrolled
- Marin: Study Initiated; Subject Screening Begins
- U.S. Veterans: 22nd Subject T
reated; Study Nears Completion
- Canada: Fourth Subject Enrolled and Treated in Vancouver Study
- Boulder: 18th Subject Treated
- NIDA Provides Marijuana Cost and Availability Information
- MAPS Seeks Research Location in Scottsdale for Marijuana Study
- Zendo Project Assists Over 80 Guests at Envision Festival in Costa Rica
- Mother Launches Campaign to Amend the RAVE Act
- March Giving Report: Marching Forward
- NBC News, Nature, Huffington Post, Engadget, and more…
- MAPS Online Benefit Auction Showcases Rare Art and Artifacts Starting April 16
- Psychedelic Experience: New Uses and Research: April 17, 2015, Palo Alto, CA
- LIVESTREAM: Psymposia: Envisioning a Post-Prohibition World: April 17-19, 2015, Amherst, MA
- Generation PsYchedelic at Evergreen State College: April 17-19, 2015, Olympia, WA
- American Psychiatric Association 168th Annual Meeting: May 18, 2015, Toronto, Canada
- Psychology of the Future Online Summit: Content Available June 1, 2015
- 9th Annual Women’s Visionary Congress: Rising from the Underground: June 19-21, 2015, Petaluma, CA
- SAVE THE DATE: Psychedelic Science 2017: April 19-24, 2017, Oakland, CA
MDMA-Assisted Therapy for Social Anxiety in Autistic Adults
MDMA-Assisted Therapy for Anxiety Associated with Life-Threatening Illness
Treating PTSD with MDMA-Assisted Therapy
Medical Marijuana Research
Psychedelic Harm Reduction
MDMA-ASSISTED THERAPY FOR SOCIAL ANXIETY IN AUTISTIC ADULTS
Learn more at mdma-autism.org.
On March 25, 2015, a paper presenting the rationale for our ongoing study of MDMA-assisted therapy for the treatment of social anxiety in autistic adults was published in the peer-reviewed journal Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. MAPS has paid to make available for free download. Highlights of the paper include: (1) The need to develop effective treatments for social anxiety in autistic adults is presently unmet; (2) MDMA-assisted therapy could reduce social anxiety symptoms and increase social adaptability in autistic adults; (3) MDMA does not require ongoing administration to achieve lasting benefits; and (4) Pure MDMA used in approved clinical settings is safer than the recreational use of “Ecstasy” or “molly.” The paper proposes that “clinicians could employ new treatment models for social anxiety or similar types of distress administering MDMA on one to several occasions within the context of a supportive and integrative psychotherapy protocol.” The authors of the paper are Alicia L. Danforth, Ph.D. (Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute), Christopher M. Struble, M.D. (Harbor-UCLA Medical Center), Berra Yazar-Klosinski, Ph.D. (MAPS), and Charles S. Grob, M.D. (Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute). View abstract | Download full text…
On March 31, 2015, the seventh subject was enrolled in our ongoing study of MDMA-assisted therapy for social anxiety in 12 adults on the autism spectrum. This study is exploring whether MDMA combined with therapy can enhance functional skills and quality of life in autistic adults with social anxiety. Sponsored by MAPS, this is a collaborative study with the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and researchers at Stanford University. In addition to collecting data on the safety and effectiveness of MDMA-assisted therapy for reducing social anxiety in these subjects, researchers at Stanford University will also analyze blood concentrations of several hormones (oxytocin, AVP, and cortisol) hypothesized to be involved in the therapeutic effectiveness of MDMA when combined with therapy. MDMA-autism.org | Learn more…
$336,000 estimated study cost • $1,000 raised + $15,000 raised by partners • $320,000 still needed
MDMA-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY FOR ANXIETY ASSOCIATED WITH LIFE-THREATENING ILLNESS
On April 9-10, 2015, the formal study initiation visits took place for our new study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety associated with life-threatening illness. MAPS and site staff reviewed the study protocol and prepared documents for the upcoming study. Located in Marin, Calif., and led by Principal Investigator Phil Wolfson, M.D., this study will gather preliminary data about the safety and efficacy of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety in 18 subjects diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. In order to explore alternative methods of delivering MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and to reduce treatment costs, this study is also utilizing student therapists receiving credit as one member of the co-therapist team. “Stigma is no longer standing in the way of regulatory approval for research into the therapeutic uses of MDMA and other psychedelics,” said Brad Burge of MAPS in a March 18 article in The Huffington Post. “Now, the main challenge has become finding the funding necessary to complete the research. As these studies move forward, we’ll start seeing support for psychedelic research as an opportunity, rather than a risk.” Learn more…
$593,000 estimated study cost • $176,000 raised • $417,000 still needed
TREATING PTSD WITH MDMA-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY
On March 13, 2015, the 22nd subject received their first experimental treatment in our ongoing study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for 24 U.S. veterans, firefighters, and police officers with treatment-resistant PTSD. This subject was enrolled on February 10, and the 23rd subject was enrolled on March 2. The potential final subject is now being screened. Principal Investigator Michael Mithoefer, M.D., will be discussing preliminary results and ongoing research into MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD at the upcoming American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, from May 16-20, 2015. MAPS will also host an educational booth in the exhibit hall. Learn more…
$1,428,000 estimated study cost • $1,383,000 raised • $45,000 still needed
Learn about our Funding Priorities.
On March 24, 2015, the fourth subject was treated in our ongoing Canadian study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD. This subject was enrolled on March 6, and treated by co-therapists Donna Dryer, M.D., and Richard Yensen, Ph.D. Led by Principal Investigator Ingrid Pacey, M.D., in Vancouver, B.C., this Phase 2 study will treat up to 12 subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD from sexual assault, violent crime, military service, or any other cause. This is the first Health Canada-approved clinical psychedelic research to take place in over 40 years. “As we prepare for the next set of four experimental psychotherapy sessions, we are honored and humbled to be working with such courageous subjects,” writes co-therapist Dr. Dryer. MAPS Canada | Learn more…
$470,000 estimated study cost • $46,000 + $17,000 raised by partners • $407,000 still needed
On March 22, 2015, the 18th subject was treated in our ongoing study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD in 23 subjects with PTSD from sexual assault, violent crime, war, natural disasters, or any other cause, taking place in Boulder, Colorado. The 19th and 20th subjects were enrolled on March 2 and April 6. On March 25, a study participant participated in a public “Ask Me Anything” session on reddit, answering over 120 questions about her experience. “It wasn’t only the MDMA, I can’t stress that enough,” she explains. “My therapists were incredible. They’re knowledgeable, thoughtful, insightful people who helped me save my life.” Learn more…
$763,000 estimated study cost • $313,000 raised • $450,000 still needed
MEDICAL MARIJUANA RESEARCH
Learn about our work to make psychedelics and medical marijuana into prescription medicines at the redesigned maps.org.
On March 31, 2015, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) provided MAPS with information about the cost and availab
ility of marijuana for our planned study of smoked marijuana for symptoms of PTSD in 76 U.S. veterans. It took over a year for NIDA to provide this information after MAPS received our first approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to purchase marijuana from NIDA in March 2014. Currently, NIDA has three of the four varieties of marijuana we requested; we have asked whether they will also be able to provide an additional variety with a balanced THC/CBD ratio and higher concentrations of THC and CBD than NIDA currently lists as available. On March 11, the Institutional Review Board at the University of Pennsylvania, where Coordinating Principal Investigator (PI) Marcel Bonn-Miller, Ph.D., is located, approved the study protocol. On March 17, an Independent Review Board approved the study for the Arizona site lead by Co-Investigator/Site PI Sue Sisley, M.D. Dr. Sisley will apply for her Schedule I license from the Drug Enforcement Administration once we find a suitable Arizona location. On March 26, the Institutional Review Board at Johns Hopkins University, for the site lead by Co-Investigator/Site PI, Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D., deferred approval for the study, pending revisions to a study measure. The revisions were submitted for review on April 9. Once all approvals are received and the study initiation visits are conducted, the study will be cleared to proceed. Learn more…
MAPS is looking for a commercially zoned property in Scottsdale, Ariz., to house a clinical trial site for our planned, FDA-approved outpatient study of marijuana in 38 veterans with PTSD that will take place over the next two years. This will require study subjects (U.S. veterans) making weekly visits to the location. Requirements include at least three separate rooms (one of which can be ventilated and one that can house a safe with an alarm system), ADA-compliant bathrooms, and easy parking for up to five vehicles. It is not necessary for all requirements to be pre-available, but they do need to be possible. This study will be conducted according to the highest standards under the applicable Code of Federal Regulations that apply to human clinical trials with Schedule I controlled substances. If you own or know of a possible space, please contact email@example.com.
Learn about including MAPS in your will or trust.
PSYCHEDELIC HARM REDUCTION
At this year’s Envision Festival in Uvita, Costa Rica, 30 Zendo Project volunteers provided support to 83 individuals having a difficult psychedelic experience, as well as outreach and education to dozens more. At the event, Sara Gael, M.A., and Shannon Clare, M.A., led a public training to teach the principles of psychedelic harm reduction. Throughout the five-day event, volunteers worked closely with medical and security staff to reduce the number of psychiatric related hospitalizations and arrests. We are proud to be collaborating with Envision Festival, a key player in the field of psychedelic harm reduction movement that serves as a model for the continued integration of harm reduction and psychological support services at festivals worldwide. For more information, please review our updated Psychedelic Harm Reduction Training Manual. Learn more…
Dede Goldsmith, mother of Shelley Goldsmith, a 19-year-old University of Virginia honors student who died of heat stroke last summer at an event in Washington, D.C., after taking MDMA, has launched a campaign to Amend the RAVE Act, an outdated law that discourages event venues from providing harm reduction services at events. The petition has already collected over 6,900 signatures. “I don’t believe it was ever the intention of the RAVE Act to discourage common sense public safety measures at these concerts,” says Dede Goldsmith. “But in today’s music scene, that is exactly what is happening…By amending the RAVE Act, we will protect millions of young people and prevent the kind of tragedy that happened to me and my family.” With support from MAPS and the Drug Policy Alliance, Mrs. Goldsmith plans to take the petition along with a proposed amendment to Congress this fall. Please sign the petition to ensure that public safety measures to reduce drug-related harm are not deterred by federal law. Sign the petition…
“Saint Albert and the LSD Revelation Revolution” by Alex Grey, signed by Alex Grey and Albert Hofmann. Available in the MAPS Online Benefit Auction starting April 16.
Our work proceeds fastest when all the parts are in place: research scientists, therapists, administrative and fundraising staff, patents, and donors. In March 2015, 249 people and organizations gave a total of $142,935 to support MAPS’ work. Our biggest shout-out this month goes to the hundreds of people who voted for MAPS to receive an $82,765 donation from the community news website reddit. We are also very grateful to John Gilmore and Annie Oak for their $30,000 contribution made through their Donor Advised Fund at the San Francisco Community Foundation, and to the Michael & Anita Siegal Family Foundation for their $4,000 grant to support our clinical study in Israel. Hilary Silver generously continued his annual giving at $5,000, and Jared Luxenberg increased his gift to $3,000 this year, to be matched by his employer Google. Ben Warner, from South Hampton, UK, gave $2,000 (see his note below). $1,000 gifts came from musician Ben Lee, the author of the album “Ayahuasca: Welcome to the Work”; from Dan Mottsman, a volunteer speaker with our Combined Federal Campaign; and from Eileen Rockefeller Growald, who made the gift in memory of her brother Dr. Richard Rockefeller. Thank you to Patricia Phillips who gives $700 to honor her late husband each quarter, and to Max and Elena Talan who give $450 each month in general support. We also thank the Unilever Foundation Employee Engagement Fund for a gift of $500, and Neil and Elena Boyer for their $530 gift, one of their four gifts this calendar year. Our gratitude also goes to the 214 donors who gave between $5 and $300 to support MAPS’ work this month. Also, thank you to the 12 donors who gave to our fiscally sponsored projects: Weed the People, Bluelight, the Ethnobotanical Stewardship Council, and the Global Ibogaine Therapist Alliance. We are all creating the future together. Why give?
We have a long way to go, but I believe the good work of MAPS will extend far beyond simply adding a few new treatments to the medical practitioner’s toolbox—we have the opportunity to fundamentally change the dynamic of modern medicine.
—Ben Warner, MAPS donor
FEATURED NBC News Bay Area: Santa Cruz’s MAPS Studying Effects of MDMA on End-of-Life Care | view
Tamara Palmer | March 20, 2015
FEATURED Fest 300: I Did “Psychedelic First Aid” at a Festival in Costa Rica | view
Eamon Armstrong | March 26, 2015
FEATURED reddit: I Participated in the MAPS MDMA/PTSD Study and It Saved My Life. Ask Me Anything! | view
March 25, 2015
Huffington Post: DEA Approves Study of MDMA in Treatment of Seriously Ill Patients | view
Nick Wing | March 18, 2015
Al Jazeera America: DEA Approves Study Using MDMA for Anxiety in Seriously Ill Patients | view
Renee Lewis | March 17, 2015
Engadget: Popular Club Drug Assists Therapy for the Terminally Ill | view
Mona Lalwani | March 20, 2015
Nature: Marijuana Gears Up for Production High in US Labs | view
Sara Reardon | March 17, 2015
Military Times: Marijuana Treatment Study on PTSD for Veterans Gets Back on Track | view
Bryant Jordan | April 2, 2015
AZ Family: Veterans Show Support for UA Professor Fired Before Marijuana/PTSD Study Began | view
Jared Dillingham | April 9, 2015
Arizona Public Media: Former UA Marijuana Researcher Restarting in Phoenix | view
Arizona Public Media Staff | March 27, 2015
Westword: Sue Sisley Named Researcher of the Year by National Medical Marijuana Group | view
Patricia Calhoun | March 30, 2015
NBC News: Crowdfunding Gives New Life to LSD, MDMA Research | view
Keith Wagstaff | March 30, 2015
The Duncan Trussell Family Hour Podcast: Rick Doblin from MAPS | view
Duncan Trussell | April 2, 2015
Explore MAPS in the Media for more psychedelic and medical marijuana research news.
The MAPS Benefit Auction showcases a rare collection of art and artifacts from psychedelic luminaries such as LSD discoverer Albert Hofmann, psychedelic chemist Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, and visionary artist Alex Grey, as well as more items donated by our supporters. This is your chance to bring home an exciting piece of psychedelic research history while supporting MAPS’ work. The online MAPS Benefit Auction starts April 16 at 6:00 pm (PDT) on eBay and ends 10 days later, on April 26 at 6:00pm (PDT). If you have questions about the auction or would like to donate a piece, please contact Brian Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Signed glassware from Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin’s laboratory is available exclusively from MAPS. Only a handful of pieces remain in the collection. The MAPS Online Benefit Auction starts April 16.|
Join us for an evening of conversation and community at the MAPS Silicon Valley Satellite Office at Sofia University in Palo Alto, CA. Featuring presentations on “Microdosing, Cluster Headaches, and Beyond” by James Fadiman, Ph.D. (Sofia University); “Have You Been ‘Called’ to Work with Psychedelics?” by David Lukoff, Ph.D. (Sofia University); and “New Therapies and Business Models” by Virginia Wright, M.B.A. (MAPS), along with brief remarks by MAPS Executive Director Rick Doblin, Ph.D. Also includes a screening of “MDMA Therapy and Healing,” a nine-minute film from DanceSafe Founder Emanuel Sferios. This short film is a prelude to the upcoming full-length documentary MDMA: The Movie. Register…
Psymposia: Envisioning a Post-Prohibition World is an upcoming conference about current and future beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana. Watch the 3-day event live online for $20 or visit Amherst, MA from April 17-19, 2015 to attend. A portion of every livestream ticket sale supports MAPS. Get your virtual ticket…
Looking for more ways to get involved? Check out our Student Resources page!
Generation PsYchedelic is a student-organized three-day conference celebrating the younger generation of the psychedelic movement and creating a platform for their voices. Generation PsYchedelic is produced by the Greener’s Association for Psychedelic Studies (GAPS) at Evergreen State College. Featuring talks from MAPS speakers including Rick Doblin, Allison Wilens, Brad Burge, and Shannon Petitt. Register…
MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD researcher Michael Mithoefer, M.D., and MDMA-assisted therapy for social anxiety in autistic adults researcher Charles Grob, M.D., will present at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting in Toronto, taking place from May 16-20, 2015. On Monday, May 18, Dr. Mithoefer will present results and discuss the implications of MAPS’ ongoing Phase 2 MDMA-assisted psychotherapy PTSD research program, and Dr. Grob will discuss preliminary results from his study. Learn more…
Do you want to know what the leading thinkers, personal growth professionals, and spiritual leaders of the world are building? The Psychology of the Future online summit features 10+ hours of incredible video interviews that will share what these visionaries believe about the future. With presentations and dialogues by leaders in the fields of personal growth, mindfulness meditation, self-transformation, science, technology, and the future of psychology. Featuring Virginia Wright of MAPS as keynote speaker. Register…
The Women’s Visionary Council will hold its 9th annual Women’s Visionary Congress from June 19- 21, 2015 at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) Earthrise Retreat Center in Petaluma, CA. The gathering will include presentations from visionary researchers, healers, activists, and artists from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The Women’s Congress welcomes students and is open to people of all genders.Register…
Mark your calendars—it’s official! The Psychedelic Science conference is coming back to the San Francisco Bay Area. The conference will return to the Oakland Marriott City Center in California from April 19-24, 2017. The conference will feature the latest findings in the psychedelic research community and is expected to sell out early. We are incredibly excited to start coordinating this monumental event. We will announce ticket sales, as well as opportunities to participate, closer to the date. For past conference information, speaker videos, and more from Psychedelic Science 2013, visit psychedelicscience.org.
From March 1-9, 2015, MAPS and Dr. Stanislav Grof hosted a series of lectures, seminars, and workshops in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Tzfat, Israel, focusing on transpersonal psychology, psychedelic research, and Holotropic Breathwork. The educational series brought together students, researchers, and Breathwork practitioners from around the world to learn about and raise awareness for these transformational fields. Over 500 attendees heard Dr. Grof speak about healing trauma, a particularly important subject in a country at war. Our Breathwork workshop at
Tel Aviv University reached capacity at 200; this strong reception has inspired Grof Transpersonal Training (holotropic.com) to begin planning a Breathwork facilitator training in Israel (details to be announced). MAPS-sponsored MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD therapists also presented, with attendees incredibly excited and eager to help recruit for our ongoing studies. Israel’s leading progressive party, Meretz, invited Rick and marijuana resarcher Dr. Sue Sisley to speak at their press conference announcing their support of cannabis reform. Our team also met with leading Israeli cannabis doctors and researchers, including Raphael Mechoulam, Ph.D., who first discovered THC.