Current News in Psychedelic and Medical Marijuana Research
Greetings, MAPS members and friends!
We're proud to be able to include a historic and exciting report in this month's email newsletter.
1. MAPS' MDMA/PTSD study fully approved!!
And in other news:
2. MAPS donates $11,000 to Harvard Medical School-affiliated McLean Hospital for design of pilot study investigating MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with anxiety from end-stage cancer.
3. MAPS obtains documents about Dr. Ricaurte's MDMA research through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the National Institute on Drug Abuse
4. More media coverage about Dr. Ricaurte's retracted MDMA neurotoxicity study
5. Peter Jennings' ABC TV documentary on Ecstasy tentatively to air March 30
6. MAPS Board of Directors meets to discuss vision and strategy
7. DEA requests letters from doctors regarding UMass Amherst medical pot farm
8 John Gilmore donates $100,000 for start-up fund, initially for UMass Amherst project
9 Assistant Surgeon General evaluating marijuana vaporizer project for "scientific merit"
10 MAPS staffer Valerie Mojeiko developing outcome study for ibogaine treatment clinics
11. Humphry Osmond, LSD research pioneer and creator of the word 'psychedelic', passes away
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Projects and Communications Director
1. MAPS' MDMA/PTSD study fully approved!!!
We have fantastic news to report. On February 24, 2004, DEA issued Dr. Michael Mithoefer's Schedule I license for his historic, MAPS-sponsored MDMA/PTSD study. He now has every permit necessary to start the first study of MDMA psychotherapy ever approved in the US! MAPS has been working toward this goal for 18 years, since its founding in 1986. We owe this success to the continuing support of MAPS members and supporters -- thank you! We have already taken the first steps to start the study. The first media coverage of the approval of the study was on CNN's evening news February 25, with a somewhat longer version of that story broadcast in the morning of February 26 and archived on the CNN website. Check this out while it's still online at: http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/.
We are now focusing in earnest on fundraising and need to raise an additional $200,000 to complete to complete the study. If ever there was a time to make a special donation to MAPS, now is that time.
2. MAPS donates $11,000 to Harvard's McLean Hospital for design of pilot study investigating MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with anxiety from end-stage cancer.
On February 23, MAPS donated $11,000 to McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, for Dr. John Halpern's continued work on the protocol design and approval process for a study to investigate MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of anxiety in terminal cancer patients. This study builds on past research with LSD psychotherapy in terminal cancer patients. If approved, this study would also symbolically represent a powerful cultural shift, returning psychedelic research to Harvard post-Timothy Leary for the first time since 1965!
3. MAPS obtains documents about Dr. Ricaurte's MDMA research through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request
On January 26, 2004, NIDA sent MAPS several documents in response to our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about Dr. George Ricaurte's retracted MDMA neurotoxicity study. (For more on this study, see http://www.maps.org/mdma/studyresponse.html). These documents indicate that in non-humans primates, Dr. Ricaurte showed that doses of genuine MDMA of up to 8.6 mg/kg, administered orally three times within six hours (total 25.8 mg/kg!) and doses of up to 4 mg/kg administered by injection three times within six hours (total 12 mg/kg!) do not cause any reductions in dopamine. The documents also indicate that Dr. Ricaurte was defending his initial study in public (for example in a June 2003 letter to Science), well after he knew that he had failed to replicate his original findings, which turned out to be with methamphetamine and not MDMA.
NIDA's cover letter: http://www.maps.org/mdma/retraction/foia012804/cover1.html Documents: http://www.maps.org/mdma/retraction/foia012804/progress1.html Dr. Ricaurte's letter to NIDA: http://www.maps.org/mdma/retraction/foia012804/letter1.html Rick Doblin's comments: http://www.maps.org/mdma/retraction/foia012804/index.html
4. More media on Dr. Ricaurte's MDMA retracted neurotoxicity study
On February 23, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an excellent and detailed article by Thomas Bartlett discussing the Ricaurte scandal and its impact on the public's faith in science. Read this article, "Ecstasy Agonistes," at http://www.maps.org/media/che022304.html.
On February 25, Rick Doblin participated in an online chat at the Chronicle of Higher Education's website on this topic. You can read the archived chat at:
5. Peter Jennings Ecstasy documentary tentatively to air March 30, 2004 at 10 PM.
The Peter Jennings documentary on Ecstasy originally scheduled to be broadcast in mid-September but postponed for revisions due to the Ricaurte retraction a week before, then rescheduled for March 8, has been rescheduled once again. ABC network execs are now more comfortable with the balanced content of the show and are moving it to a better timeslot that could attract about twice as many viewers. Tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, March 30, at 10 p.m., the documentary tells the story of Ecstasy's history, cultural use, and research and includes interviews with Rick Doblin and many others. It should be fascinating.
6. MAPS Board of Directors meets to discuss strategy and vision
On Valentine's Day weekend, the MAPS board and staffers Brandy Doyle and Valerie Mojeiko met in San Francisco to discuss MAPS' strategy and vision for the short and long-term future. The board, consisting of Rick Doblin, Marybeth Home (educator and community-builder), and John Gilmore, a philanthropist and drug policy activist, talked about contingency plans in case of success. These included a focus on MAPS' goal of functioning as a non-profit pharmaceutical company, the necessity of large-scale fundraising, and a commitment to finding the quickest possible route to making medical marijuana available to patients.
7. DEA requests letters from doctors regarding UMass Amherst medical pot farm
On February 11, Prof. Lyle Craker spoke at length with Ms. Helen Kaupong of the DEA, and learned that a meeting will take place in early April 2004 at which DEA officials will determine whether to recommend to senior DEA Administrators to approve or reject the license for the UMass Amherst marijuana production facility. Ms. Kaupong indicated that it would help our case if we could obtain letters from physicians indicating that the product available from NIDA was not adequate and that an alternative source of supply was required. It's frustrating that DEA's meeting is scheduled so far in the future, since about 4 1/2 months have already elapsed since the end of DEA's public comment period. It's also not clear why these letters are needed, since the law clearly requires competition in the supply of Schedule I drugs. Furthermore, MAPS as a sponsor of research has already indicated that NIDA's supply is inadequate, and Dr. Ethan Russo has already written to DEA to say that an alternative to NIDA' supply is required. Still, MAPS will work with other organizations to gather letters and submit them to DEA.
8. John Gilmore donates $100,000 for start-up fund, initially for UMass Amherst project.
MAPS board member John Gilmore generously donated $100,000 to MAPS for the creation of a start-up fund to assist new research projects in getting off the ground, with the first project being the UMass Amherst medical marijuana production facility. John's intention is for the start-up fund to be used as a catalyst to start the UMass Amherst project, with the money to be replenished if the UMass Amherst project becomes fully funded so that the funds can then be used again to help catalyze another research project.
9 Assistant Surgeon General evaluating vaporizer project for "scientific merit"
The scientific review of the vaporizer protocol being conduced by the federal Dept. of Health and Human Services is now being supervised by Assistant Surgeon General Arthur J. Lawrence Ph.D. Mr. Joel Egertson, senior drug policy advisor to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, has retired and the responsibility for the review has been reassigned. A revised and updated package of information was submitted January 29, 2004 by Chemic Labs to Assistant Surgeon General Lawrence. If HHS determines that the vaporizer protocol is scientifically meritorious, NIDA will agree to sell us 10 grams of marijuana and DEA will be required to address our request to import 10 grams of marijuana from the Dutch Office of Medicinal Cannabis. The protocol is a rigorous investigation and, if reviewed in an unbiased manner, will be determined to be scientifically meritorious. MAPS initially requested permission in June 2003 to purchase marijuana from NIDA and import marijuana from the Dutch. This delay is clear evidence why NIDA's monopoly on the supply of marijuana for research serves more to obstruct than to facilitate marijuana research.
10. MAPS staffer Valerie Mojeiko developing outcome study for ibogaine treatment clinics.
MAPS staff member Valerie Mojeiko, in conjunction with the staff of the Iboga Therapy House in Vancouver and the Ibogaine Association in Mexico, is creating a protocol for a follow-up study on the efficacy of ibogaine therapy in the treatment of drug addiction. Case studies have indicated that Ibogaine, a potent psychedelic plant-derivative, may have addiction-interrupting properties including an ability to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of opiate withdrawal and reduce craving for a prolonged period post-treatment. Ibogaine is currently legal in both Canada and Mexico but is a Schedule I substance in the US. While these clinics and others treat patients outside the US, none have kept good data on treatment outcomes, and little information is shared between clinics.
11. Humphry Osmond, LSD research pioneer and creator of the word 'psychedelic', passes away.
The following is from a February 22 obituary published in the New York Times. For the full text of the article, go to http://www.maps.org/media/nyt022204.html
Humphry Osmond, 86, Who Sought Medicinal Value in Psychedelic Drugs, Dies
By Douglas Martin, New York Times Obituaries, February 22, 2004.
Humphry Osmond, the psychiatrist who coined the word "psychedelic" for the drugs to which he introduced the writer and essayist Aldous Huxley, died on Feb. 6 at his home in Appleton, Wis. He was 86. The cause was cardiac arrhythmia, said his daughter Euphemia Blackburn of Appleton, where Dr. Osmond moved to four years ago. Dr. Osmond entered the history of the counterculture by supplying hallucinogenic drugs to Huxley, who ascribed mystical significance to them in his playfully thoughtful, widely read book "The Doors of Perception," from which the rock group the Doors took its name. But in his own view and in that of some other scientists, Dr. Osmond was most important for inspiring researchers who saw drugs like L.S.D. and mescaline as potential treatments for psychological ailments. By the mid-1960's, medical journals had published more than 1,000 papers on the subject, and Dr. Osmond's work using L.S.D. to treat alcoholics drew particular interest. . . Bill Wilson, a co-founder of AlcoholicsAnonymous, met Dr. Osmond and took L.S.D. himself, strongly agreeing that it could help many alcoholics. . . He was disappointed he could not pursue his research into hallucinogens, Mrs. Blackburn, his daughter, said. "I'm sure he was very saddened by it," she said. "It could have helped millions of people."
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