MAPS News: June 2008 - First legal dose
of LSD administered!
MAPS Members, Supporters,
There's lots of exciting news to
report this month. Here's what's going on:
LSD-Assisted Psychotherapy Study Begins!
- Ying guang de: Reactions to the Death of Albert Hofmann
& the Renewal of LSD Research
- Win Glassware
from Dr. Shulgins Lab By Turning Your Friends
on to MAPS
- Opportunity to
be Named in Next Edition of LSD: My
Problem Child by Albert Hofmann
- Sen. Barack Obama Will Likely
Support the Development of MAPS Medical Marijuana Production Facility
- New Psilocybin
Neurogenesis Study Begins at the University of
- Boston Phoenix Article Discusses Psychedelic Research at
PTSD Treatment Study with MDMA Nears Completion
Allows More MDMA to Non-Responders
MDMA/PTSD Study Moves Forward
- New Study
Design Finalized During Canadian MDMA/PTSD Protocol Meeting
- MAPS Helps
Texas High School Student With Honors Class Project
- Boom Festival
Seeks PsyEMS Volunteers
- Invitation to
Camp at Entheon Village with MAPS at Burning Man
Sasha Shulgin Off to Conquer the World After
Recovery from Heart Surgery
* * *
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carry out pioneering research and educational projects. To donate, learn about
the benefits of MAPS membership, or purchase books, clothes, art, and other
merchandise, click here: store.maps.org/ * * *
1. First LSD-Assisted
Psychotherapy Study Begins!
The first subject was treated in Peter Gasser, MDs LSD/end-of-life anxiety
study in Switzerland on May 13th. This marks the beginning of what will become
the first LSD-assisted psychotherapy study in over 36 years. While were sad
that Albert Hofmann didnt live to actually see the first administration of LSD
in this study, were glad he knew the study was fully approved and that the
initial subject was going to be enrolled in the study soon. This subjects
second and final experimental session will take place on June 27. Dr. Gasser
will be writing about the details of this initial research in his report for
the upcoming Summer MAPS Bulletin.
So far, generous supporters have pledged $125,000 of the $225,000 needed to
complete this important study, and we have faith that enough people will feel
called to donate the remaining $100,000.
2. Ying guang de: Reactions
to the Death of Albert Hofmann & the Renewal of LSD Research
Publications the world over have paid tribute to Albert Hofmann, the legendary
Swiss chemist and discoverer of LSD, who died last month at the age of 102.
Many of these tributes and obituaries can
be found on the MAPS website. Rolling
Stone magazine ran a good article by Robert Greenfield about Albert's death
and the renewal of LSD research, which was one of the many articles that quoted
MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD and mentions Albert's association with MAPS.
The Economist printed an obituary of
Albert Hofmann in their May 8th edition, which contained some incorrect
information in it about LSD research still being shut down. Rick Doblin wrote a
letter to the magazine--to provide correct information about the current LSD
psychotherapy research that MAPS is sponsoring--which was published in both the
print and audio (mp3)
editions of the publication. Rick wrote to The
Economist on the suggestion of Catherine Le, a MAPS member in Belgium. We
would like to thank her for making this suggestion. We would also like to
encourage other MAPS members to keep us informed of any incorrect information
that they spot in the media about psychedelic research, as these are
opportunities for us to help educate people.
The medias attitude toward psychedelic research does seem to be shifting as a
result of our efforts and changes are happening all over the world. There is a
new wind blowing, said Rick Doblin. Rick said that he received an interesting
message recently from a potential new donor who works in Shanghai. This person
wrote about the reaction that some of his staff had to the New York Times article about Albert's death and the renewal of
LSD research. He said, I was in my office in Shanghai last week and overheard
one of my Chinese staff discuss this article around the proverbial water
cooler. I think this change in attitude evidenced as
casual conversation by native Chinese is very significant. I heard the word
'psychedelic' for the first time in Chinese--ying guang de.
3. Win Glassware from Dr. Shulgins Lab By Turning
Your Friends on to MAPS
MAPS members should have received their spring Bulletins in the mail by now, which is a special issue that I
edited about technology and psychedelics. (Ill also be editing another special
edition of the Bulletin next
spring--which will be about ecology and psychedelics--so please contact me if
Along with the copy of the spring Bulletin,
most US domestic members were also sent an extra copy of the previous Bulletin. We are requesting members to
help MAPS grow through word-of-mouth, and are encouraging people to give these
extra Bulletins away to someone who
might become a MAPS member. We will be holding a raffle for people who bring in
new MAPS members, with prizes such as glassware from Alexander Sasha Shulgins lab signed by the legendary chemist who
rediscovered MDMA. For each friend who becomes a MAPS member before July 15th
as a result of your recommendation, you will be given one ticket in a July 16th
drawing to win a signed piece of glassware from Dr Shulgins
famous psychedelic laboratory, accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity.
Just tell your friend(s) to let us know you suggested they become a MAPS member
by mentioning your name in the notes field if they join on-line, or by
mentioning your name if they call the office or join by mail.
Rick Doblin would like to personally thank the person who signs up the most
members by inviting him or her over for dinner. Hell even buy your plane
ticket (up to $400).
MAPS needs to grow in order to fund our promising research studies. The
psychedelic research renaissance, and our struggle to conduct medical marijuana
research, has come this far thanks to you and others like you. And our
continued success depends on this community effort. To participate, go to: www.maps.org/donate
4. Opportunity to be Named in
Next Edition of LSD: My Problem Child
by Albert Hofmann
Copies of Albert Hofmanns classic book LSD:
My Problem Child are running low and MAPS is
planning to reprint a new edition in the next few months. This will be a
special updated edition of the book, with new information about Albert's death
and funeral. MAPS is offering a chance for one lucky supporter to make this
book possible and be thanked for eternity on the title page if they are the
first to pledge $12,000 to the project. Since the construction of the MAPS
Pharmaceutical & Medical Research Center is still somewhere down the road,
we don't have any name plaque opportunities for buildings just yet--but we can
thank donors in a book. Subsidizing the publishing costs for LSD: My Problem Child would be a great
way to honor Albert's legacy and promote the renewal of LSD research.
5. Sen. Barack Obama Will Likely Support the Development of MAPS Medical
Marijuana Production Facility
The frustrating obstruction of our vaporizer research highlights the importance
of removing NIDA/PHS from medical marijuana research, which can be accomplished
only if we can break NIDAs monopoly on the supply of
marijuana legal for use in federally-approved research. The good news is that
if the U.S. gets a Democratic administration in the next presidential election,
this could help us to move forward with our marijuana cultivation project at
the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In Six Minutes With Barack by James Pitkin (click here to
watch the video on YouTube), here's what
Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama
had to say on Medical Marijuana:
Pitkin: Would you stop the Drug
Enforcement Administrations raids on Oregon medical marijuana grows?
Sen. Barack Obama: I would because I think our federal
agents have better things to do, like catching criminals and preventing
terrorism. The way I want to approach the issue of medical marijuana is to base
it on science. And if there is sound science that supports the use of medical
marijuana, and if it is controlled and prescribed in a way that other medicine
is prescribed, then its something we should consider.
6. New Psilocybin Neurogenesis Study Begins at
the University of South Florida
Researchers Juan Sanchez-Ramos PhD, MD and Briony Catlow MS at the University of South Florida in Tampa have
just started an exciting new study to see if psilocybin can help promote the
birth and development of new brain cells (neurogenesis)
in an area of the adult brain called the hippocampus, which is associated with
learning and memory. The psilocybin that is being used in this study is coming
from an unused portion of a gram of psilocybin that MAPS purchased several
years ago for $12,250 and then donated to the University of Arizona for Dr.
Francisco Morenos psilocybin/OCD study.
The official title of the new study is Effects of Psilocybin and other Selective
Serotonin Agonists on Hippocampal-Dependent Learning
and Neurogenesis. It is based on the findings of
several researchers who have shown that hippocampal-mediated
learning and memory is related to the generation of new neurons in the adult
brain. In experiments with laboratory animals, inhibition of neurogenesis with a toxic drug resulted in deficits in
specific forms of memory. This provides evidence for the notion that promoting neurogenesis might improve some aspects of memory and
cognition. The proposition that psilocybin impacts cognition, and stimulates hippocampal neurogenesis, is
based on the evidence that psilocybin mimics the neurotransmitter serotonin,
which--when acting on specific serotonin receptor subtypes (most likely the
Serotonin 2A receptor)--is involved in the regulation of neurogenesis
in the hippocampus. Were looking forward to hearing about the results from this
7. Boston Phoenix Article Discusses Psychedelic Research at Harvard
The June 6th issue of the Boston Phoenix
ran a cover story article entitled Will Harvard Drop
Acid Again? by Peter Bebergal,
which is about the renewal of psychedelic research at Harvard Medical School.
Although the article is somewhat framed in terms of Timothy Learys tumultuous
time at Harvard in the early 60s, it mostly points to the medical promise that
is coming from Dr. John Halpern MDs research with
MDMA and dying cancer patients, as well as the potential research that hed
like to do with LSD and psilocybin for the treatment of cluster headaches.
8. Breakthrough PTSD Treatment
Study with MDMA Nears Completion
Michael Mithoefer MDs US MDMA/PTSD study is almost
complete! In a few days, subjects #18, #19 and #20 will complete their final
non-drug psychotherapy sessions. For final outcome measures, one will be
completed later in June and another one in early July. Subject #21 will have
her third MDMA session in July, and her final outcome measures in September. After that the study will be finished and well analyze the data.
Then well prepare a report to the FDA and write a scientific article for
submission to a peer-reviewed journal for publication. There are many steps in
our march toward Phase 3 trials. However, with the completion of this initial
pilot study--which will become the foundation on which everything else will be
built--eventually, the prescription use of MDMA for PTSD will be available for
all who need it. A breakthrough treatment for PTSD is sorely neededand with
your help, we will give this gift of healing to the world.
9. Switzerland Allows More
MDMA to Non-Responders
In the last update I reported that SwissMedic,
and our Swiss Ethics Committee, have agreed to let non-responders in Dr. Peter Oehen MDs Swiss MDMA/PTSD study have the option of
receiving two additional sessions--and the possibility of going up to a 150 mg
dose, with 75 mg supplemental dose from 125 mg, with 62.5 mg supplemental dose.
All of the subjects will receive three sessions, and if co-therapists and
patient agree, nonresponders will be able to have a
fourth, and perhaps also a fifth session, at the slightly larger doses
One subject has now received the 150 mg dose. Dr. Oehen
reports that this subject tolerated the increased dose without problem, and has
improved a little since then, although he says it is hard to tell if the
improvement is from the higher dose or just from the additional session. The
second 150 mg session is scheduled for the end of June.
An anonymous supporter sent MAPS $29,000 to complete the Swiss MDMA/PTSD study.
However, this was for completing it as it had been originally designed--without
the additional sessions for non-responders--so we still have $20,000 left to
accept from those that want to be part of this historic study.
10. Israeli MDMA/PTSD Study
The second and third subjects have been enrolled in the Israeli MDMA/PTSD
study. Additional subjects are in the midst of the screening process. Our
Israeli research team is gathering experience and momentum, and the time for a
monitoring visit from MAPS Clinical Research monitoring team is approaching.
11. New Study Design
Finalized During Canadian MDMA/PTSD Protocol Meeting
On June 5th MAPS President Rick Doblin, Psychologist Andrew Feldmar
PhD, Psychiatrist Ingrid Pacey MD, Michael Mithoefer MD, Valerie Mojeiko,
and Ilsa Jerome PhD participated in a teleconference
to discuss in detail the protocol for MAPS Canadian MDMA/PTSD pilot study.
They came to final agreement on the design, so that the protocol and informed
consent can now be fully elaborated. Once the protocol and informed consent
form are completed, they will be reviewed one final time by the group and then
submitted for approval to the Canadian Institutional Review Board (IRB), then
to Health Canada.
The proposed study will include twelve subjects who will each undergo three
experimental sessions, with a fourth optional session. Weve added one more
non-drug psychotherapy session before the first MDMA session, on Dr. Mithoefers suggestion, because he found that more
preparation will deepen the therapeutic alliance and
make the difficult emotional work during the experimental sessions flow easier.
As in our other MDMA/PTSD studies, were planning for the experimental group to
receive 125 milligrams initially, with a supplemental dose of 62.5 mg after two
hours. The control group will receive 25 milligrams for the placebo dose, with
a 12.5 mg supplemental dose two hours later. For the third experimental session
and the fourth optional experimental session, the dose may be increased to 150
mg initially with a supplemental dose of 75 mg, depending on the clinical
judgment of the co-therapist team and the agreement of the subject. The 150 mg
dose has been well-tolerated in our Swiss MDMA/PTSD
study and so we want to explore this dose further.
Well also have a second stage to the study where the placebo subjects can go
through the whole process open label. Our primary goal with this study is to
see if we can replicate the results that we've obtained in the U.S. MDMA/PTSD
12. MAPS Helps Texas High
School Student With Honors Class Project
MAPS President Rick Doblin responded to an appeal for assistance from Torrin Glic--a junior in Cedar
Park High School in Austin, Texas--with an honors class project about MDMA
research, especially for PTSD. Torrin delivered an
oral presentation on the subject--accompanied by a Powerpoint
presentation, before a panel of judges--and his teacher said it was the
best presentation in the class.
Rick also assisted MJ, a high school senior, on his senior exit paper by
being interviewed as an expert witness, a requirement for an A on the paper. MJ
chose the thesis that LSD had a positive effect on the scientific community
throughout the past fifty years. MJ received a 100% score on his paper!
Educating students is an important part of MAPS mission, and in the midst of
everything else were doing, we try to find time to help students with class
projects related to MAPS mission. Congratulations Torrin
and MJ! Great work!
13. Boom Festival Seeks PsyEMS Volunteers
The Boom Festival in Portugal is now accepting applications for volunteers to
provide Psychedelic Emergency Services. If you are interested in getting
involved and can pay for your own travel expenses to the festival, please
14. Invitation to Camp at Entheon Village with
MAPS at Burning Man
MAPS will be participating this year in creating the third incarnation of Entheon Village at Burning Man. This camp was first
established in 2006 for MAPS' 20th Anniversary (which was also Burning Man's
20th Anniversary). Entheon Village will have a
different focus this year than in the prior two years, when the emphasis was on
offering a wide range of experiences in art, science and spirituality (the
fruits of psychedelics) to the larger Burning Man community. This year, we're
going to focus instead on enhancing the communal living experience for the
people at Entheon Village by offering an organic,
vegan meal plan with meat option, communal eating and gathering spaces,
showers, potties, etc. We're going to be located off the Esplanade and closer
to Center Camp. We're also going to forgo all-night music and dance parties,
but will still offer, in a large dome and other structures, music and dancing,
a lecture series, holotropic breathwork,
and other activities. Entheon Village will also
include the zendo for meditation. For more
information, and to register to camp at Entheon
Village, see the Entheon
Village Web site.
15. Alexander Sasha Shulgin Off to Conquer
the World After Recovery from Heart Surgery
I reported in the last two email news update about how Alexander Sasha Shulgin--legendary psychedelic chemist, consciousness
explorer, and author--had heart surgery on Tuesday, April 8th. The surgery was
done in order to replace a defective aortic heart valve. According to his wife
Anne, [Sashas physician, Dr. Dharan, told him that]
he could now sit in the passenger seat of the car (hes been relegated to the
back seat until now, in case the airbag deployed, which could have busted open
the sutures). He can also lift more than five pounds, (which means he can take
out the garbage), and he can stretch his arms as high as is comfortable
(theres still some pain when he reaches too far, but that will slowly fade).
Because our amazing super-surgeon, Dr. Dharan, has
handed Sasha his graduation papyrus (so to speak), and told him to go out and
conquer the world (or at least to continue doing your important work), and we
wont be seeing him again until the next book is published, at which time well
present him with a copy, inscribed with a whole bunch of Thank Yous--again.
One of the most common
remarks that I hear from people who have benefited from their use of
psychedelics is how grateful they are to have had the experience. For those of
us who are grateful, MAPS gives us the chance to express that gratitude. If you
value the important research that MAPS is initiating all over the world, to
help make psychedelic drugs into prescription medicines, then please consider
honoring that by making a generous donation to MAPS today.
Onward and Upward,
David Jay Brown, M.A.,
MAPS Guest Editor