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Media > Newsletter: August 8, 2008



MAPS News August 2008 - What do Israel, Jordan, and Burning Man Have in Common?


Greetings MAPS members and enthusiasts,

I would like to introduce myself as the newest addition to the MAPS staff. Like many of you, psychedelics have had an incredibly positive impact on my life. I chose to work for MAPS because I am one hundred percent behind MAPS mission. Our world will be better off when the medicines that have benefited me are legally and safely available to all those who seek them.

MAPS embodies many of the principles and values that I hold dear, because I am an avid drug policy reform activist. MAPS has positioned itself as a credible leader in the drug reform movement. More so, MAPS is filling a niche that will prove to be an integral role in disarming the war on drugs. We are poking a hole in the dogma that maintains the governments bullheaded stance on drug control each time our research proves that psychedelics and marijuana deserve to become prescription medicines.

Over the coming years I hope to become friends with many of you. One of my goals here is to increase our membership base and revenue, so we can fund the strategic projects that will lead to the reintegration of psychedelic medicines and marijuana into our society. I will be seeking your help to accomplish these goals.

We can work together to reach out to those who are not yet supporting us. We can work together to find new and creative means of raising funds. We can work together to accelerate MAPS toward our goal of opening legal psychedelic therapy clinics around the world and legitimizing the medical use of marijuana.

It is such an honor for me to join the MAPS team! I hope that you will appreciate hearing from me each month in these email updates. I welcome any comments, questions, or suggestions that you take the time to share with me.

With great aspirations,
Randy Hencken, MA, BS
Communication and Marketing Director, MAPS

There's alot of exciting things happening this month at MAPS. Here is a sample of what's going on:

  1. Final Experimental Treatment Session Conducted in MAPS Flagship US MDMA/PTSD Study
  2. Israeli MDMA/PTSD Research Team Meets with MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD to Review Progress, Plan Expansion
  3. Possible Jordanian MDMA/PTSD Study Explored
  4. MDMA/PTSD Treatment Manual Revision in the Works
  5. MAPS Supports Dr. Donald Abrams Medical Marijuana ResearchSeeks Patients
  6. Israeli Medical Cannabis Production Facilities Multiply
  7. Save the Date! MAPS Fundraiser: Post-Burning Man Cocktail Party Scheduled for October 11 in San Francisco
  8. Horizons Perspectives on Psychedelics Forum Sept. 19-21, New York
  9. Women's Visionary Congress at Wilbur Hot Springs, October 10th to 12th Last Chance to Enter Raffle for Sasha Shulgins Legendary Glassware
  10. Ecstasy Rising DVD for Sale at the MAPS Online Store
  11. Volunteer Opportunity: MAPS Seeks Research Assistant and Co-Author For Long-Term Follow-Up to our US MDMA/PTSD Study
  12. Volunteer Opportunity: Do you speak Hebrew, German or Spanish? Translators Wanted
  13. "Emerging from the Drug War Dark Age: LSD and Other Psychedelic Medicines Make a Comeback" on Alternet
  14. MAPS Member of the Month: British Indie Rock/Electronica Band Maps finds MAPS on YouTUBE
  15. MAPS Welcomes Andrew, Our Summer Intern
  16. www.maps.organizational Planning Meetings Completed
  17. Burning Man: Camping in Entheon Village at Filling Up
  18. Burning Man: Speakers scheduled for MAPS Psychedelic Lecture Series at Entheon Village
* * * Dues-paying MAPS members are empowering staff, scientists, and volunteers to carry out pioneering research and educational projects. To donate, learn about the benefits of MAPS membership, or purchase books, clothes, art, and other merchandise, visit: store.maps.org/ * * *



1. Final Experimental Treatment Session Conducted in MAPS Flagship US MDMA/PTSD Study:

MAPS members can now celebrate the final administration of MDMA in our US MDMA/PTSD pilot study, conducted by Michael Mithoefer, MD and Annie Mithoefer, BSN. On July 18, the 21st subject participated in her third and final experimental session. The subject will continue to participate in non-drug psychotherapy sessions and will have her final follow-up evaluations around September 18, officially ending this study. Then the data will be analyzed and a paper will be written for publication in a scientific journal and for presentation to the FDA. A separate study that evaluates patient outcomes one year after treatment will begin shortly.

I'm tremendously gratified to be bringing the study to a close with very promising results, Michael reflected about the MAPS MDMA/PTSD pilot study. Annie and I also find that it's a bittersweet time, because we've so enjoyed getting to know and working with the people who have volunteered to participate in the study. We have tremendous appreciation and respect for their willingness to help us do this study and their courage, determination andcommitmentto their own deep healing.

We can now report that there were no drug-related Serious Adverse Events (SAEs), demonstrating that MDMA can be safely used under proper circumstances. The preliminary data analysis has demonstrated efficacy with this method of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. These results provide evidence supporting the conclusion that further large- scale studies are warranted. Our massive challenge over the next 5-7 years is to conduct Phase 3 studies that will lead to an era when MDMA-assisted psychotherapy is approved by the FDA.

MAPS is seeking $50,000 for data analysis, writing a paper about the results, refining our treatment manual, and developing our therapist training program, all of which we are planning to complete during the remaining months of 2008.

2. Israeli MDMA/PTSD Research Team Meets with MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD to Review Progress, Plan Expansion

On July 27, MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD went to Beer Yaakov Mental Health Center, near Tel Aviv, to meet with the Israeli MDMA/PTSD studys (PDF) principal investigator Moshe Kotler, MD, former chief psychiatrist of the Israeli Defense Forces, and co-therapists Sergio Marchevsky, MD, Rakefet Rodrigez, MD and Marina Kupchik, MD. Rick also spent half a day reviewing the records of the study with Einev Sagy, Beer Yaakovs Clinical Research Associate.

The Israeli MDMA/PTSD team has now completed the treatment of two subjects and is in the midst of treating a third. Enrollment of new subjects is going to accelerate since weve decided to expand the inclusion criteria to subjects with PTSD from all causes instead of only war and terrorism-related PTSD. Our eventual Phase 3 studies will include subjects with PTSD from any cause, so we want our Israeli team to gain experience working with a variety of subjects with PTSD.

On July 28, Doblin participated in a meeting with Dr. Talma Hendler at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, which Dr. Marina Kupchik had arranged. Dr. Hendler is interested in conducting functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) research in our MDMA/PTSD subjects before and after treatment, to see if any brain changes can be associated with treatment outcomes. Dr. Hendler and associates presented information about brain changes associated with PTSD and about their research methodology. One subject in our Israeli MDMA/PTSD study has already had an fMRI scan in a pilot test. Based on the information presented, we are going forward to expand our Israeli MDMA/PTSD protocol to include an fMRI study.

This new study is somewhat similar to our MDMA/PTSD research in Switzerland (PDF), in which subjects go to the University of Zurich before and after the MDMA/PTSD treatments so that Dr. Franz Vollenweider and associates can administer an electroencephalogram (EEG), and take heart rate variability and startle reflex measurements. If we can identify physiological measurements that are associated with therapeutic outcomes, we will be able to make the most convincing case about the efficacy of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in treating PTSD, and we will be able to publish our results in the most respected scientific journals.

3. Possible Jordanian MDMA/PTSD Study Explored

While in the Middle East, MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD went to Amman, Jordan for a meeting with a Royal Jordanian Military psychiatrist to discuss the possibility of MAPS sponsoring a small MDMA/PTSD pilot study in Jordan. The meeting went well and further discussions and exchange of information will take place over the coming months as this opportunity is explored in more detail.

By focusing on healing trauma in both soldiers and civilians in the US, Switzerland, Israel, Canada, Jordan, Spain and other countries, were hoping that MAPS can gain essential data for our MDMA drug development effort and can also contribute in a small way toward the healing of larger conflicts.

4. MDMA/PTSD Treatment Manual Revision in the Works

June May Ruse, PhD, clinical psychologist and lead author of MAPS MDMA/PTSD treatment manual, worked with Dr. Michael and Annie Mithoefer in Charleston, South Carolina during the first week in August on the next version of the MDMA/PTSD treatment manual (PDF).

Michael Mithoefer reports, Annie and June and I are having a very productive time watching sessions, editing parts of the manual and the adherence measures and having a lot of discussion about how to do the training. This whole process of watching sessions together and discussing them and beginning to narrow down what to use in training is really valuable and really time consuming. We're making a good start but we have a long way to go still.

The treatment manual is being updated to refine the description of our standardized methodology for conducting MDMA/PTSD therapy and research. Standardization is an essential element in the drug development process and psychotherapy research.

The treatment manual will contain the key elements of the MDMA-assisted psychotherapy process for treating PTSD and will become the core of our therapist-training program. We need to develop a standardized treatment methodology with standardized adherence measures for use by trained raters. The raters will evaluate therapist adherence to the method described in the manual, both to ensure that our treatment approach is being used by all of our different co-therapist teams and also so that we can apply for grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). We know it may be a long-shot that we will ever actually obtain federal funding for MDMA/PTSD research. However, its worthwhile to submit grant applications to the NIMH to help educate NIMH and its grant reviewers, and for us to learn from their comments and critiques.

5. MAPS Supports Dr. Donald Abrams Medical Marijuana ResearchSeeks Patients

MAPS has funded several patients transportation and lodging expenses in order to participate in Dr. Donald Abrams medical marijuana research at University of California, San Francisco. Abrams is investigating the effects of vaporized medical marijuana in conjunction with opioid medications for chronic pain patients (study info PDF).

One of the patients reported to us after his treatment that he found the vaporized marijuana reduced his need to take narcotics.

I am back in New York now, the patient wrote, when I was in the study I did not need to take my Dilaudid [a narcotic medication] which I usually take every morning and sometimes during the day. I attribute this to the marijuana I took when I was in the study.

The patients full report can be found on the MAPS website.

Prospective participants should call (415) 476-9554 ext. 315, or email pcouey-at-php.ucsf.edu for more information (PDF) on enrolling in the study. If accepted, they can contact MAPS at (831) 336-4325 or (831) 332-0096 to request funding for transportation and lodging.

6. Israeli Medical Cannabis Production Facilities Multiply

On July 28, MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD met with Dr. Yehuda Baruch, the Ministry of Health official who oversees Israels compassionate medical cannabis program. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how MAPS could further assist the Ministry of Health in expanding the compassionate use of cannabis to additional patients, and to explore opportunities to help catalyze medical cannabis research in Israel.

MAPS has previously donated over $50,000 to a legal medical cannabis production facility in Israel founded by Tsachi Cohen, the first of three facilities currently approved to grow cannabis for free distribution to Ministry-approved patients. Since sales are not permitted at this time, subsidies are required to cover costs of production. MAPS has also donated $5000 to the Ministry itself to help in the processing of applications from physicians seeking legal access to cannabis for their patients. MAPS support of medical cannabis in Israel was made possible by generous donations to MAPS by David Bronner, of Dr. Bronners Magic All-One soaps and other products. David is considering the possibility of additional donations to MAPS to support medical cannabis in Israel, and has asked Rick to explore the situation and make recommendations.

Dr. Baruch and Doblin discussed the possibility of MAPS supporting an educational campaign informing Israeli physicians of the potential availability of cannabis for their patients. The two also discussed possible MAPS support for an additional facility in the initial stages of production. From Dr. Baruchs perspective, working to increase the number of approved patients isnt a crucial goal compared to securing the supply of free cannabis for the current patient load.

On July 28, Doblin inspected a newly-licensed facility being run by Yohai Golan. This facility is just beginning to produce a relatively small amount of cannabis that will be sufficient to supply about 30 patients. On August 3, Doblin and Golan had a productive meeting with officials from the Israeli Cancer Association to discuss informing physicians about the compassionate access program. They also discussed conducting research into the use of cannabis in treating nausea, pain, appetite loss, depression, and anxiety in cancer patients.

On August 4, Doblin met with Tsachi Cohen and associates to discuss the status of their operation. They further discussed the possibility of conducting an analysis of survey information already gathered from patients to whom he has provided cannabis, but not yet analyzed.

7. Save the Date! MAPS Fundraiser: Post-Burning Man Cocktail Party Scheduled for October 11 in San Francisco

We will be hosting a dinner and cocktail party in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco on Saturday, October 11. This will be a perfect chance to reconnect with the community that gathers on the Playa and those who were there in spirit. The party is the night before San Franciscos Burning Man Decompression, so its the perfect time for a visit to the SF Bay Area (not to mention the beautiful weather in the city that time of year).

Save the date now, and we will release more details next month. Whether we see you at Burning Man or not; we hope to see you there!

8. Horizons Perspectives on Psychedelics Forum Sept. 19-21, New York

The second annual Horizons conference is scheduled for September 19-21 at the Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Speakers include MAPS president Rick Doblin PhD, Alex and Allyson Grey, Roland Griffiths PhD, David Nichols, PhD, John Halpern MD, Sasha and Ann Shulgin, Daniel Pinchbeck, and others. More information and tickets can be found on their website.

9. Women's Visionary Congress at Wilbur Hot Springs, October 10th to 12th

This announcement comes from former MAPS staff member Sarah Hufford and MAPS member Annie Harrison:

We are pleased to announce that the 2008 Women's Visionary Congress (WVC) will take place this year at Wilbur Hot Springs from October 10th to 12th. Strong community support for last year's Women's Visionary Congress (listen to the talks from last year here) suggests that this should be an annual gathering and we invite you to participate. Price for this year's WVC is $425 which includes all events, delicious food, camping and the powerful healing waters of Wilbur's natural hot mineral springs. Those who need financial assistance may apply for scholarships by sending an email to ah-at-well.com

The 2008 Women's Congress will feature a talk by Ann and Sasha Shulgin. We are honored that they can join us. To purchase tickets, email Sarah at info-at-visionarycongress.org or call (831) 252-0023. A limited number of rooms at the Wilbur Hotel are also available. Please contact Sarah for more details or consult www.visionarycongress.org for additional information and updates about the gathering.

Carolyn Garcia, Mariavittoria Mangini, and Annie Harrison now manage the WVC. The Women's Visionary Congress supports women healers, scholars, educators and artists who support the expansion of consciousness. The WVC organizers wish to thank MAPS for serving as our nonprofit sponsor in 2007 and for supporting the Women's Entheogen Fund.

10. Last Chance to Enter Raffle for Sasha Shulgins Legendary Glassware

August 15 is the last day of our membership drive with the incentive to win an autographed piece of Alexander Sasha Shulgins glassware, complete with a certificate of authenticity.

Imagine owning a magnificent artifact from one of the worlds foremost psychedelic researchers.

Participants receive one raffle ticket for each new member who is referred to us. The raffle date is less than one week away. Now is the time give your friends the gift of MAPS membership. Members receive our tri-annual bulletin with informative articles by contemporary writers and incredible psychedelic artwork. Members who donate more than $50 get to choose one of many MAPS-published books.

If all that isnt enough, we have one more incentive. If you are the person who signs up the most new members, we will fly you to Boston to have dinner with MAPS founder and President Rick Doblin, PhD where he will personally thank you for your efforts.

11. Ecstasy Rising DVD for Sale at the MAPS Online Store

The late news reporter Peter Jennings one-hour documentary on MDMA, including interviews with MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD and legendary chemist Alexander Sasha Shulgin, originally aired on ABC in 2004, is available for purchase for just $10 in the MAPS online store. The video is a probing and entertaining documentary about MDMA and societys relationship with MDMA that debunks some anti-ecstasy educational campaigns. Also included on the DVD is Jennings discussion of his documentary on CNNs Larry King Live, and the ABC World News Tonight story on MAPS US MDMA/PTSD study that aired the same day as the Ecstasy Rising documentary.

12. Volunteer Opportunity: MAPS Seeks Research Assistant and Co-Author For Long-Term Follow-Up to our US MDMA/PTSD Study:

We are seeking a student or other volunteer to work with the Mithoefers on a one year follow up study to our flagship MDMA/PTSD study. Applicants may be motivated graduates or undergraduates in fields related to our research (i.e. psychology, psychiatry, medical fields, social sciences, etc.). This is a voluntary position. The volunteer will be rewarded with the prestige of co-authoring a paper that will appear in a scientific journal, and an invaluable learning experience.

The project will require administering a series of questionnaires to the 21 subjects who participated in the original MDMA/PTSD study as well as helping our independent rater schedule the re-administration of our primary outcome measure, the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS). The volunteer will speak, email, and exchange documents with the subjects on a periodic basis to gather relevant information for understanding the long-term effects of MDMA/PTSD psychotherapy.

This project will begin by the end of this summer, and will continue a little over one year. The final data will be collected in September 2009, and the papers should be completed shortly thereafter.
  • Ideal candidates are self-motivated, highly organized, proficient writers, and have a basic understanding of the competitive journal writing process.
  • Candidates should have competent communication skills, since they will be directly working with subjects from the MDMA/PTSD study.
  • Candidates must be able to enter data into a database.
  • A basic knowledge of statistics is helpful, but not necessary.
  • Candidates can be located anywhere, but should be able to travel to Charleston, South Carolina 2-3 times over the course of the year.
  • MAPS will pay for travel and study related expenses.
  • Candidates must have reliable access to a telephone.
  • Candidates must be able to manage highly sensitive and confidential materials.
Applicants should send a contact Curriculum Vita or resume, and a cover letter that demonstrates professional writing abilities to valerie-at-www.maps.org

13. Volunteer Opportunity: Do you speak Hebrew, German or Spanish? Translators Wanted:

Now that MAPS has all these great projects around the world, we also have lots of information in foreign languages. We can use help from our community to translate materials from Hebrew, German, and Spanish. If you are fluent in one of the languages and able to volunteer some time we would love to hear from you. This could also be a great opportunity for a student to receive school credit as an internship. Qualified volunteers should contactvalerie-at-www.maps.org.

14. "Emerging from the Drug War Dark Age: LSD and Other Psychedelic Medicines Make a Comeback" on Alternet:

Charles Shaw published an insightful article on psychedelic research and MAPS on Alternet last month.

Charles wrote: More than anyone else in his field, Doblin is all too familiar with what he refers to as the 40-year-long bad trip that researchers like him have faced in dealing with the fallout from the introduction of LSD and other psychedelic compounds to the Western psyche in the mid 1960s. This 40-year intellectual Dark Age, Doblin says, has been characterized by enormous fear and misinformation and a vested interest in exaggerated stories about drugs to keep prohibition alive.

15. MAPS Member of the Month: British Indie Rock/Electronica Band Maps finds MAPS on YouTUBE:

British alternative-electronica-indie band Maps singer James Chapman proudly displays his MAPS membership in a short online video. James and the band list the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies as one of their influences along with Modest Mouse, The Postal Service, The Beach Boys, Tiesto, Eliot Smith, Kraftwerk, Yo La Tengo, and several other great musicians.

We had no idea there was another MAPS out there!

We think it would be great if MAPS members would contact Maps and thank them for spreading the word about MAPS. If you have a Myspace page you can add Maps as a friend and send them a message (add MAPS too while youre there). You could also share their YouTUBE video with your friends in your email list.

16. MAPS Welcomes Andrew, Our Summer Intern:

Andrew, a neurochemistry student at Pitzer College, is interning with us here at the Love Creek office this summer. He is hard at work transcribing audiotapes of the experimental sessions from our MDMA/PTSD pilot study. He is a moderator of the popular online drug forumdrugs-forum.co.uk. He was inspired to join our efforts after a conversation with a friend of his parents who happens to be a MAPS member. Andrew has been a welcome addition to the office, and he is enthusiastic and knowledgeable about our work.

17. MAPS Organizational Planning Meetings Completed:

MAPS President Rick Doblin, PhD visited the Love Creek office this past month to review http://www.maps.organizational goals and accomplishments from the prior six months and to develop goals for the upcoming six months.

The MAPS staff outlined tasks and objectives for the second half of the year that we will use to guide our actions and evaluate our performance. As we continue to strive for excellence, we plan to increase our productivity, fine-tune our abilities to sponsor practical and groundbreaking research, increase our support base, and enjoy our jobs.

MAPS is in the second year of implementation of an organizational management tool known as Success Sheets. They are one of several tools shown to us by consultants at The Management Center. The Management Center has provided invaluable advice and support over the past year, as a gift from one of our donors, philanthropist Peter Lewis.

We all feel privileged to be a part of a great team doing delicate, difficult, and important work, and to have so much support out there to help us accomplish our goals.

18. Burning Man: Camping in Entheon Village at Filling Up:

Space is quickly vanishing for camping with MAPS Staff and like-minded individuals in Entheon Village at Burning Man 2008. Registration and fee information can be found at this URL: http://www.entheonvillage.com/content/view/57/118/.

19. Burning Man: Speakers scheduled for MAPS Psychedelic Lecture Series at Entheon Village:

The schedule of speakers for MAPS psychedelic lecture series at Entheon Village/Burning Man has been finalized and is listed here. There are many great sessions to attend including talks by MAPS president Rick Doblin PhD, Alexander Sasha and Ann Shulgin, MAPS Clinical Research Associate Valerie Mojeiko, Daniel Pinchbeck, and Me (Randolph Hencken MA).

Be sure to head over to the Entheon Village website and print the schedule so you may plan your Burning Man accordingly. Well see you on the Playa!

If youve read this far, you should know the answer to the riddle by now.

Q: What do Israel, Jordan, and Burning Man have in common?
A: All of these places were or will be visited by MAPS staff this summer.

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