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Media > Newsletter: September 12, 2008

MAPS Members, Supporters, and Friends,

Following MAPS' 20th anniversary gathering at Burning Man, the MAPS staff is dusty and sleep-deprived, yet immensely fulfilled, and enthused by the breadth of support that we received. Now, we're looking forward to initiating MDMA/PTSD pilot studies in Switzerland and Israel and a long-awaited long-term observational case study of ibogaine treatment for opiate-dependent subjects. We're also eagerly awaiting a recommendation from the DEA Administrative Law Judge in Prof. Craker's lawsuit for a MAPS-sponsored pharmaceutical-grade marijuana production facility -- it might come any day!

Here's the news:

1. MAPS' 20th Anniversary Gathering: Celebrating Progress and Planning for the Future
2. Psychedelic Emergency Services at Burning Man and Portugal's Boom Festival
3. Final Approval for MAPS-Sponsored Long-Term Ibogaine Observational Case Study
4. MAPS-Sponsored Swiss MDMA/PTSD Study Recieves Final Approval for Addendum
5. MDMA Arrives On-Site for Israeli MDMA/PTSD Study
6. MAPS-Sponsored Marijuana Production Facility Hanging in Balance, Awaiting Imminent Recommendation from DEA Judge
7. In the Media: Chicago Sun-Times Reports on LSD/Psilocybin Cluster Headache Research
8. New at the MAPS Store: Grof's Ultimate Journey, 2007 Wall Calendar, and New Selection of Classic MAPS Shirts and Hoodies
9. Autumn 2006 MAPS Bulletin: Coming Soon

***For MAPS Membership and Merchandise, Visit the MAPS Online Store***

1. MAPS' 20th Anniversary Gathering: Celebrating Progress and Planning for the Future

To commemorate our 20th anniversary, MAPS hosted a theme camp at Burning Man, Entheon Village, in association with artists Alex and Allyson Grey, Roberto Venosa, Martina Hoffmann, a community of Zen meditators from Switzerland, and an amazing team from Chicago that organized the infrastructure. The camp hosted a four-day lecture series -- featuring Sasha & Ann Shulgin, Marsha Rosenbaum, Ethan Nadelmann, Rob Kampia, Earth & Fire Erowid, John Gilmore, and many more -- drawing thousands of curious people to our dome for a myriad of drug policy- and psychedelic research and culture-related presentations. Entheon Village was home to 400 campers, making it the largest theme camp at this year's festival. In addition, we coordinated out of Entheon Village a team of volunteers who assisted the Burning Man Rangers in providing psychedelic emergency services at the Sanctuary dome (see item #2).

We chose Burning Man as the site of our 20th Anniversary gathering since it was a comprehensive example of MAPS in action, with lectures about our scientific research, a demonstration of our psychedelic harm reduction model at Sanctuary, the honoring of our psychedelic elders (Ann and Sasha Shulgin, who were our guests), and a community-building gathering.

We're deeply thankful to everyone at Entheon Village who donated their time, resources, and sweat to bring this remarkable celebration to fruition. Like everything else, we couldn't have done it alone. As MAPS navigates through a delicate and exhilarating transition, with once-distant goals now within tantalizing reach, this gathering was a refreshing reminder that our long-term mission is indeed social, as well as political, and must ultimately be community-based, not just research-based.

For those of you who attended Entheon Village, there is a discussion forum on Tribe.net posing the question What did ya'll think of Entheon Village?

2. Psychedelic Emergency Services at Burning Man and Portugal's Boom Festival

As part of MAPS' educational outreach and harm reduction mission, we coordinated psychedelic emergency services at Portugal's Boom Festival from August 3-9. As a result of MAPS' previous work at Burning Man, the festival organizers awarded MAPS $9600 for staff travel and other expenses, and provided 23 free tickets and a week's worth of food to our eight core team members and our 15 volunteers. We also helped coordinate harm reduction services such as pill testing and drug information distribution, for which the Boom organizers donated an additional six free tickets and food.

Then, from August 28 to September 4, MAPS assisted the Black Rock Rangers to provide psychedelic emergency services at Burning Man. MAPS staffer Valerie Mojeiko coordinated the training of over 30 volunteers for Sanctuary, assisted by about eight core staff with psychedelic psychotherapy experience. We cared for over 100 people going through difficult emotional and psychological experiences, some psychedelic-related, and some not.

The projects at Burning Man and Boom serve as a training program for MAPS' psychedelic therapists, a rare opportunity for researchers to spend time working alongside each other with people who are in a psychedelic-induced state. At Burning Man, researchers Michael Mithoefer, M.D. (US MDMA/PTSD study), Andrew Sewell, M.D. (Harvard LSD/psilocybin cluster headache study), and Rakefet Rodrigez, M.D. (Israel MDMA/PTSD study), worked alongside one another along with students, therapists, mental health professionals, MAPS staffers, and other trained volunteers. In at least three instances, the Sanctuary staff members were able to divert individuals away from being sent to prison or a mental hospital, a potentially traumatizing situation in and of itself.

One key limiting factor of this year's Sanctuary was its small size -- we were only able to comfortably house 6-8 visitors at a given time, many of whom required personal care from one or two volunteers for many hours. In addition, the Sanctuary space and the availability of the services provided are still not widely known by most Burning Man attendees. Next year, there is a good possibility that Sanctuary will be moving to a larger space, perhaps a new dome provided by the Rangers or the structure donated by Vanja Palmers that served as a meditation Zendo in Entheon Village this year. On September 2, The San Francisco Chronicle actually published an article about the Zendo structure.

3. Final Approval for MAPS-Sponsored Long-Term Ibogaine Observational Case Study

After years of work and a number of significant changes to the original protocol, on August 17 a MAPS-sponsored research team received "unconditional approval" from a Canadian Institutional Review Board (IRB) to proceed with a long-term observational case study that will examine changes in substance use in 20 consecutive people seeking ibogaine-based addiction treatment for opiate dependence at Iboga Therapy House in Vancouver. The Principal Investigator is MAPS President Rick Doblin, Ph.D., and he'll be aided by Dr. Ken Alper and MAPS Research Associate Ilsa Jerome, Ph.D. The Iboga Therapy House will now begin active recruitment of subjects.

4. MAPS-Sponsored Swiss MDMA/PTSD Study Recieves Final Approval for Addendum

Dr. Peter Oehen's MAPS-sponsored MDMA/PTSD study has full government approval and the first subject began the screening process last week. The Ethics Committee (the Swiss IRB equivalent, which previously approved Dr. Oehen's MDMA/PTSD protocol) met on September 7 to review an addendum to the protocol, and we just learned today, September 12, that the IRB has granted approval, meaning that the study can now officially be initiated!

The addendum is for an associated study by Dr. Franz Vollenweider, University of Zurich, that will examine subjects before and after treatment with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Dr. Vollenweider is going to measure several physiological factors that have been associated with PTSD (startle response, heart rate reactivity) as well as various EEG parameters to see if the MDMA-assisted psychotherapy results in any changes in these measures.

The first applicant for the study will be administered baseline CAPS and PDS tomorrow, and, now that we have full approval, we hope to report shortly that the first subject has been treated with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.

5. MDMA Arrives On-Site for Israeli MDMA/PTSD Study

The MAPS-sponsored Phase II pilot study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with treatment-resistant war- and terrorism-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Israel, under the direction of Moshe Kotler, M.D., former chief psychiatrist of the Israeli Defense Forces, has full government approval and will begin recruitment for subjects this fall. Last month, five grams of MDMA purchased by MAPS for the study cleared customs and arrived on-site at Beer Yakhov Mental Health Center near Tel Aviv, on a day when more than 230 missiles were fired by Hezbollah into Israel, causing a substantial amount of trauma. Co-therapist Rael Strous, M.D., has been setting up the necessary equipment at the research site, while co-therapist Rakefet Rodrigez, M.D., joined MAPS at Burning Man to receive training while working in Sanctuary.

6. MAPS-Sponsored Marijuana Production Facility Hanging in Balance, Awaiting Imminent Recommendation from DEA Judge

It has now been four months since lawyers representing MAPS and DEA filed final legal briefs in Prof. Lyle Craker's lawsuit against the DEA for refusing to license a proposed MAPS-sponsored marijuana production facility at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. MAPS and medical marijuana reform advocates nationwide are eagerly awaiting a recommendation from DEA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Mary Ellen Bittner, expected within the next two months.

In the meantime, we are focusing our attention on preparing to pressure the DEA to accept Judge Bittner's recommendation if she actually recommends that the DEA should issue a Schedule I license to Prof. Craker. Towards this end, MAPS is working with David Ostrow, M.D., who is funded by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), to lobby the American Medical Association (AMA) to pass a two-fold resolution at this November's annual meeting. The first part of the resolution says that privately-funded, FDA-approved research into marijuana's potential therapeutic uses should be encouraged, and that privately-funded production facilities that meet all regulatory requirements should be licensed by DEA to produce pharmaceutical-grade marijuana for use exclusively in FDA- and DEA-approved research. The second part of the resolution says that in states where patients are permitted to use medical marijuana for serious and/or chronic illnesses and the patient's physician has recommended its use in accordance with that state's medical practice standards, that patients should not be subject to federal criminal penalties for such appropriate medical use.

Prof. Craker's proposed facility would end the government's six decades-long monopoly on the production of marijuana for research purposes. This MAPS-funded facility would create the necessary independence of supply to justify the time and expense for MAPS to sponsor clinical research evaluating the risks and benefits of marijuana as a potential FDA-approved prescription medicine.

If we do receive a positive recommendation, we will need all MAPS supporters to contact their Congressional Representatives, so look out for an important announcement sometime in the next two months!

7. In the Media: The Chicago Sun-Times Reports on LSD/Psilocybin Cluster Headache Research

On August 16, Chicago Sun-Times Health Reporter Jim Ritter published "Pain Sufferer Turns to 'Shrooms'". The article describes the use of psilocybin as a treatment for cluster headaches and Dr. Andrew Sewell's research at Harvard/McLean Hospital investigating LSD and psilocybin as treatment for subjects with cluster headache, a rare and extremely painful condition. It also tells the story of Clusterbusters founder Bob Wold, one of several hundred reported cluster headache sufferers who have found unique and lasting relief by using LSD and/or psilocybin.

8. New at the MAPS Store: Grof's Ultimate Journey, 2007 Wall Calendar, and New Selection of Classic MAPS Shirts and Hoodies

We're pleased to announce several additions to the MAPS Online Store:

~Dr. Stanislav Grof's latest book, The Ultimate Journey: Consciousness and the Mystery of Death

Dr. Grof, author of LSD Psychotherapy and originator of Holotropic Breathwork, offers a wealth of perspectives on how we can enrich and transform the experience of dying in our culture. This 356 page book features 40 pages of images, 24 in color, and a foreword by Huston Smith. This book is especially pertinent considering that MAPS has been working on protocols for studies investigating MDMA- and LSD-assisted therapy as treatment for end-of-life anxiety.

~2007 MAPS wall calendar

A new array of dazzling psychedelic-inspired artwork from Roberto Venosa, Martina Hoffmann, Alex & Allyson Grey, Dean Chamberlain, and others, plus expanded notable dates in psychedelic and drug history. Grab a few and spread awareness of MAPS and great art! Or do yourself a favor and get a head-start on holiday gifting!

~New selection of high-quality classic MAPS shirts and hoodies

We've upgraded our t-shirt and hoodie offerings -- higher-quality, softer, thicker, more durable material. Plus, new sizes and colors -- bluestone and pine t-shirts, deep forest hoodies, and youth large sizes in addition to adult S-XXL. Support MAPS, spread awareness, and look good at the same time!

~Also, we're still selling signed and numbered limited edition Dean Chamberlain portraits of psychedelic pioneers Ram Dass, Ann & Sasha Shulgin, Laura Huxley, and Albert Hofmann. These portraits are a major fundraising tool for MAPS' research projects and a good investment.

9. Autumn 2006 MAPS Bulletin: Coming Soon

MAPS members, keep an eye out in about three weeks for the Autumn 2006 edition of the MAPS Bulletin. Also expect a special end-of-the-year issue in December.

Wishing You A Serendipitous September,

Jag Davies
MAPS Director of Communications

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