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Media > Newsletter: November 10, 2006



MAPS Members, Supporters, and Friends,

On Election Day, Nevada's bold marijuana regulation ballot initiative lost again, although by a closer margin than previously, 44-56%. Colorado's initiative to allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana lost more heavily, 60-40%. And, in the first defeat for a state medical marijuana ballot initiative, South Dakota's fell just short at 48-52%.

These defeats show that substantial public education is still needed before the American public is ready for major drug policy reform. Since MAPS' agenda is more modest and has more limited goals than these ballot initiatives, our research into potential medical applications is a strategically viable approach for educating the public accurately about the risks and benefits of psychedelics and marijuana when used in various patient populations, as well as for working toward creating legal contexts for their beneficial uses.

Here's the news from MAPS for November:

1. Online Auction for Alex Grey's "Hofmann" Portrait Nov. 12-19
2. MAPS-Sponsored Swiss MDMA/PTSD Study Initiated
3. MAPS Team Visits Israel to Prepare MDMA/PTSD Study
4. US MDMA/PTSD Study Makes Progress
5. MDMA Arrives at Harvard/McLean Hospital for End-of-Life Anxiety Study
6. Prof. Craker Still Awaiting Judge's Recommendation in DEA Lawsuit for MAPS-Sponsored Marijuana Production Facility
7. Pilot for MAPS' Educational Video, "Working with Difficult Psychedelic Experiences," Now Available to View Online
8. MAPS Staff Presents at National Harm Reduction Conference in Oakland
9. Post-Entheon Village Fundraiser Dec. 9 in Chicago
10. New and Departing MAPS Office Staff

***MAPS needs your generosity to empower staff, scientists, and volunteers to carry out pioneering research and educational projects. To donate, learn about the benefits of MAPS membership, or purchase MAPS books and merchandise, visit the MAPS Online Store***

1. Online Auction for Alex Grey's "Hofmann" Portrait Nov. 12-19

Now that 49 out of 50 of Alex Grey's limited edition signed portraits of Albert Hofmann have been sold, MAPS and the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (COSM) will hold an Ebay auction from Nov. 12 -19 to sell the last remaining print, numbered 1/50. Profits from the sales of the portraits will be divided between COSM and MAPS, with MAPS' funds restricted for MAPS-sponsored LSD/psilocybin research and for promoting Albert's writings. MAPS and COSM have already raised over $42,000 each from sales of these portraits.

We're also delighted to announce a new signed and limited edition series of Roberto Venosa's portrait of Albert Hofmann, now available from MAPS. Twenty-six out of 50 have already been sold, and prices range between $1000-$3000, depending on the print's number. Customers may select any available numbered print from the tier of their choice (#'s 1-10: $3000 / #'s 11-20: $2500 / #'s 21-30: $2000 / #'s 31-40: $1500 / 41-50: $1000[sold out]). Portraits will take 1-3 weeks to arrive following payment.

And, to raise funds for research, 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.

2. MAPS-Sponsored Swiss MDMA/PTSD Study Initiated

Principal Investigator Peter Oehen, M.D., has now officially initiated his MAPS- and Swiss Medical Association for Psycholytic Therapy (SAePT)-sponsored pilot study evaluating MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment-resistant Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). On October 19, Dr. Oehen conducted the first experimental MDMA-assisted psychotherapy session. Dr. Oehen reported that "the psychotherapeutic process received a strong thrust forward during this initial session," and that both doses of MDMA were well-tolerated with no significant elevations of blood pressure, and no adverse effects.

Several days ago, MAPS made its first donation of $20,000 to the project, with another $105,000 pledged to complete the study. In addition, MAPS' clinical research monitoring team will be working closely on the study to ensure it meets pharmaceutical company standards, at MAPS' expense.

3. MAPS Team Visits Israel to Prepare MDMA/PTSD Study

Dr. Moshe Kotler's MAPS-sponsored MDMA/PTSD study at Israel's Beer Yakhov Mental Health Center has full government approval and is expected to be initiated in early 2007.

Last month, MAPS' clinical research monitoring team visited Israel to perform the initial study initiation visit. This included meeting several times with the principal investigator, co-therapists, study assistants, independent assessor, pharmacist, and others to work over logistical hurdles, regulations for the study, and requirements for reporting data.

During the visit, MAPS donated $25,000 to the project, with another $50,000 pledged to complete the study. In addition, MAPS' clinical research monitoring team will monitor the study to pharmaceutical company standards, at MAPS' expense.

While in Israel, MAPS President Rick Doblin, Ph.D., also presented at a joint Palestinian-Israeli conference on drug policy and the legal regulation of medical marijuana in Israel, coordinated by Israel's progressive Green-Leaf political party. To top off this busy week, Rick and MAPS Director of Operations Valerie Mojeiko conducted the first Israeli Safe-Rave training program about harm-reduction techniques for people using psychedelics in non-therapeutic contexts such as parties and festivals.

4. US MDMA/PTSD Study Makes Progress, New IRB Requests

Dr. Michael Mithoefer's flagship MAPS-sponsored, FDA-approved Phase 2 MDMA/PTSD study has now enrolled 17 out of 20 subjects. On October 19, MAPS and Dr. Mithoefer submitted a request to the study's Institutional Review Board (IRB) to conduct long-term follow-up research on subjects who complete the existing protocol. Presently, the final measure of PTSD symptoms takes place two months after the last MDMA-assisted therapy session. Under the new proposal, the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) would be administered one year (or longer for subjects who have already completed the study) after the last MDMA-assisted psychotherapy session.

Concurrent with this request to do long term follow-up, we are also requesting a modification and clarification of the media policy for this study. To comply with the requirements of the IRB, subjects who have completed the study and who have voluntarily offered to speak in public about their experiences are currently unable to speak to the media until the entire study has been completed. This proposed modification would allow subjects to speak with the media following completion of their own active participation in the study, rather than waiting until the entire study and its long term follow-up measures have been completed.

5. MDMA Arrives for End-of-Life Anxiety Study

On October 23, the actual MDMA arrived on-site for Dr. John Halpern's MAPS-initiated study evaluating MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for subjects with end-of-life anxiety secondary to advanced-stage cancer. MAPS has withdrawn from direct sponsorship of this study, but will still have access to the data generated by Dr. Halpern, as will any other organization that requests it.

6. Prof. Craker Still Awaiting Judge's Recommendation in DEA Lawsuit for MAPS-Sponsored Marijuana Production Facility

After years of legal struggle, any day now DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner will issue a recommendation in Prof. Lyle Craker's lawsuit against the DEA for obstructing his proposed MAPS-sponsored independent medical marijuana production facility at UMass-Amherst. When lawyers representing Lyle Craker, Ph.D., and the DEA submitted final legal briefs on May 8 after a nine-month hearing, we anticipated a recommendation from DEA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Mary Ellen Bittner in three to six months. As of Wednesday, November 8, it had been six months. Prof. Craker's MAPS-sponsored medical marijuana production facility, and, more importantly, the ability to conduct FDA-approved clinical trials investigating marijuana's potential as a federally-approved prescription medicine, hang in the balance.

Since the DEA ALJ's recommendation is not binding, we have been preparing to pressure the DEA to accept the Judge's recommendation if it is positive. We already have support from numerous state medical associations, nurses' associations, public health organizations, Massachusetts Senators Kerry and Kennedy, and 38 Congressional Representatives. We have also been working to identify a state medical association willing to propose a resolution at the next American Medical Association (AMA) meeting. Although the California and Texas state medical associations, the nation's largest, have each sent letters to the DEA in support of Prof. Craker's facility, both declined to formally propose the resolution that we had hoped would be passed by the AMA.

If DEA ALJ Bittner makes a favorable recommendation, it will be an extraordinarily unique window of opportunity to break NIDA's marijuana monopoly and take the first steps toward developing marijuana into a federally-approved medicine. If we do receive a positive recommendation, we will need all supporters to contact their Congressional Representatives, so look out for an important announcement soon!

7. MAPS' Educational Video "Working with Difficult Psychedelic Experiences" Now Available to View Online

As part of MAPS' educational mission, we have been gradually working over the past year to develop an educational video that explains the principles of psychedelic emergency harm reduction services. Narrated by psychiatrist Donna Dryer, M.D., "Working with Difficult Psychedelic Experiences" is a 20-minute pilot that teaches some basic methods about how peers can help transform difficult psychedelic experiences into opportunities for growth, self-knowledge, and healing. It elaborates on the four basic principles of psychedelic harm reduction:

1) Create a safe space
2) Sitting, not guiding
3) Talk through, don't talk down
4) "Difficult" is not necessarily "bad"

The content of the video airs on the cautious side, because it was originally commissioned for the curriculum of a church-based harm reduction drug education program for teenagers. While this version is aimed at young adults, however, it is also intended to be useful for people of all ages and backgrounds. As an actor, writer, and director for this project, I'm anxious to hear feedback -- let me know what you think!

On that note, MAPS member John Buchanan recently contributed $2,500 to MAPS for a new, updated version of the video that will be produced in 2007. Thank you, John!

8. MAPS Staff Presenting at National Harm Reduction Conference in Oakland

The 6th National Harm Reduction Conference is currently taking place in downtown Oakland. Yesterday, I gave a presentation entitled, "The Political Obstruction of Marijuana Vaporization and Medical Marijuana Research" as part of the conference's panel on medical marijuana. On Sunday, Nov. 12, at 10:45 am, myself and MAPS Director of Operations Valerie Mojeiko will lead a panel on "Psychedelic Harm Reduction: Coordinating Services, Techniques, and Education."

9. Post-Entheon Village Fundraiser Dec. 9 in Chicago

On Dec. 9, the group of volunteers from Chicago who organized MAPS' 20th anniversary celebration at Burning Man's Entheon Village theme camp will be hosting ENTHEON: ABUNDANCE, an all-night fundraiser party in Chicago to recoup some of their (and MAPS) financial losses.

10. New and Departing MAPS Office Staff

The MAPS administrative staff has undergone a transition over the past month. Julia Onnie-Hay, MAPS' former Membership and Sales Manager and Director of Educational Outreach, has moved on from MAPS to pursue her interests in permaculture, social work, and shamanic healing. While we will miss Julia's presence in the office, we are also excited to the point of giddiness to have on board Josh Sonstroem, MAPS' new (and first-ever) Technology Specialist, Events Coordinator, and Clinical Research Assistant. Also joining the MAPS team is John Bitter, our new Membership and Sales Assistant.

To top it off, we expect to announce the hiring of a part-time Director of Development in January, who will be responsible for helping capitalize on MAPS' successes by expanding our fundraising capacity. We are also exploring options for hiring a part-time marketing consultant next year, who would advise us on product sales, public relations and membership growth.

Wishing You a Non-Nebulous November,
Jag Davies, MAPS Director of Communications






























































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