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Media > Newsletter: November 30, 2005



November 30, 2005

Greetings MAPS Members and Friends!
Do you share our vision of a world where we have legal access to psychedelics and marijuana for healing and for personal and spiritual growth? If so, please take a minute and donate now! Whether it is $5 or $500,000, we can use your support! Donate here!

1. Still Time to Help MAPS Medical Marijuana Production Facility--Call Your Representative Today!
2. MAPS Obtains Support for UMass Amherst Marijuana Production Facility from Republican strategist Grover Norquist!
3. Second Round of Hearings Scheduled in Prof. Crakers Lawsuit Against DEA
4. Second MAPS Auction Underway
5. MDMA Research Making Progress Worldwide
6. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Grant Application Rejected
7. Ayahuasca Case Heard in the Supreme Court
8. The Good Drugs Guide Radio Show Features Rick Doblin and Others
9. The Oracle Goes Digital
10. MAPS 2006 Calendars Still Available
11. New Bulletin Has Been Shipped
12. New Edition of LSD: My Problem Child Available in Two Weeks
13. Signed Portraits of Ann and Sasha Shulgin Available Now

1. Still Time to Help MAPS Medical Marijuana Production Facility--Call Your Representative Today!

We have now obtained 34 Congressional co-signers to Congressman John Olver's letter to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy. The deadline for obtaining more signatures on the Congressional sign-on letter is 5PM on Monday, December 5. The letter urges DEA to grant a license to Prof. Lyle Craker, Ph.D., UMass Amherst, for a MAPS-sponsored marijuana production facility, and to end the federal monopoly on the supply of marijuana that can be used in research. However, many Representatives are sitting on the fence and waiting to hear from constituents before deciding whether to sign the letter. Urge your local representative to sign-on! We need your help in the form of phone calls, letters or even emails to your Representative.

Go here to retrieve the phone number of the Washington, DC office of your member of the House of Representatives. Please call their office and say that you are calling about Rep. Olver's Dear Colleague letter. Indicate that you are calling to urge your Rep. to sign on to the letter to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy expressing support for DEA licensing of Prof. Lyle Craker's UMass Amherst facility to produce marijuana exclusively for federally-approved research. Then follow-up with a letter or send an email. We have also created this background page to inform you on the subject.

2. MAPS Obtains Support for UMass Amherst Marijuana Production Facility from Republican strategist Grover Norquist!

On November 22, 2005, Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Relief, wrote a letter to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy urging DEA to grant a license to Prof. Lyle Craker. The letter ended by stating, "It's in the public interest to end the government monopoly on marijuana legal for research." Grover Norquist's letter demonstrates that we are beginning to obtain bipartisan support for ending the political suppression of medical marijuana research.

3. Second Round of Hearings Scheduled in Prof. Craker's Lawsuit Against DEA

On December 12, the second round of hearings begins in Prof. Craker's lawsuit against DEA over the medical marijuana production facility at UMass Amherst, being heard before DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner. Dr. Craker's facility is a prerequisite to beginning MAPS-sponsored clinical trials into the risks and benefits of marijuana as a potential FDA-approved prescription medicine. Until we have access to an adequate and uninterrupted supply of high-grade marijuana of a strain of our own choosing, it doesn't make sense to launch an expensive drug development research effort. After the Supreme Court's ruling in Raich v. Ashcroft (view our amicus curiae brief in that case) against states' rights and medical marijuana last June 2005, it is now more important than ever that the DEA allow privately-funded FDA-approved research to evaluate and hopefully establish the medicinal value of this versatile drug.

4. Second MAPS Auction Underway

Looking for a special holiday gift? There's still time to bid on that week in Hawaii; a psychedelic book collection; Dr. Bronner's products; dinners with MAPS staff; or with Rick Doblin and family; or with TV star Larry Hagman, Maj Hagman and Rick Doblin; or something else in the MAPS auction. It ends on Tuesday December 6 at 9pm EST.

5. MDMA Research Making Progress Worldwide

The Israeli Ministry of Health, after seven years of struggle and three MAPS-sponsored international scientific conferences on MDMA that took place in Israel, has finally approved the MAPS-sponsored Israeli MDMA/PTSD pilot study to be directed by Dr. Moshe Kotler, Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University and former chief psychiatrist of the Israeli Defense Forces. The one condition was that the Israeli Anti-Drug Authority express its support for the study in writing, which it has done! We are now planning monitoring visits from MAPS' monitoring team to take place in early 2006, and also a visit for the Israeli therapists to come to Charleston, SC to observe Dr. Michael and Ann Mithoefer conduct an MDMA/PTSD session.

In Switzerland, the final ethics committee meeting is scheduled on December 5 to review the MAPS-sponsored MDMA/PTSD study to be conducted by Dr. Peter Oehen, and co-sponsored by the Swiss Association for Psycholytic Therapy. We expect the ethics committee will formally approve our responses to the last few questions which we've been told informally have been acceptable.

In the US, we've heard from senior DEA officials that Dr. John Halpern's MDMA/Cancer Anxiety study at Harvard's McLean Hospital will definitely receive final DEA approval, probably before the end of 2005. While we won't celebrate until the DEA approval is in hand, it now seems like we will be able to start this study since FDA and IRB approvals were obtained back in 2004.

The 11th subject out of 20 in Dr. Michael Mithoefer's MDMA/PTSD study in Charleston, South Carolina, has had her second experimental session. The 10th subject will have her final follow-up visit the week of January 16th, at which point the study will be at the exact half-way point. We will then schedule a meeting of the Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) to review the data. We'll be able to conduct a preliminary data analysis prior to the DSMB meeting.

Now that we have final approval in Israel for an MDMA/PTSD pilot study, ethics committee approval in Switzerland with Swissmedic approval likely, DEA licensure for the MDMA cancer anxiety study at Harvard coming soon, and the US MDMA/PTSD study getting great results, the foundations have been built, and are solid, for our international drug development effort for the therapeutic use of MDMA. We now need to raise $500,000 for research that will take place over the next year and a half. Then we'll be in a position to determine whether it makes sense to raise and spend $4 million on the two large-scale Phase III studies (one in the US and one throughout Europe and Israel) that will be required by FDA and the European Medicines Agency to prove safety and efficacy, before prescription use could be approved.

6. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Grant Application Rejected

On November 8, 2005 Dr. Michael Mithoefer received the disappointing news that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has rejected our grant application seeking $125,000 over two years for the development of a treatment manual for the use of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). MAPS' grant application was not scored (it was considered in the bottom half of all applications). This rejection isn't really surprising since it was over 30 years ago that NIMH gave a grant for anything to do with psychedelic psychotherapy, with all NIMH intramural psychedelic psychotherapy research stopped in 1967. MAPS invested $2,768 in the NIMH grant application, but the money is not wasted. We have gained a better understanding of what it will take to complete the treatment manual that we have already begun to develop and we now can say that we have indeed tried to obtain funding from NIMH. Maybe once we complete the initial pilot study, we can submit the results to NIMH and try again to obtain support. It has been reported that in 2004, the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) spent $4.3 billion on PTSD disability payments! In 2006, the VA requested $2.2 billion for mental health services. Once we have completed our initial pilot study, we may have a better chance of obtaining some federal funding for MDMA/PTSD research.

7. Ayahuasca Case Heard in the Supreme Court

On November 1, The Supreme Court heard a case pitting the federal government against a Brazilian Ayahuasca Church based in New Mexico, the Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal (UDV). The New York Times and others covered the story.

The federal government banned the UDV from using ayahuasca, also known as hoasca, because the DMT-containing substance, taken in the form of a brewed tea, is illegal under federal drug laws. In 1999, U.S. Customs officials seized a shipment of ayahuasca and subsequently raided a church member's home. UDV eventually sued and last year the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's finding: the federal government did not prove that the drug posed a significant danger to its congregants or that use of ayahuasca would lead to non-religious use or abuse. The Drug Enforcement Administration was forced to register UDV as a legal importer and distributor of ayahuasca. The Bush Administration, however, appealed the case to the Supreme Court. Pending the Supreme Court's decision in this case, UDV members are allowed to import and to use ayahuasca for sacramental purposes. The Supreme Court has not yet issued its ruling and will probably not do so for several months. However, some sophisticated observers of the oral arguments have said that it is a possibility, but not a certainty, that either the UDV will win the case or the Court will not rule but send the case back to a lower court for further litigation, while enabling the UDV to keep using ayahuasca while the lower court's case goes forward. Time will tell.

8. The Good Drugs Guide Radio Show Features Rick Doblin and Others

On November 11, The Good Drugs Guide Radio Show, out of England, broadcast a show entitled, "The State of Ecstasy" which featured guests Dr. Julie Holland, author of Ecstasy: The Complete Guide, MAPS President Rick Doblin, and Mike Linnell of the drug charity Lifeline. The show also uses clips from the excellent Peter Jennings ABC documentary, Ecstasy Rising. (Ecstasy Rising is available for purchase through MAPS by writing to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or calling the MAPS office). The Good Drugs Guide Radio Show is described as follows, "It's ten years since the death of Leah Betts, a teenager who died after taking a single tablet of ecstasy, also known as MDMA. Her tragic death triggered a huge backlash against the drug here in the UK. Even so, 700,000 people still take E every week in this country. So what have we learnt about ecstasy in the last decade? Do the stories of terrible comedowns, brains like swiss cheese, and instant death have any credibility? Could MDMA really become a prescription drug? And has the music got any better. We find out."

Some feedback on the show from one of our members:
They didn't make too many opinions or comments, mainly reported facts and told stories and played audio clips, with music narrating the whole show. It would be beneficial for the younger generations of drug users to hear (definitely accessible to that demographic) and something useful to play for people who don't know all the facts about MDMA and related risks, or those whose views have been skewed by propaganda. -NK

9. The Oracle Goes Digital

The San Francisco Oracle, legendary psychedelic underground newspaper originally published in the Haight Ashbury during the Summer of Love, is now available in digital format. One of the most unique and beautiful publications of the '60s, it is remembered for its extraordinary graphic design by major San Francisco artists, its rainbow colors, and the cultural explorations and breakthroughs in its articles, interviews and poetry. This CDROM contains each and every page of all 12 issues printed in all their original brilliance which can be viewed on your computer and can be printed on your desktop printer. In addition, on a DVD, is a half hour interview with Allen Cohen, the original editor and founder of The Oracle, as well as the video Oracle Rising by Claire Burch, about the Haight Ashbury and the creation of The Oracle newspaper. Get yours today!

10. MAPS 2006 Calendars Still Available

Featuring artwork from leading and newly discovered psychedelic artists, this calendar will psychedelic-ize your home throughout the year. Only $15, get yours today!

11. New MAPS Bulletin Has Been Shipped

The new MAPS Bulletin was shipped last week and will be arriving in mailboxes soon. Hope you enjoy it!

12. New Edition of LSD: My Problem Child Available in Two Weeks

Check back to the MAPS bookstore in mid-December to purchase your copy of LSD: My Problem Child, by Albert Hofmann. This edition of the classic psychedelic text, which has been out of print in English for many years, includes a new foreword by LSD psychotherapy pioneer Dr. Stanislav Grof, as well as a new index, a new preface from the author, and 16 pages of photos, many of which are in color. We are also having the text, originally written in German, translated to Chinese. The Chinese translation will be posted online, and should be finished in January 2006. We already have obtained a Russian translation . We hope to have both the re-release of the English version and the Chinese translation finished by the time we go to Switzerland in January for the LSD Symposium and Albert Hofmann's 100th Birthday.

13. Signed Portraits of Ann and Sasha Shulgin Available Now

Ann and Sasha Shulgin have just now signed 50 copies of the portrait of themselves made by light artist Dean Chamberlain.

This is the third in the series of psychedelic pioneers signing portraits of themselves taken by Dean Chamberlain, following those of Albert Hofmann and Laura Huxley. Half the profits from the sale of the portraits of Ann and Sasha Shulgin will be donated to MAPS, to be used on MDMA research projects which are aimed at developing MDMA into an FDA-approved prescription medicine. The first 10 are $1000, the next 30 are $1500 and the final 10 are $2000. These would make excellent holiday gifts and are also good investments.

That concludes this month's email update. Happy winter holidays!

-Valerie Mojeiko
MAPS































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