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October 21, 2011

MAPS 25th Anniversary Cartographie Psychedelica Tour

By: Mary Ought Six

High Times

A High Times writer describes her time attending MAPS 25th Anniversary Cartographie Psychedelica Tour in New York City. She was seated next to intrigued scholars for dinner and listened to some of the brightest minds speak about psychedelics and the future of psychedelic research.


Originally appearing here.

When I signed up to attend the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) 25th Anniversary Cartographie Psychedelica Tour NYC dinner and after party, I braced myself for a Hunter S. Thompsonesque reporting experience. I didn’t bring a camera, too losable, and made plans to stay in the city with a friend.
But it wasn’t that kind of party.
       
The benefit, with a starting donation price of $325, featured a who’s who of psychedelic research reformers and analysts, like Julie Holland, M.D., Neil Goldsmith, Ph.D., author Daniel Pinchbeck and a slew of well-educated and informed MAPS staff. Benefactors were paying to hear the latest, most informed information, straight from the academic sources.
       
Not to say that many of the attendees weren’t the type to be found recreationally taking acid, ‘shrooms or MDMA, but they were certainly a “time and a place” crowd, and this was a dinner where paying attention was why attendees had come.

We gathered around a long table in the upstairs part of the art gallery Oracle 113, which donated the space to MAPS for the second year in a row. The table was lain with “state plates” (I had Alabama) and while we noshed on carpaccio and bread before the courses started rolling, our hosts connected the dots for us regarding the plates – they were “state of mind” plates.
A main theme of the night was maturity. As MAPS is celebrating its 25th year of trying to reform the restrictive laws around potentially beneficial psychedelics, Rick Doblin, founder and driving force behind MAPS, told us stories of his climb from being .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Speakers spoke of the monumental changes and breakthroughs MAPS has acquired over the years.
“They’re the only game in town,” said Goldsmith during dinner, speaking to MAPS’s focus on policy changes worldwide and their blatant adherence to transparency. Changing the laws in regards to psychedelic use has just as many, if not more, hurdles as does marijuana policy. And marijuana is one of the psychedelics MAPS is trying to research.

Doblin added, “Since conception we’ve been silenced and squelched, so it’s nice to have a voice where research has historically been restricted.”
Though it’s been a rough road, MAPS has made major strides over the years, managing to work with the FDA on proposal wordings and sticky necessities like therapists being able to legally ingest MDMA before treating patients with it in a therapeutic setting. NIDA still currently stands in the way, but MAPS was also approved by the FDA to conduct research on the efficacy of marijuana as a treatment for PTSD.
The MAPS benefit rode the coattails of the Horizons Perspectives on Psychedelics conference, now in its fifth year. MAPS is a Horizons partner, and the daytime Saturday panels and lectures inspired Steve Fox, director of government relations at Marijuana Policy Project, to write an op-ed for the Sunday Washington Post on marijuana’s value against PTSD, especially with our veterans committing suicide by the thousand – monthly.
With pharmaceutical drugs for PTSD garnering few favorable results, marijuana is, finally, no longer the wild card. “After fifteen years of anecdotal research here and results abroad, the VA told us they were glad this was happening,” said a beaming Rick Doblin, excited to see their hard work finally moving forward.
Once Holland, Goldsmith, Doblin and the various crusaders of the other dimensions said their pieces, Doblin opened the dining room floor to the benefactors, asking them to share about the most important lessons they’d learned personally from psychedelics. I was seated at the end of the table with a slew of degree stacking scholars, and the whispered comment, “Great, let’s start the campfire,” was the cue for most of the heavies to start their discreet goodbyes. I put away the last of my tiramisu and went downstairs for the after party.
Though the dinner and party were both mellow, respectful examinations of the state of psychedelic studies, as the fabulous DJ Erothyme rocked us into an ambient mood, there were certainly psychonauts to be spotted.


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