Mary’s Prime Time Blog recently asked contributor Sarah M. Cohen to attend the annual meeting of Students for Sensible Drug Policy in Chicago. The next few blogs will contain Sarah’s reports from that meeting. — Alice O’Leary Randall, editor.
Written by Sarah M. Cohen
That’s right, you read correctly, MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine). Also known as the club drug or Molly, MDMA is being assessed for its ability to reduce (and perhaps eliminate) psychological and emotional symptoms of violent crime, sexual assault, and war, with particular emphasis on treatment-resistant Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are currently fourteen sites in the US, Israel and Canada where MDMA-assisted psychotherapy is in Phase 3 clinical trials. This is a big deal and a major milestone for Dr. Rick Doblin, the founder and executive director of the study’s sponsor: MAPS – the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
Founded in 1986 MAPS is a “non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana.” It has had tremendous success in securing funding from both conservative and liberal donors, perhaps because PTSD effects 11-17% of U.S. military veterans as well as many other victims of assault, rape and other forms of violence.
The MDMA protocol currently being evaluated consists of three sessions of MDMA (or placebo) administration with concurrent psychotherapy over the course of twelve weeks. Additional introductory and integration sessions are also part of the protocol. Participant recruitment and screening began in November 2018. Check out the MAPS website for study updates: https://maps.org/
And, with respect to cannabis research, MAPS has been at this a long while too. It first petitioned the DEA for access to quality, controlled medical cannabis in 1999! In 2016, the DEA finally relented, allowing researchers access to cannabis cultivated at locations other than NIDA’s grow in Mississippi. The fruits of MAPS’ unwavering persistence will be clear this year when the results of their study of smoked whole plant cannabis for treatment of PTSD symptoms in U.S. veterans will be published.
Thank you, Dr. Doblin – living proof that Robin Williams was right when he said, “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” ❖
Want to read more about the SSDP conference? Check out Beyond Legalization: Searching SSDPConference Takes On Exclusion by Alexander Lekhtman at FliterMag.org