Talk:Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

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Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
Founded 1986
Type 501(c)(3) Non-Profit
Focus Pharmaceutical Research, Education
  • Santa Cruz, California (International)
Area served
Key people
Rick Doblin
(Executive Director and Founder)

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a membership-based 501(c)(3) non-profit[1] research and educational organization working to develop medical, legal, and cultural contexts for the responsible use of psychedelic substances and cannabis.

MAPS was founded in 1986 by Rick Doblin and is currently based in Santa Cruz, California.[2]


According to their mission statement, MAPS ultimately envisions a "world where psychedelics and marijuana are safely and legally available for beneficial uses, and where research is governed by rigorous scientific evaluation of their risks and benefits."[8]. Additionally, MAPS’ harm-reduction efforts are intentionally and carefully designed to avoid backlash and "build a post-prohibition world by assisting non-medical users to transform difficult psychedelic experiences into opportunities for growth."[9]

In the psychedelic and psychonautic communities, MAPS is widely regarded with great affection and respect due to its enduring commitment to integrity, honesty, transparency and willingness to take informed, evidence-backed risks to create radical new paradigms for the alleviation of human suffering through the judicious exploration of human consciousness.

Activities and Initiatives

MAPS helps researchers across the world design, fund, and obtain regulatory approval for studies of the safety and effectiveness of a number of currently controlled psychoactive substances, right now with a particular focus on the legalization and approval of MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) as a prescription medicine for psychedelic psychotherapy.[3] MAPS works closely with government regulatory authorities across the world including the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) to ensure that all of its sponsored research protocols conform to ethical and procedural guidelines for clinical drug research, spearheading the re-introduction of psychedelics and cannabis into mainstream society after 50+ years of prohibition.

Included in MAPS’ research efforts are MDMA for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); LSD and psilocybin for the treatment of anxiety, cluster headaches, and depression associated with end-of-life issues; ibogaine for the treatment of opiate addiction, ayahuasca for the treatment of drug addiction and PTSD; medical cannabis for PTSD; and alternative delivery systems for medical cannabis such as vaporizers and water pipes.[4] It also recognizes, if not directly sponsors, scientific research into psychedelics such as ketamine for treating addiction, LSA for cluster headaches and general psychopharmacological research into compounds like MDE, DMT, and Salvinorin A.[5] MAPS officials say the organization's ultimate goal is to establish a network of clinics where these and other treatments can be provided together with other therapies under the guidance of trained, licensed physicians and therapists.[6]

In addition to sponsoring scientific research, MAPS organizes continuing medical education (CME) conferences, the most prominent of which is the "Psychedelic Science" conference which they host around April every year. Additionally, MAPS sponsors and presents lectures and seminars on the state of psychedelic and medical marijuana research, provides psychedelic harm reduction services through the Zendo Project at events such as music festivals and Burning Man, and publishes a triannual magazine-style publication, the MAPS Bulletin, with updates about its ongoing research efforts, legal struggles, and educational initiatives. MAPS also publishes books dealing with the science, history, and culture of psychedelic research and psychedelic therapy.[7]


Psychedelic therapy

Psychedelic therapy refers to therapeutic practices involving the use of psychedelic substances, particularly "classical" serotonergic psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybe mushrooms, DMT, MDMA, mescaline, and 2C-B, primarily as an adjunct or aid in psychotherapy. As an alternative to synonyms such as "hallucinogen", "entheogen", "psychotomimetic" and other functionally constructed names, the use of the term psychedelic (coined in the 50s from "mind-manifesting"[8]) emphasizes that those who use these substances as part of a therapeutic practice believe they can facilitate beneficial or therapeutic exploration of the human mind.

In contrast to conventional psychiatric medication which is taken by the patient regularly or on an as-needed basis, in psychedelic therapy patients remain in an extended psychotherapy session during the acute activity of the substance and spend the night at the facility. In the sessions with the substance, therapists are nondirective and support the patient in exploring their inner experience. Patients participate in psychotherapy before the substance psychotherapy sessions to prepare them and after the substance, psychotherapy to help them integrate their experiences with the drug.[9]

Throughout the 1980s, MDMA was administered in psychiatric and counseling settings, but recreational use also became increasingly widespread. MDMA research was mostly halted in 1985 by the United States government's initiation of proceedings to ensure temporary classification of the compound as a Schedule I drug (a classification made permanent in 1988). As psychedelics gained increasing recognition as potential psychotherapeutic agents, so too were they recognized within popular culture for their recreational use.[citation needed]

Founding MAPS

Anticipating that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would move to criminalize MDMA in light of the drug's increasing popularity in recreational use, Rick Doblin, Alise Agar, and Debby Harlow organized a non-profit group called Earth Metabolic Design Laboratories (EMDL) to advocate for the potential therapeutic use of MDMA. By 1984 the DEA had announced its intention to designate MDMA as a Schedule I substance, a categorization that would substantially restrict and regulate the drug's availability, as well as indicate that it held no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential.[10]

EMDL organized supporters to petition the DEA for a scheduling hearing regarding MDMA. Dr. George Greer, Lester Grinspoon, Professor James Bakalar, and Professor Thomas Roberts contributed to the argument that MDMA belonged in Schedule III, a category that would more readily enable future research and permit the continuation of its use in psychotherapy. Despite such efforts, the DEA pursued emergency scheduling in 1985, citing an imminent risk to public health.[citation needed]

As MDMA was now deemed illegal, held in the same category as such substances like heroin, the only way for it to be employed in the scientific inquiry would be through the lengthy and expensive FDA approval process. Holding the belief that MDMA had the unique potential both to aid psychotherapy and eventually to become a prescription medicine, Rick Doblin sought to gain incorporation for MAPS as a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization. The founding of MAPS was a first step toward the future envisioning of what Doblin has called a "non-profit psychedelic-pharmaceutical company."[11] Chartered in 1986, MAPS has since contributed over 12 million dollars towards the scientific study of psychedelics and marijuana in therapeutic applications.[12][13]


Since 1986, MAPS has distributed over $20 million to fund psychedelic and medical marijuana research and education. These include: -Add MDMA/PTSD research program

  • Erowid and MAPS have been collaborating on two large reference database projects since 2001. Erowid has been providing expertise and work developing and coordinating construction of an online MDMA reference library and MAPS begun working on doing a similar project with the Albert Hofmann Foundation's LSD and Psilocybin Library.[14]
  • Designed a study to examine vaporized or smoked marijuana in the treatment of war-related PTSD in veterans, which will evaluate efficacy and safety of multiple strains of herbal marijuana. The study has received FDA approval. MAPS is pursuing the purchase of appropriate strains from the US federal government.[15]
  • Sponsored efforts by Prof. Lyle Craker, Medicinal Plant Program, UMass Amherst Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, to obtain a license from the Drug Enforcement Administration for a marijuana production facility.[16][17]
  • Sponsored analytical research into the effects of the marijuana vaporizer, leading to the first human study of marijuana vaporizers conducted by Dr. Donald Abrams of the University of California, San Francisco.[18]
  • Funded the successful efforts of Dr. Donald Abrams to obtain approval for the first human study in 15 years into the therapeutic use of marijuana, along with a $1 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.[15]
  • Obtained Orphan Drug designation from the FDA for smoked marijuana in the treatment of AIDS Wasting Syndrome.[15]
  • Supported long-term follow-up studies of pioneering research with LSD and psilocybin originally conducted in the 1950s and 1960s.[19]
  • Sponsoring research by Dr. Evgeny Krupitsky into ketamine-assisted psychotherapy as a potential treatment for heroin addiction and alcoholism.[20]
  • Sponsoring programs and services at festivals, community events, churches, and schools that provide psychedelic harm reduction and education.[21]
  • A clinical study evaluating the treatment of cluster headaches using low doses of the tryptamine psilocybin (found in psilocybin mushrooms) is being developed by researchers at Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital in conjunction with MAPS.[19]
  • Performed several small clinical studies described below, and in some cases, published the results in scientific journals.


Board and staff

MAPS is governed by a board of directors including John Gilmore, Robert J. Barnhart, and Rick Doblin. Ashawna Hailey served on the board until her death in 2011. A complete listing of current MAPS and MAPS Public Benefit Corporation (MPBC) staff is available online.[22]


MAPS is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) research and educational organization, funded by donations from individuals and foundations.[23] Donations to MAPS can be restricted to fund a specific project, or be unrestricted.[24] MAPS also receives revenue from conferences and events, such as the Psychedelic Science conference, as well as from the sale of books, merchandise, and art.[25] With a policy of transparency in financial matters, MAPS publishes a detailed annual financial report.[26]


MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD

MAPS has a primary focus in researching the effectiveness of using 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) to assist psychotherapy in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). MAPS is the only organization in the world funding clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, as it is of little interest to commercial pharmaceutical companies[citation needed]. Ultimately, MAPS seeks to achieve FDA approval for the use of MDMA as a prescription medicine.[27]

MAPS completed a US Pilot Study in September 2008 that investigated the effectiveness of MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which took place in Charleston, South Carolina.[27] The study sought to determine whether MDMA-assisted psychotherapy would be effective in reducing the symptoms of PTSD in 20 subjects identified with treatment-resistant PTSD resulting from sexual abuse, war, violent crime, and other traumas.[28]

MAPS is conducting a phase 2 pilot study to assess the effectiveness of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of PTSD among veterans of war. The study is taking place in Charleston, SC and is conducting experimental treatment with 16 veterans, both male and female, suffering war-related PTSD. The study will follow a randomized, triple-blind protocol and test three different experimental doses.

MAPS has developed a training protocol that will allow therapists to take part as subjects in a Phase 1 study on the psychological effects of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in healthy volunteers. MAPS would thus administer one MDMA-assisted psychotherapy session to the therapists to offer them training as well as evaluate the effects of MDMA. The study has received approval to proceed by both the US FDA and the IRB. Mithoefer, the primary clinical investigator in this study, has received his Schedule 1 license from the DEA, enabling him to administer MDMA within this study.[27]

LSD and psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for end-of-life anxiety

It is well evidenced that psychoactive mushrooms and a number of other plants containing psychoactive compounds have been valued for millennia by many indigenous tribes across the globe for their spiritual & therapeutic uses.[29]

An explosion of recreational use during the 1960s gained LSD and Psilocybin lots of notoriety and ultimately led to their categorization as Schedule I illicit drugs in 1970.[19]

MAPS is committed to exploring the potential use of LSD and psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of patients suffering from the deep anxiety associated with life-threatening illness. MAPS’ pilot LSD and psilocybin studies will be used to guide development of future treatment methodologies, developing new research protocols to meet modern drug development standards.[19]

MAPS is conducting a study on LSD-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of anxiety secondary to life-threatening illness. The study is taking place in Solothurn, Switzerland, and is the first study in 35 years to investigate the therapeutic use of LSD in human subjects. The study's primary focus is to assess the safety and effectiveness of conducting LSD-assisted psychotherapy with a population of individuals who are experiencing anxiety associated with life-threatening illness. The study has received approval from the BAG (the equivalent of the DEA in Switzerland), the Ethics Committee (the Swiss IRB), and SwissMedic. Enrollment began in April 2008 and is now complete.[19]

MAPS has also developed a protocol to study the effectiveness of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in treating anxiety related to the experience of having a life-threatening illness such as advanced stage cancer. This study is to be conducted in the US under the principal investigation of Sameet Kumar, Ph.D.[19]

Ibogaine treatment for drug addiction

MAPS is collecting observational data from two ibogaine treatment centers in Mexico to study the long-term effects of Ibogaine treatment on opiate-dependent subjects.

MAPS has released a request for proposals (RFP) to find a research team interested in conducting clinical trials on ibogaine; a $25,000 grant has been made available to help fund such a study.[30]

Medical marijuana

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) holds a monopoly on the supply of marijuana grown for research in the United States[citation needed], as they fund the only laboratory licensed to grow it. Since NIDA is solely interested in studying the adverse aspects of marijuana use and abuse, studies to explore its potential medical benefit are impossible within the US.

MAPS is the only organization working to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of botanical marijuana as a prescription medicine to the satisfaction of the FDA[citation needed]. For nearly ten years, MAPS has been involved in lengthy and ongoing legal battles with the DEA to end NIDA’s monopoly on research-grade marijuana.[15]

Alternatively, MAPS has received full approval from the FDA to study the effectiveness of marijuana, both smoked and vaporized, in the treatment of individuals experiencing war-related PTSD. This marks the first time the FDA has approved an outpatient marijuana study.[31]

Other research projects

MAPS has pursued a number of other research studies examining the effects of psychedelics administered to human subjects. These studies include, but are not limited to, studies of MDE, Ayahuasca, DMT, Ketamine, LSA, Mescaline, Peyote, and Salvia divinorum.

MAPS has also conducted multi-drug studies as well as cross-cultural and meta-analysis research.

Educational outreach

MAPS bulletin

The MAPS Bulletin (called the MAPS Newsletter before 1995) is the organization's official publication. It provides summaries of psychedelic research conducted under the auspices of the organization and other worldwide research efforts in addition to discussions of psychedelic culture, personal reflections on psychedelic experiences, and writings from leading figures in the psychedelic research community.[32]

Psychedelic harm reduction

MAPS offers educational resources that actively promote psychedelic harm reduction. Psychedelic harm reduction is an approach to minimize harmful consequences and risks associated with the therapeutic and recreational use of psychedelic drugs. A harm reduction approach is an alternative to drug prohibition laws that criminalize users of psychedelic substances. Inexperienced or overwhelmed users of psychedelics sometimes have challenging emotional experiences that are resolved through law enforcement or medical intervention, which may lead to psychological damage long after the trip is over.[33] A harm reduction approach to using psychedelics often includes attention to set and setting, a trip sitter, or framing in the context of psychedelic therapy.

MAPS has provided psychedelic emergency services at festivals such as Hookahville, Burning Man and the Boom Festival. MAPS’ model of psychedelic emergency services is volunteer staffed, peer-based and relies on acute intervention.[34] MAPS also provides training and an educational video, which empowers psychedelic users and their peers with therapeutic techniques for use in assisting others through difficult psychedelic experiences. MAPS’ approach to psychedelic harm reduction encourages a new framework for looking at “bad” trips as opportunities for emotional and spiritual growth.

Additionally, MAPS co-sponsors, an online resource that provides laboratory testing of ecstasy tablets for a minimal cost, which allows users to know what exactly they are ingesting and to avoid taking mislabeled or impure substances. MAPS has also formed a partnership with Bluelight, a web forum dedicated to harm reduction.


  • MAPS Pharmacologically-Assisted Psychotherapy Conference (Nov. 28th–Dec. 1st, 1990, Bern, Switzerland)[35]
  • Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century (April 15–18, 2010, San Jose, CA)[36]
  • Catalysts: The Impact of Psychedelics from Culture to Creativity (Dec. 10th–12th, 2010, Los Angeles, CA)[37]
  • The Second International Psychedelic Science Conference (April 18–23, 2013, Oakland, CA)[38]

See also

External links


  1. Letter Confirming MAPS' 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Status
  2. - About
  3. February 2015 Web Brochure
  4. Association for Psychedelic Studies - Wikipedia
  5. - Other Psychedelics Research
  6. Doblin R (2002). "A clinical plan for MDMA ("Ecstasy") in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): partnering with the FDA". Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. 34 (2): 185–94. doi:10.1080/02791072.2002.10399952. PMID 12691208. 
  7. Association for Psychedelic Studies - Wikipedia
  8. "Journal of Altered States of Consciousness". Google Books. Baywood Publishing Company: 289. 1979. Osmond appeared before the New York Academy of Sciences in April 1956 and read the paper in which he proposed the word psychedelic (mind manifesting) to replace psychotomimetic ... 
  9. "A Manual for MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder" (PDF). Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. 4 January 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
  10. from the DEA Scheduling Hearing of MDMA
  11. Millard, M. (October 8–14, 2004). "This is your brain on drugs: Rick Doblin thinks pot, ecstasy, and other psychedelics could unlock the human mind — and he wants to bring them to Harvard, the FDA, and a doctor's office near you". Boston Phoenix. Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
  12. Financial Reports,, retrieved 2012-04-14 
  13. Mission,, retrieved 2012-04-14 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Medical Marijuana,, retrieved 2012-04-14 
  16. Harris, Gardiner (18 January 2010). "Researchers find study of medical marijuana discouraged". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  17. Stafford, Lindsay (February–April 2010), "The state of clinical cannabis research in the United States", HerbalGram, 85: 64–68 
  18. Abrams DI; Vizoso HP; Shade SB; Jay C; Kelly ME; Benowitz NL (2007), "Vaporization as a smokeless cannabis delivery system: A pilot study", Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 82 (5): 572–578, doi:10.1038/sj.clpt.6100200, PMID 17429350 
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 LSD & Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy for Anxiety,, retrieved 2012-04-14 
  20. Psychedelic Research Around the World,, retrieved 2012-04-14 
  21. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named
  22. "MAPS Staff: Who We Are". Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  23. MAPS Bulletin Volume XX, 3, "2010 Annual Report"
  24. "Funding Priorities". Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  25. MAPS Annual Financial Report, Fiscal Year 2009-2010 June 1, 2009 - May 31, 2010
  26. "MAPS' Annual Financial Reports". Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy,, retrieved 2012-04-14 
  28. Michael Mithoefer; et al. (2010). "The safety and efficacy of ±3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder: the first randomized controlled pilot study". Journal of Psychopharmacology. 25: 1–14. doi:10.1177/0269881110378371. PMC 3122379Freely accessible. PMID 20643699. Retrieved 2012-04-14. 
  29. Rätsch, Christian (2005). Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications. New York: Park Street Press. ISBN 0-89281-978-2. 
  30. |Ibogaine Therapy for Drug Addiction
  31. MAPS News 2011-May-9,, 2011-05-09, retrieved 2012-04-14 
  32. MAPS Bulletin,, retrieved 2012-10-24 
  33. 2009: Valerie Mojeiko Psychedelic Harm Reduction – Rethinking the "Bad Trip" on Vimeo
  34. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named
  35. "MAPS' Swiss Pharmacologically-Assisted Psychotherapy Conference", MAPS Bulletin 2(1), Winter 1990/91 [1]
  36. "Conference 2010 Videos". Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  38. [2]