Nonprofit Advocates for Medical Ecstasy

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December 3, 2010; Source: San Jose Mercury News | The diversity of the nonprofit sector is quite remarkable. Take the Santa Cruz-based nonprofit, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), for instance.  It has been working to get government approval for the use of Methelen Dioxy Meth Amphetamine (MDMA) as a psychedelic drug treatment for depression, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

MAPS is planning a large scale clinical testing of MDMA with combat veterans to alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder. The initials MDMA might not be all that familiar, but the street name of the drug certainly is—Ecstasy. Like the California nonprofits that promote the medical uses of marijuana, MAPS thinks that Ecstasy could have a government-regulated purpose other than creating feelings of love and affection among participants at dance club raves.

The organization gets legitimate support for its research, including close to $1.2 million since 2003 from the San Francisco Foundation. Between June 2007 and May 2009, MAPS generated over $2.9 million in revenues supporting a wide range of programs and testing of psychedelics for medical purposes. According to its 2008 990 the group paid for a video to counter backlash against psychedelic drug research, research on the pain reduction benefits of medical marijuana, testing LSD as a drug for end-of-life anxiety, and other programs. The group also supports a massive library of information on the health uses and health risks of a wide variety of drugs.

The snarky part of us leads to thoughts about Ecstasy-medicated MAPS staff dancing a bit too vigorously, showing each other lots of affection, and clenching their teeth, but by all appearances (to us, as non-scientists), MAPS is providing a legitimate nonprofit function in finding potential medical uses for psychedelics. If Ecstasy proves useful for PTSD, MAPS will have provided a very useful service, as somewhere between 12 percent and 20 percent of combat veterans with service in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from PTSD.—Rick Cohen