Rick Doblin, Ph.D., is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He received his doctorate in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he wrote his dissertation on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics and marijuana and his Master’s thesis on a survey of oncologists about smoked marijuana vs. the oral THC pill in nausea control for cancer patients. His undergraduate thesis at New College of Florida was a 25-year follow-up to the classic Good Friday Experiment, which evaluated the potential of psychedelic drugs to catalyze religious experiences. He also conducted a thirty-four year follow-up study to Timothy Leary’s Concord Prison Experiment. Rick studied with Dr. Stanislav Grof and was among the first to be certified as a Holotropic Breathwork practitioner. His professional goal is to help develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana, primarily as prescription medicines but also for personal growth for otherwise healthy people, and eventually to become a legally licensed psychedelic therapist. He founded MAPS in 1986, and currently resides in Boston with his wife and one of three children (two in college).
Avoiding Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory: Challenges to the Mainstreaming of Psychedelics in the 21st Century
As the old proverb goes, “There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip.” As efforts to conduct Phase 3 research into MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD and psilocybin therapy for depression are being initiated, it is looking quite promising that by 2021 MDMA and psilocybin will be approved as adjuncts to psychotherapy by FDA and potentially by EMA. With promising Phase 2 data, psychedelics have never been closer to being legally approved as adjuncts for psychotherapy. I’ll discuss MAPS’ progress with Phase 3 planning for both FDA and EMA, including the fundamental mistake that the Phase 2 research revealed in my hypothesis in how to design a double-blind study with psychedelics. I’ll highlight some of the key challenges ahead including developing adequate training for therapy providers and meeting the enormous need for psychedelic therapy, gathering information about therapeutic outcomes and adverse events post-approval, obtaining insurance coverage, avoiding sexual misconduct in therapeutic settings, avoiding backlash from drug warriors, managing the relationship with the drug policy reform movement, managing public education and potential advertisements, and the ethics of costs, profits and for-profit businesses.