History and Future of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)


This article describes the teenage vision of the founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) that humanity’s future would be aided by the therapeutic and spiritual potential of psychedelic substances. The article traces the trajectory of MAPS from inception in 1986 to its present, noting future goals with respect to research, outreach, and harm reduction. MAPS was created as a non-profit psychedelic pharmaceutical company in response to the 1985 scheduling of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). Overcoming many hurdles, MAPS developed the first double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and plans for FDA prescription approval in 2021. MAPS’ program of research expanded to include a trial of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety when facing life-threatening illness, observational studies of ibogaine in the treatment of addiction, and studies of MDMA for social anxiety in people with autism spectrum disorders. MAPS meets the challenges of drug development through a clinical research team led by a former Novartis drug development professional experienced in the conduct, monitoring, and analysis of clinical trials. MAPS’ harm-reduction efforts are intended to avoid backlash and build a post-prohibition world by assisting non-medical users to transform difficult psychedelic experiences into opportunities for growth.

Emerson, A., Ponté, L., Jerome, L., & Doblin, R. (2014). History and Future of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 46(1), 27–36. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2014.877321
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