As a brief update on my posts on the clinical use of MDMA (Part 1, Part 2) I'll note that the MAPS folks are trumpeting the initiation of yet another clinical trial with extra oomph because it is at dear auld Haavahd.
One of my agents passed along a message MAPS honcho Rick Doblin sent out to one of his mailing lists (I can't find it duplicated on the MAPS site, but the info will be there eventually you can bet):
On Saturday, February 23, 2008, after more than a decade of hard work, Dr. John Halpern conducted the first experimental session in his study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in twelve subjects with treatment-resistant anxiety associated with advanced-stage cancer (or PDF). Dr. Halpern is also conducting a major five-year NIDA-funded study into the neurocognitive risks of heavy use of Ecstasy, enhancing his ability to balance the risks and benefits of MDMA. This historic start of the MDMA/cancer anxiety study would not have been possible without the contributions of many people, including his co-investigators, the members of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) at both the Lahey Clinic Medical Center and McLean Hospital, both institutions' administrators and staff, and federal regulatory officials at FDA and even DEA. The study's $250,000 budget is funded by Mr. Peter Lewis through a direct grant to McLean Hospital. MAPS assisted Dr. Halpern in the protocol design and approval process.
The funny thing is that this reminded me of a curious article forwarded by the PP a while back. It was an update of a rather old bust of a ring of LSD suppliers. The reason this case was in the news is because the feds caught the money guy, Stefan Wathne, who had apparently been running around the globe evading arrest in the case. Mired deep in the story we find:
Wathne was introduced to Pickard through Dr. John Halpern, a leading psychedelic researcher from Harvard's prestigious McLean Hospital.
Halpern, records show, was paid $319,000 by Pickard from 1996 to 1999 - the same years Wathne is charged with laundering money for Pickard.
Testimony at Pickard's drug trial suggested that Halpern was paid for the Wathne introduction.
Wathne's alleged role in the LSD ring was to take drug money, cycle it through Russia and then send it back to Pickard, partly in the form of a "donation" to his UCLA research program, according to testimony at Pickard's trial.
After the silo bust, Halpern made a deal with the feds and ratted out his friends.
Interesting story here, no doubt. Especially given Halpern's LSD study and NIDA-funded MDMA study.
Writedit has been known to get a little het up about legal drug pushers (the tobacco industry) supporting scientific research projects. Aunt Janet also isn't too keen on tobacco company funding for academic research. How should we view cases in which illicit drug pusher money ends up back supporting research projects?