02/21/10 - Rick Doblin

Century of Lies

Dr. Rick Doblin, Pres. of Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies + Keith Stroup of NORML from Time4Hemp program

Audio file

Century of Lies, February 22, 2010

The failure of Drug War is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more, now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.


Dean Becker: Hello my friends. Welcome to this edition of Century of Lies. Today we’ll have two main guests for you. We’ll hear from Dr. Rick Doblin president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. And we’ll hear from Mr. Keith Stroup, the past president of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

That segment was recorded on Time for Hemp, the online marijuana centric program that’s hosted by Casper Leitch who this week featured an in depth interview with yours truly which has given focus for the main part of this week’s Cultural Baggage show. You can check it online at drugtruth.net. But first up we’re going to hear from Dr. Rick Doblin.


Rick Doblin: My name is Rick Doblin. I’ve got a PhD from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics and marijuana. I founded MAPS, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in 1986. And we are a non profit research and educational organization.

Basically a non profit pharmaceutical company trying to develop psychedelics and marijuana in to FDA approved prescription medicines. And also working with the European Medicines Agency trying to integrate psychedelics and marijuana in to our culture.

Dean Becker: Now Rick you guys have a conference that’s coming up here in a just a few months and I want to get in to that here in just a little bit. But there’s a breaking story talking about this new synthetic cannabinoid, K2. The DEA even seized a batch of it up in Philadelphia recently. I am wondering if you have had a chance to investigate that substance yet. What’s your thoughts on it?

Rick Doblin: I have. And it’s remarkably like marijuana because it’s basically you know synthetic cannabinoids. And there was people that looked at a large number of these and selected the ones that were most like the experience of smoking THC you know smoking marijuana for tetrahydracannabinol.

And it’s not scheduled and it’s been widely distributed all over the world. Initially it as sold as a herbal product that produced a marijuana like experience. And there’s a bunch of those products. Most of them are really just bogus and it doesn’t really resemble marijuana. And this one did.

And it took people particularly police authorities a long time to figure out that the reason it was so much like marijuana was because it contained synthetic cannabinoids that are effective in very, very low concentrations.

Its about this cat and mouse game between you know the people who want to block certain people from having certain kinds of experiences to those people who want to have those kinds of experiences. And I think that it just goes back and forth and back and forth. And our society should wise up and just regulate it and bring this up from the underground.

Dean Becker: Rick the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies is involved in many studies both ongoing and recently completed can you kind of give us a summary of what has been discovered or what’s ongoing?

Rick Doblin: Yeah our top priority is MDMA or MDMA assisted psycho therapy for post traumatic stress disorder. And we’ve just completed a study with twenty-one subjects in the United States with two veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD and the rest were of the eighteen of the other nineteen they were women survivors of sexual assault or childhood sexual abuse. And one man who had been abused as well.

And what we’ve been able to show is that in this group of people who have had post traumatic stress disorder for an average of nineteen years, plus have failed on pharmaco therapy and psycho therapy. So they’re treatment resistant, chronic.

That when they are participating in a four month process of therapy which involves three MDMA sessions once a month, basically three to five months apart with weekly non drug psychotherapy before for preparation and then in the month between the sessions for integration.

That when we are able to work with patients in this way a substantial number of them, a surprising number of them no longer have PTSD at the end of the treatment. And these are again people that were chronic treatment resistant.

Now our approach is expensive and labor intensive. There’s a lot of hours of therapy. Not like give somebody a SSRI and then they take the medicine on their own; like a situation where it’s predominantly psychotherapy catalyzed by three MDMA sessions in four months.

So we are able now to suggest that based on this preliminary evidence first off that further research is warranted. We had no safety problems. And secondly that there is something about the combination of pharmaco therapy and psycho therapy that works better than either alone and that helps people to break out of patterns of fear and anxiety and stress that have been persisting for a very long time.

So if something that is fundamental to what it means to be human, to be able to heal from trauma. You know our body heals from all sorts of traumas as we grow but our emotions sometimes don’t heal as well. It’s not all set automatically. We have to do it consciously and we get in to problems.

So here we now have a substance that pharmacologically is similar to, produces effects that are similar to the post orgasmic state. So that the oxytocin and proactin release from MDMA, the serotonin and dopamine release, is very similar in many ways to what we’re like after an orgasm. And when peple think about post orgasmic state. If you’re not striving, you are there, there’s more open communication, there’s more listening. You know it’s like very satisfied open state.

And I think that helps explain why there’s such a wide spread interest in MDMA. Why the recreational use of MDMA in social context is considered to be much better for relations between the sexes than when alcohol is used. And that there is just enormous potential both to learn about love, bonding and healing and also to use in therapeutic applications.

We’ve also finished a similar study in Switzerland with twelve subjects and we have clinically and statistically significant results from that. So that now we have independent confirmation from two studies in two different cultures that MDMA can be helpful for people with treatment resistant post traumatic stress disorder.

And we are now have a study under way in Israel. We are trying to start research in Jordan. We’re very close in Jordan. In Canada and in Spain and we’ve got permission recently from the FDA for a new study in the united states with MDMA for post traumatic stress disorder that’s going to be entirely in veterans, in sixteen veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan and a few perhaps from Vietnam.

So we are now starting to move towards what’s called the end of phase two meetings with the FDA. So basically all these are small experimental pilot studies testing various things.

You know how do we produce an effect to double blind? What is our most effective treatment or approach? How is it that we can train the therapists. You what kind of support do the patients need in between the MDMA sessions? How do best prepare them?

So we have a lot of these kind of questions aimed at this meeting it with FDA at which we propose a design and then we discuss at this meeting whether we can come to agreement on what would be the design of the large phase three studies, two of which are required to prove safety and efficacy to get MDMA in to a prescription medicine situation. Or to get anything you need these two phase three studies.

One of which can be in the United States, one of which must be domestic but one can be abroad. Similarly for the European Medicine Agency, they want one conducted throughout Europe and one can be abroad. So we’re exploring the idea. Can we do one of these phase three studies in the US, one in the middle east and Europe and then cross submit.

And what we’re anticipating is that we’re now ten years, ten million dollars away from having MDMA as a prescription medicine and that MDMA is likely to be the therapeutic, the psychedelic drug and the therapeutic indication that are the best combination to make in to prescription medicines.

MDMA is more gentle than the classic psychedelics. It’s a little bit easier to work with. Therapists are more willing to be trained in how to use it. There’s just a lot of potential with MDMA. and the toxicity has been resolved to the point at least in therapy we have been able to show that there’s no significant, there’s no evidence of harm.

Dean Becker: We’re speaking with Dr. Rick Doblin president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. Rick you guys have a major conference forthcoming. The list of presenters is like a who’s who as far as in this field of endeavor. Would you care to give us a outline of what that conference is going to be, who’s going to be there?

Rick Doblin: Dean I would love to. Thank you very much because it’s a big, big project. It’s the largest conference on psychedelic research to take place in the United States in seventeen years. The last one was actually was one that MAPS also organized in association with Dale [ ] from the California NORML and that was in 1993for the fiftieth anniversary of the discovery of LSD.

And what we’re trying to do now is basically to say that there is a renaissance in psychedelic research that’s taking place all over the world. And that it’s about time to demonstrate to the public, to the media the full range of discoveries that have already taken place.

And the potential if this research can continue without another backlash and with sufficient funding what can be contributed to our understanding of the mind, our understanding of spirituality, our understanding of therapeutic uses in a wide range. One of the main areas is working with people who are dying who have anxiety about fear of death.

So what we’ve done is we have now invited somebody from pretty much every team of the world that is doing psychedelic research in humans from Switzerland to Germany to Spain to England. We have an incredible group of people that are coming to talk about ayahuasca. So that we actually it’s gotten bigger and bigger.

And we have three concurrent tracks. One track is about the clinical research, evidence based. And we’re offering continuing medical education credits to doctors, psychologists, nurses and social workers. But these talks are also open to the public.

We have another track that is almost entirely about ayahuasca. People coming up from Brazil, people coming from all over the place talking about ayahuasca.

And then we had a third track that is about a range of issues that are more in some cases more psychological therapists talking about how to do psychotherapy. A whole series of talks about [ ]. We’ve got so much going on.

So if people go to the MAPS website, maps.org/conference. They’ll find the information there. We basically set the registration fees fairly low because we have a public education mission.

We’re hoping to get about six hundred people or so to the conference. And we’ve already got about three hundred signed up and its two months away. Three hundred have already payed just about so it’s looking really good. There is a chance that we could sell out.

And what we’re anticipating is that we will be able to take someone who is highly skeptical and present in a rigorous way the research that’s being done, the speculations that people have made, the work on ayahuasca, in such a way so that we hope at least that a skeptical person will come away with the feeling that the this has been a tragedy that there has been repression of research for almost forty years. And that these substances not only hold promise for a large number of different uses but they’re not inherently destructive of society.

And so I think that’s the point I’d like to make. Is that you know in the sixties there was this sense of psychedelics as symbols of the counterculture. And I think this whole idea of counterculture was a product of the times. And now we need everybody. The challenges are even greater now than they were.

We really need everybody together working together to try to make a better world for ourselves and our children. And so we’re suggesting that psychedelics can be incorporated in to a culture and be replenishing of that culture, can be tied with innovation with creativity with spirituality with healing.

And that for our culture to continue to kind of try to bring about a balance between the intellectual developments that have far outstripped our emotional maturity and our spiritual maturity so that we have the ability to destroy the planet, to wipe out cultures. But you know and it’s like miraculous what our technology has accomplished.

But our spirituality has not reached that level of love and miracle and acceptance and appreciation of differences rather than fear of differences and so part of what we’re suggesting is that it’s so important and so delicate that this work continue.

And we’re trying to create a point where we’re sharing it with the public and the media. And so people can take a look at it and hopefully get over some of their prior fears and see that there’s something to be excited about and that we are really talking about working together with society.

I think there’s still as many of feel there’s a lot of human rights violations and repressive aspects of the war on drugs and that its very misguided and counter productive and expensive. And that we have an opportunity to really turn things around and recognize that there were there was this sort of rush up rush of up roaring of energy in the sixties but our culture wasn’t really capable of handling it.

And this conference is an attempt to kind of say look what we’ve learned in the last forty years. We’re more moderate, what we’re saying. We’re not talking about one dose miracles cures. We’re talking about integration. We’re talking about preparation. We’re just talking about opportunities that are created that can be supportive for these long term personality change, spiritual growth, a variety of things.

But that we’re weaving throughout all of this the best science and the best research methodology that we can do; that that’s our commitment to trying to find out what’s really going on.

And this conference will be a place for people to come together. It’s going to be in San Jose, April 15th to 18th, 2010. and there’s pre and post conference workshops before and after on psychedelic neuroscience, on MDMA, for therapeutic method for PTSD, Alex and Allison Gray on visionary art. We’re going to be having Andy [ ] is going to be speaking by video to the conference.

We’re going to be having the teams from Johns Hopkins, NYU, UCLA. They’re doing work with Psilocybin, with end of life. We’re having our teams from Jordan, Isreal, Spain, Canada, United States, Switzerland all who are working on MDMA for PTSD. It’s going to be a major, major celebration.

The last conferences that were of this magnitude were in Switzerland for the 2006 for the hundredth birthday of Albert Hoffman; and then 2008 when he was a hundred and two and he died shortly after the conference in 2008. And so now we have switched to having this kind of a conference in the United States. So it’s a rare, rare opportunity for people to really learn the very best and the very latest in what’s up with psychedelics.

And I should mention that the same weekend on the east coast Patients Out of Time is organizing a continuing medical education conference on marijuana and cannabinoid research. And that we’re thinking in a way, we’re coordinating our efforts. Andy [ ] is going to be speaking to both locations by video.

And so the representative groups of the worlds leading cannabinoid researchers is gathering in the United States on the east coast. And the same weekend people from all over the world are gathering on the west coast to talk about psychedelics.

And I think it points to the strength of this movement that these substances previously been suppressed that the scientific community is fascinated by them. The therapeutic community sees great healing potential. The spiritual researchers and scientists see that there’s just a lot of potential in that direction.

The ayahuasca is all about integrating in to western cultures different kind of techniques. Also what they are doing in Brazil throughout South America. So it’s just a tremendous situation. And this conference is very complex to organize, big gamble on our part.

But the thing I would like to sort of conclude with is that there are four major groups involved in sponsoring research with psychedelics. MAPS, the [ ] research institute, the Beckley Foundation and the Council on Spiritual Practices. And everybody knows that in all movements there’s lots and lots of infighting. Wherever you have people you have got infighting. But we have tried our best to rise above that.

And so this is really the first event in the United States ever where we have the four different groups coming together. And the leaders of the four different groups will be opening and closing the conference with their brief talks before and after to give the vision part of things. And then we’ll have all of the detailed work on the research sandwiched in between.

And we are proud of he fact we have been able to overcome our differences, our competition over donors, our competition over media, just personal dynamics. And that we recognize there’s a higher and larger goal here which is that society and our world is in major crisis and that we need to provide as many tools for people as they can to deal with anxiety, to find sources of inspiration, spirituality, understanding.

And we’re hoping that this conference will be a bright light in that direction. And I encourage anybody to go to the MAPS website if you’re interested in learning more about the conference or the pre or post conference workshops or in registering. We welcome all of you. That’s maps.org/conference


Dean Becker: We interrupt this program for some breaking news. Dateline LaMarque, Texas. From the Galveston Daily News. A man La Marque police said was one of the city’s major drug dealers was arrested during an early morning raid said chief Randall Aragon.

Kevin Jermaine Britin, 33, was arrested at his home in La Marque about 4 am, charged with manufacturing and delivery of a controlled substance as well as an outstanding warrant for deadly conduct. Police did not reveal how much narcotics were found during the raid but Britin’s booking sheet showed his charge was for less than one gram of narcotics.

Quote along with such uncompromising crime control strategies such as these highly planned and skillful operations La Marque has introduced a community oriented policing effort end quote. I want to thank Galveston county Daily News for doing their part to keep the drug war alive and in catching my attention with the headline that read Major Drug Dealer Taken Down in La Marque Raid.


Dean Becker: Alright now as promised from the Time for Hemp program hosted by Casper Leitch. By the way their website is time numeral 4 hemp dot com. This is Keith Stroup, former director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.


Time 4 Hemp: Our next guest on the program has encouraging people to do that coast to coast in America. If you can safely do so, come out of the closet and be a proud smoker. He is a founder of one of the cornerstones of the organizations that have made the marijuana movement what it is today. His name is Keith Stroup. Keith, thank you for taking time for hemp.

Keith Stroup: It’s always my pleasure Casper.

Time 4 Hemp: I have got a question Keith. What is up with CBS not taking your money for an ad?

Keith Stroup: You know that’s I think the third time we’ve tried to do something where CBS is involved and they they’ve vetoed it every time. So obviously somebody that has some decision making authority there must be awfully anti marijuana. That’s the only… I mean otherwise why would they take the anti abortion ad on Super Bowl but somehow they couldn’t run the NORML ad in Times Square. I mean it doesn’t make any sense.

But keep in mind the basic fairness doctrine that people hope will cover something like this. It covers people that have licenses, radio and televisions stations but I don’t think it has any application unfortunately to the big whatever they call the sign that they have in Times Square.

So I mean I think that legally we’re we’re we’re looking at it. We’ve got some of the NORML lawyers trying to see if they can come up with you know a credible theory legal theory that we could sue them on. But frankly I doubt it. I mean private companies are allowed to do most what they want in this country. And if they want to be unfair they can be unfair. So we’ll move on to another fight. But that’s alright. We look forward to the next one.

Things are changing. Frankly I think there’s some companies out there would love to sell advertising space to NORML. So we’ll simply take the money and find a better use for it. You may recall we have some history in Manhattan in that a few years ago and I think it was 98 or something.

We had been given a sizeable grant by an individual, a supporter but it was C3 money. We couldn’t use it to lobby. So we used it to run an ad campaign against mayor Bloomberg when he first came to office. And when he was running for office he was asked if he had ever smoked marijuana. And he said of course I did and I enjoyed it too. And it’s widely reported.

So we took a picture of him and that quote and ran it, spent about a half a million dollars on an ad campaign that ran on all the city buses and on the bus stops and on radio. It was a marvelous campaign. So we were kind of looking forward to going back to Manhattan once again with Bloomberg. He was a good sport by the way, he didn’t object to it.

Time 4 Hemp: Now you have had national television ads before haven’t you?

Keith Stroup: We have. What we have done is we’ve run them on… You know you buy them through agencies generally and that’s what we did. And it involved I think CNN and I’m there were a number of major networks that we that some of our ads were on. But CBS was not among them. We went back and checked that. I am sure if they would have been they you know they would have objected.

Time 4 Hemp: I know Marco’s got a question so I’ll pass it off to him.

Marco: What’s NORML and what your organization does? How is it, is it any different with NORML here in Canada?

Keith Stroup: Well I think that there are one or two local groups of NORML in Canada. But I don’t think there’s any working country wide group. There’s Saskatchewan NORML that I see post on our affiliates list a good bit. And there’s an attorney up in Vancouver and I am sorry I am passing on his name right now. But he’s been a member of our NORML legal committee and I think legal council for Canada NORML when there was such a thing. What I what I can say is we’ve got several international chapters. New Zealand is very active. And there’s a number of them. The Virgin Islands has a big NORML chapter. Jamaica does.

But at least in this country I mean those are all independent groups. But in this country we make the point specifically that why NORML is a little different than the other organizations. We are a proud consumer lobby. We openly represent marijuana smokers in America whereas most of the groups are drug law reform groups.

And I mean they are good, they help a lot. They understand that it makes no sense to treat drug users like criminals. But they talk in the third person. They don’t talk about those of us who smoke marijuana.

Well at NORML we do because we are a marijuana smokers lobby. We take the position there is absolutely nothing wrong with the responsible use of marijuana. And it’s a much safer choice than alcohol or tobacco and people we would encourage them to do it if they are over twenty-one and they can do it legally. You can now in fourteen states and I think within a few years you’ll be able to do it all across this country.

Time 4 Hemp: Alright Keith. Keith look back at the last twelve months and what’s been the biggest surprise that made your mouth just drop open and go wow, it’s about time?

Keith Stroup: Well I think probably two things. The the degree of victory in both Massachusetts and Michigan. I thought we had a good shot to win both of them. But my goodness I think we sixty-five percent supported decriminalization initiative in Massachusetts and sixty-three in favor of the medical use bill in Michigan. That’s the Midwest man. You know that used to be considered too radical a concept for the Midwest.

So I tell you we are we are riding an enormous positive wave with the wind to our back right now. I want people to remember we did this in the seventies. We decriminalized eleven states from 1972 when Oregon became the first till Nebraska became the eleventh in 78. And then we didn’t win another single statewide battle for eighteen years.

We are riding an enormous wave right now of public support and gradually political support. If it continues for another three or four or five years I think we are going to stop arresting smokers in this country. And probably have the first couple of states California and Massachusetts or Washington Oregon will begin to experiment with a tax and regulate model and that would have been…

Time 4 Hemp: Oh.

Keith Stroup: …inconceivable five years ago.


Dean Becker: Alright friends, that’s about it. In closing I remind you once again there is no truth, justice, logic, scientific fact, medical data, no reason for this drug war to exist. We’ve been duped. Please visit our website, endprohibition.org.

Prohibido istac evilesco.


For the Drug Truth Network this is Dean Becker, asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition.

The Century of Lies

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston