A couple of days ago, the San Francisco Chronicle published incredible news that a team of therapists in Marin County in California have gotten permission to go ahead with MDMA-assisted therapy trials. This follows news that the DEA has approved MDMA-assisted therapy and will begin to show the benefits or drawbacks to this specific style of therapy.

Dr. Philip Wolfson, a San Anselmo psychiatrist and longtime advocate of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, has begun recruiting for 18 people for his research project, which will be conducted over the next year in his cozy hilltop psychotherapy center overlooking Mount Tamalpais.

The article from the Chronicle breaks down the issue into a few distinct points, including the fight to reclassify federally-defined “ecstasy,” which used to be considered a drug “easily abused and without medical value.” The trials hope to remedy this method of thinking by showing MDMA’s powerful ability to help survivors of major trauma cope with and recover from debilitating PTSD and other trauma-related disorders.

Another point brought up is the change from “fringe” thinking to legitimate medical use. While approval by the DEA for limited medical trials is a large step forward, other federal agencies like the FDA will have to approve larger trials in the future and even then, it’s very unlikely that doctors will have carte blanche to hand out ecstasy prescriptions like they would antibiotics.

Rick Doblin, the executive director of MAPS, said he is convinced that will happen — perhaps in five or six years. “MDMA,” he said, “is the most inherently healing of the psychedelic drugs.”

As stated before, Dr. Wolfson has begun recruitment for the therapy, but there are very strict regulations. Volunteers must “be at least 18 years old and have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness of a noncardiac nature. They must have at least nine months of life expectancy and be experiencing significant levels of anxiety.” The study is free to participants.

For more information, call the study office at (877) 372-2692 or e-mail sf@mdmasites.org.

If you’re in San Francisco on June 4th, you can hear Dr. Philip Wolfson give a public talk titled “MDMA and the Science of Psychedelic Therapy — The Great Adventure” at the First Unitarian Church at 7:30pm.