New master’s program at UW-Madison focuses on psychedelics therapy
The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Pharmacy will launch a new Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Investigation program for master’s students in September, says Wisconsin Public Radio. Taught online, the course aims to equip students interested in researching the therapeutic potential of psychoactive drugs to treat mental illness and PTSD.
Program director and assistant professor Cody Wenthur said it’s the first program of its kind.
“We’re particularly interested in training students to enter the growth pharmaceutical industry surrounding the use of these substances, providing them with the tools to understand the data and also to work in an ethical manner and adhere to all the regulatory pieces surrounding the use of these compounds,” he said.
Students will learn about psychedelics, dissociatives, cannabinoids and other psychoactives, some of which are sourced through Madison non-profit the Usona Institute. All instructors are required to have Schedule 1 licenses to work with the substances — even though the FDA has identified MDMA and psilocybin as potential breakthrough therapies.
“The most important first step is for us to not get caught up in the hype and say this is absolutely a 100 percent guaranteed cure for all of societal ills,” Wenthur told WPR. “I think that’s a mistake. But I also think it’s a mistake to ignore the promise that these compounds are exhibiting.”
Despite opposition, California decriminalization bill moves ahead
A bill to decriminalize possession and sharing of psychedelics in California by Sen. Scott Weiner passed through the Senate Public Safety Committee in a 4-1 vote last week.
“Psychedelic drugs have significant benefits both for mental health and addiction treatment,” Wiener told FOX40. “And the FDA has actually classified several different psychedelics as quote-on-quote breakthrough treatments.”
The details: In addition to decriminalizing possession and sharing, Senate Bill 519 would approve the use of psilocybin, MDMA, LSD, mescaline and ibogaine for veterans with PTSD and people with addictions and/or mental illnesses. The legislation is also aimed at ending the war on drugs, which Wiener called an “abject failure,” and includes expungement of criminal records for past convictions and arrests.
The opposition: Tak Allen, president of the International Faith Based Coalition and the Congress of Racial Equality, opposed the legislation, saying it doesn’t appropriately emphasize the therapeutic applications of psychedelics and doesn’t adequately address potential misuses of the substances.
“You’re saying that this is for therapeutic purposes, and the way the bill is written, it’s written more as a recreational bill,” Allen said. “I also had major concerns within my coalition that ketamine is another known date rape drug and that’s on the list of drugs that they would like to have legalized.”
MindMed shares MDMA dose learnings with new study results
MindMed published the results from its first-ever study on dosing optimization using personalized medicine, which was conducted at the University Hospital Basel Liechti Lab in Basel, Switzerland.
Using data from 194 MDMA administrations in 10 randomized placebo-controlled studies in healthy subjects, they found that an individual’s body weight, sex, age, genetics, personality and mood can all help inform optimal doses of MDMA:
- The best predictor was dose of MDMA per kg of body weight.
- Genetic testing of CYP2D6, which is a drug metabolizing enzyme, is also useful to adjust a dose — low levels can benefit from a dose reduction.
- Subjects with personalities that are high in “openness to a new experience” have more acutely positive experiences.
- Those with lower levels of openness and higher levels of anxiety or neuroticism are more likely to feel fear. In the same vein, subjects who felt anxious before their dose were more likely to feel anxiety afterward.
- Aside from body weight, women and men experienced comparable effects.
- Using MDMA up to five times previously did not impact the effects.
Conclusion: “Personalizing MDMA dosing may help optimize the acute MDMA experience including more positive subjective effects of MDMA and reducing adverse effects of MDMA.”
Third Massachusetts city unanimously approves decriminalization resolution
Hot on the tail of Somerville and Cambridge, Northampton City Council unanimously passed a resolution to deprioritize policing possession, use and distribution of entheogenic plants and fungi like psilocybin and ayahuasca.
- Emphasizes the therapeutic potential of psychedelics to treat mental illness, addiction and PTSD.
- Identifies the failure of the war on drugs and its harms to vulnerable communities.
- Calls on Hampshire County District Attorney to “cease prosecution of persons involved in the use, possession, or distribution of entheogenic plants and the use or possession without the intent to distribute of any controlled substance.”
- Shows Council support for two bills, one that would remove penalties for possession of all illicit drugs, the other to study entheogenic substances with the goal of regulating and legalizing them.
“A supermajority of Massachusetts voters support treating controlled substances as an issue of public health — hopefully more politicians will start listening to the inspiring, psychedelic stories of the people they claim to represent.”
Up next? Worcester and Boston, where organizers plan to introduce resolutions within the next two weeks.
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