by Trisha McMillan
The MAPS conference could mark the end of a 30-year dark age regarding the study of entheogens.
In mid-April, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) presented Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century, a three-day conference that drew together researchers from around the United States and all over the world. This was no easily dismissed gathering of aging hippies and modern-day mystics—the conference was the first of its kind: over 90 scientifically grounded presentations exploring the state of the art in psychedelic research. And I do mean scientific; the papers were unassailably rigorous and sometimes academically dry (“The Chemical Analysis of Hallucinogenic Tryptamines Obtained from Organic Synthesis” anyone?). These scientists have been working strictly with governmental approval, and the scrutiny under which they have been laboring has been extremely intense. In his opening comments, MAPS founder Rick Doblin, Ph.D. said, “…the eyes of the world are upon us because these [psychedelics] are the tools to connect us to what most makes us human…Regulators the world over are now willing to eventually give permission for these studies.”