Psychiatrists in Vancouver will soon begin a phase III clinical trial of MDMA, a hallucinogenic drug commonly known as ecstasy, for patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The treatment consists of three monthly, eight-hour sessions under the influence of MDMA, interspersed by nine 90-minute sessions without it. This work is historically significant, say the researchers involved, because it marks the first time in more than four decades that an illegal psychedelic drug has been clinically tested in Canada.
This double-blind, placebo-controlled study is being run by the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU), a provincial organization with a mandate to develop, evaluate and help implement evidence-based approaches to treat substance use and addiction. Vancouver is one of 16 locations in North America and Israel where teams are working on the same experiment under the guidance of the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).
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