MDMA Could Be Legal for Medical Use by 2021

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MDMA Could Be Legal for Medical Use by 2021

By May Wilkerson 03/10/16

Researchers have entered the final phase of an FDA-approved study that, if successful, could lead the U.S. to legalize MDMA.

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MDMA Could Be Legal for Medical Use by 2021
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MDMA, best known as a popular “club drug,” could double as a miracle cure for adults with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

So far, trials have proven so successful that the drug could be legalized for medical purposes within the next five years, 7NEWS Denver reports. More and more research suggests that the psychedelic drug, more commonly known as “ecstasy” or “Molly,” is highly effective in treating adults with PTSD, including military veterans and rape victims. Some leading U.S. medical experts have called it a “breakthrough cure.”

MDMA has been illegal in the U.S. since the ‘80s. But recently, a small group of medical researchers were able to secure permission from the government to conduct medical trials on the drug as a potential PTSD cure.

The drug itself is not the cure; it works in conjunction with psychiatric therapy. During therapy sessions, patients, who are blindfolded and lying down on a couch, take the drug and are guided by trained therapists through traumatic memories and fears.

"So people are able to look at traumatic memories, the fear is reduced and then they're able to separate out that it was happening then and not now," said Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

Veteran Army medic James Casey is one of the patients to undergo the treatment. Casey was shipped off to Afghanistan at the age of 18 and though he spent only a year there, he witnessed people “shot up, blown up, whatever,” he told 7NEWS Denver. “Kids get caught in the crossfire as well."

Since returning home, he has suffered severe PTSD symptoms, including episodes of uncontrollable anger which he took out on his kids, wife, and puppy. Casey tried “nearly every single other treatment for PTSD that the Department of Defense sponsored," he said. “And nothing helped.”

Then, he tried MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. "The MDMA was like armor that I put all over my body so that I could dive into the darkness of my PTSD, and then come back unscathed," said Casey. These “grueling” sessions can last up to 8-10 hours while the drug wears off, but he said the treatment has helped. "Me trying to get better by myself was like I was lost in a cave with no light," says Casey. "The MDMA was like light for me to see all throughout this cave. And the therapists were like guides."

The $21-million dollar FDA-approved study, which involves war vets as well as rape victims and other PTSD sufferers, is currently entering its third and final phase. So far, research shows that nearly 83% of patients have been cured, with no recurrence of PTSD a year after treatment, according to the Journal of Psychopharmacology. This is more than triple the 25% success rate in other treatments. If phase three is as successful, the FDA could approve MDMA for legal medical use by 2021.

"It blows every single other treatment for PTSD out of the water. It's like a dream come true,” says Casey. "I'm grateful that I do have my life back." 

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