PRISM Newsletter 01/2013

Dear <<First Name>>,

Welcome to our first PRISM newsletter. Thanks for your interest and support, we hope you enjoy reading this update which includes some recent media coverage plus a report on our visit to the Psychedelic Science 2013 Conference in the USA.

In this edition:

1. PRISM Submits a Question to the Australian Senate
2. ABC's 7.30 Report Talks to PRISM & MAPS about MDMA-PTSD Trials
3. Media Coverage Induced 'Kronic' Policy Reaction
4. PRISM Goes America: Psychedelic Science 2013
5. PRISM Works with Anex to Develop 'Fake LSD' Warning
6. Many Australian Drug Users are Educated and Well-off

7. Australia's Missing Psychedelic Science
8. Australian MDMA-PTSD Clinical Trial Update
9. APSAD 2013 Beyond Harm Reduction: Acknowledging Psychoactive Benefits
10. Donor list

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PRISM Submits a Question to the Australian Senate

In May 2013 PRISM was invited to draft a question for the Australian Senate about drugs, for a competition held by Melbourne-based organisation OurSay. Posted on the OurSay website and Facebook and Twitter networks, our question received tremendous support, gaining 1,532 votes and winning the competition by a margin of 780 votes.
The independent organisation OurSay is using social media to revitalise participation in Australian democracy. OurSay submits popular questions to be answered by participating politicians and community leaders.
On 25 June 2013 the Australian Greens' health spokesperson, Senator Richard Di Natale (pictured), posed PRISM’s question to the Australian Senate.
Senator Stephen Conroy responded on behalf of then Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Conroy simply read a statement reaffirming the current drug strategy rather than answering the question. While this was disappointing, PRISM was extremely pleased to have the opportunity to raise the issue of drug law reform in the Senate.
PRISM’s question was refined by our executive committee, with help from members of the Australian entheogenic community and support from Entheogenisis Australis through their mailing list and Facebook Page.

Our thanks go to the team at and to Senator Richard Di Natale for having the courage to address this controversial issue.
The story was covered by VICE Magazine and you can read their article here:

ABC's 7.30 Report Talks to PRISM & MAPS about MDMA-PTSD Trials

Steve McDonald (PRISM) and Rick Doblin (MAPS) talk to the 7.30 Report about MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD

Read more on the ABC's website

Media Coverage Induced a 'Kronic' Policy Reaction

The Australian media’s reporting on ‘kronic’, dubbed synthetic cannabis, induced a moral panic and lead to ineffective legislative changes, according to a study lead by coordinator of Addiction Studies at Curtin University, and Vice President of PRISM, Stephen Bright. The study found increases in drug-related harm as a result of both the media’s sensationalised reporting and the government’s reactive policy changes.

Read about the study in this Science Network WA article from 17 July 2013

PRISM members Stephen Bright & Monica Barratt from Curtin University reporting on synthetic cannabis in The Conversation, 15 November 2012

Above: Rick Doblin and the staff from MAPS meet with MDMA researchers from around the world (including Martin Williams & Steve McDonald from PRISM) during Psychedelic Science 2013 in California.

PRISM Goes America: Psychedelic Science 2013

By PRISM President Martin Williams PhD
Psychedelic Science 2013, a five-day conference/workshop event presented jointly by MAPS (the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), the Heffter Research Institute, the Beckley Foundation and the Council for Spiritual Practices took place in Oakland, California in mid-April. Steve McDonald and I headed over to fly the PRISM flag and discover what’s happening in psychedelic research worldwide. The full Australian contingent numbered around ten; most of us have links to PRISM and the broader EGA family (Rak Razam, Belinda Wickens, Sean Leneghan, Dave and Donna Misso and Nathan Mudaliar) and one (Dean Carson, currently a post-doctoral research fellow at Stanford) is an expat who – we hope – may be amenable to collaboration in the future. Click here to read Martin's full report...

(Martin & Steve attended Psychedelic Science 2013 at their own expense)

PRISM Works With Anex To Develop 'Fake LSD' Warning

PRISM has sought the assistance of Anex, a not-for-profit harm reduction organisation, to develop a social media campaign to raise people’s awareness of the danger of compounds known as NBOMe being sold as LSD.

This comes after the death of Sydney teenager Henry Kwan in June 2013 and subsequent media coverage. It was alleged that Kwan’s death was associated with 25B-NBOMe, dubbed by the media as 'legal synthetic LSD'.

Following Kwan's death media coverage linked a number of previous deaths in Australia and overseas to similar NBOMe compounds being sold as LSD, and noted that 'synthetic LSD' was available via Silk Road- an online black market- for as little as $1.50 per dose. This coverage stirred debate regarding drug legislation. Unfortunately the outcome was predictable, with bans placed on a number of completely unrelated synthetic substances at state and federal levels.

PRISM's executive committee was already aware of the NBOMe compounds, derivatives of Alexander Shulgin's 2C series of phenethylamines, which include 25i-NBOMe and 25B-NBOMe. These compounds are active in very small doses (micrograms) and often sold on high dose blotter tabs which may contain the equivalent of four or more recreational doses on one tab.
PRISM suspected that people mistaking these compounds for LSD may be taking two or more blotter tabs at once, which could potentially induce a dangerous psychosis. This dosage issue was not being reported in the media, so PRISM’s committee began to investigate the best way to inform the general public in order to reduce the risk of harm.
Together with members of the entheogenic community, PRISM and ANEX developed a warning message which was published online by Anex on 10th July 2013.
The online campaign will be supported by a poster campaign, with Convenience Advertising agreeing to place posters in various locations around Melbourne pro bono. The posters will contain a chip and encourage people to swipe their smartphone, which will then take them to the online warning message at

Many Australian Drug Users are Educated and Well-off

Dr Adam Winstock, a Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist and researcher based in London is the founder of the Global Drug Survey, an independent organisation collecting worldwide data on the use of both illicit and controlled drugs. Recent results from Australia show that many of our drug users are educated and well-off. 

Read more of this story from the Sydney Morning Herald

Australia's Missing Psychedelic Science

There’s a general reluctance among Australian researchers to explore the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. This might be partly attributed to the illicit status of the drugs, which, some suggest, has created a bureaucratic impediment to medical progress.
Read more of this article by Martin Williams & Stephen Bright, published in The Conversation on 29 August 2013.

Australian MDMA-PTSD Clinical Trial Update

PRISM continues to work towards establishing our first clinical trial, a study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in war veterans, in collaboration with our colleagues at MAPS (USA).

Our first attempt at gaining approval from a Human Research Ethics Committee in February 2012 was unsuccessful, largely due to the absence of an experienced researcher on our study team. The controversial nature of MDMA as a Schedule 9 (illicit) drug has proved a barrier to gaining cooperation from an established institution such as a hospital or university, or from Australia's leading PTSD researchers. Consequently we're aiming to conduct an independent study and our current focus is on finding an experienced researcher (ideally a medical doctor) to lead our team. 

PRISM is a non-profit organisation and our MDMA-PTSD study will be funded entirely by donations. A further $250,000 is required to complete this clinical trial.

If you or someone you know is interested in talking to us, please make contact via our website.

Read more about our proposed MDMA-PTSD study in this media report from November 2012: 
Ecstasy used to treat war veterans in new research

APSAD 2013 
Beyond Harm Reduction: Acknowledging Psychoactive Benefits
PRISM will be presenting a panel discussion at the 2013 Australian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs Scientific Conference in Brisbane. Our presentation, titled Beyond Harm Reduction: Acknowledging Psychoactive Benefits, will be chaired by Professor David Nutt (UK) and will feature short talks on the following topics and a subsequent panel discussion:
  • A review of currently prohibited drugs as psychoactive medicines
  • Substantial spirits: Exemptions for the religious use of psychoactive plants and substances in Australia
  • Considering the recreational benefits of currently prohibited drugs
The APSAD Conference’s focus is on drug problems, so our presentation is an unusual opportunity to provide a different and positive perspective.
With your help, PRISM is raising $1500 to cover attendance at APSAD 2013. Help us make a difference: If you can spare $10 click here to make a tax-deductible donation.
Thank you to our generous donors:
Danielle Kelly
Rohan Mitchell
Torsten Wiedemann
Dr Sean Leneghan
Goran Spoljaric
Damien Bezborodov
Nigel Prem
The Happy Herb Shop Darwin
Lost Tribes
Dr Martin Williams
Stephen Bright
Steve McDonald
Stephanie Barlow
Dr Peter Farnbach
Anonymous friends

Steve Cornell
Richard Baron
Anacacia Burke
Chid Gilovitz
Dr Sebastian Job
S. Wawrzyczek
Pat Mader
Simon Green
Billy Lawrence
Dr Monica Barratt
Martin Deering
Lee Gefen
Alex Gearin
Maycol Sage
Simon Ward
Jacob Rogers
Valeria Volpato

Donate to PRISM
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