When Psychiatrists Fought Like Hell to Keep MDMA Legal
Jacqueline Ronson delves into the backstory of the fight by psychiatrists to keep MDMA legal for therapeutic use. In an oral history by one of the movement's main proponents, Rick Doblin fought – and continues to fight – the DEA's Schedule 1 status;This article originally appeared on Inverse
It was July 1984, and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration didn’t expect any resistance when it announced it intended to make MDMA a Schedule I controlled substance — the most restricted category of illicit drug.
But while the agency was caught off guard, its opponents were not. For years, a community of psychiatrists, therapists, and activists had been quietly preparing for battle, gathering the evidence they would need to make the case that 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine is relatively safe and holds significant therapeutic potential. No one predicted how close the small band of advocates would come to toppling the administrative Goliath they were up against.
The following spring, a parade of doctors and researchers gave testimony in front of an administrative law judge, urging him to advise the DEA to place MDMA in a less restrictive class of drugs, or avoid scheduling it altogether. “There were hundreds of psychiatrists and psychotherapists that were using it informally, and they were using it for all sorts of things in private settings,” Rick Doblin tells Inverse. “It was being used for PTSD, it was being used for couples’ therapy, it was being used for personal growth, it was being used for spirituality.”
Read the full history of psychiatry's fight for MDMA by Jacqueline Ronson at Inverse