What’s Happening at Psychedelic Science 2017

Patrick Smith · April 14th, 2017

This month, MAPS hosts their third International Psychedelic Science Conference in Oakland, California. This event has always been a highlight in our calendar, bringing together all the brightest minds and biggest characters in the psychedelic community.

This year, as well as music, comedy and workshop events, a huge range of research will be presented to the delegates. From meditation to biochemistry, almost every topic imaginable is covered by the extensive range of experts and scientists. Here are some things that we’re most looking forward to hearing about:

The conference opens with plenaries from Stanislav Grof, Rick Doblin, Amanda Fielding, David Nutt and many others. We can’t wait to hear their perspectives on the recent developments in psychedelic research and our future directions. Rick Doblin himself has stated that all the talks will be available online after the conference – we’ll be sharing them on our social media!

Hundreds of other pioneering researchers will be sharing their work at the conference. Some of the most well-publicized research will be presented by the Mithoefers – who are leading MAPS’ research into MDMA treatment for PTSD, which is currently in phase 2 clinical trials.

One study that we’re really excited about is the NYU clinical trial on psilocybin experiences in religious leaders. Many of us are interested in the spiritual experience that high doses of psychedelics can produce – will high-profile spiritual practitioners consider the experience genuine? Anthony Bossis will present more details on the study and let us know a little bit more about what we might expect from the results.

We’ll also be looking forward to hearing a lot about meditation; namely Frederick Barrett’s Psilocybin and Meditation study, that aims to uncover the neurocognitive link between psychedelics and meditation. Nicely complementing this research will be a talk by Zen Buddhist priest Vanja Palmers, who despite three decades of psychedelic abstinence, will discuss how the future of meditation and psychedelics are linked.

Darrick May will be talking about bad trips – as a core goal of the conference is to address all potential risks of the psychedelic experience. We know that sometimes bad trips can be very meaningful and often healing, but they can also produce trauma and physical danger.

In a slightly different tone, Kevin Franciotti will be talking about his work in using psychedelics to treat psychotic disorders. This is especially interesting as the standard line in the psychedelic community reads: “If you have psychosis, avoid psychedelics.” However, there is very little evidence to suggest that psychedelics exacerbate psychosis. These results could be a big step forward in our understanding.

The placebo problem is a big issue for psychedelic researchers. Skeptics will always complain that participants in psychedelic trials will always know whether they’ve taken the drug or not. How can we counter this criticism? Katherine Hendy will be talking about the ‘placebo paradox’ and how we can fuse the psychedelic experience with investigational science.

The “Plant Medicine” track of the conference holds an impressive range of knowledge. There are talks on peyote, ibogaine, ayahuasca, salvia, marijuana, kratom and psilocybin mushrooms. Talks focus on treatment of disorders, but also delve into spirituality and the acceptance of plant medicines into modern culture.

The talk we’re most looking forward to, however, is James Fadiman’s. This is the person who first introduced microdosing to the psychedelic community, and this year he will be presenting the results of his group’s research on the benefits of microdosing. His research team, led by Dr Sophia Korb, has gathered accounts from hundreds of microdosers who followed Fadiman’s established protocol. He reports that the results are “surprising and unexpected…” and we can’t wait to hear about them!

James Fadiman’s presentation will be livestreamed, on Friday April 21st, 15:00 PST, right here.

If you want to keep up to date with what’s happening during the conference, follow MAPS on twitter. We’ll also be there, so keep an eye on Third Wave twitter and facebook accounts. If you’ll be attending the conference, let us know – we’d love to arrange a meetup!

Reader Interactions


  1. AvatarDave says

    I would like to establish contact with people who have experience taking psilocybin mushrooms in Brooklyn, NY, particularly those involved in community exploration of effects and impacts of using them. I have never used them, but would very much like to and want to make use of experience others may have.

  2. AvatarDallas says

    Thanks to both McKennas I have developed a fascination with the psychedelic experience.
    I have never had one.
    Psilocybin and DMT I want to explore.
    Can anyone point me in the right direction for learning how to start?

    • AvatarHaya says

      Hello, this is definitely a good place to start!

      Our website provides a plethora of information for the novice psychonaut, some books that we would recommend are James Fadiman’s The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, and Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind.

      Just a disclaimer: we do not encourage or condone the use of illicit substances, we do our best to provide the most accurate information available on psychedelics. Our mission is to change the way in which mainstream culture perceives psychedelic substances.
      Due to legal reasons, we cannot allow any information that pertains to sourcing any illegal substance.

    • AvatarHaya says

      Unfortunately, due to the legal status of psychedelics, it is not possible to find a therapist who will provide you with the material to microdose. However, there are a number of psychologists/psychotherapists who do offer psychedelic integrative psychotherapy. That means that they provide support for individuals who have or are currently using psychedelics. One resource in NYC is the Center for Optimal Living – they have a psychedelic program which you might find helpful. MAPS also has a list of integrative therapists , they currently have 6 listed for New York. Best of luck on your quest!

  3. AvatarDOSINGmicro says

    I still find this page to be one of the most useful on the internet, even two years later! Thanks again for this fantastic resource. You guys have gone above and beyond spreading awareness for psychedelics and their place in modern society. Thanks

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