Two organizations that specialize in psychedelic research and outreach have been awarded $82,765.95 each, Reddit announced Thursday. Erowid Center and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies [MAPS], were two of 10 charities voted by Reddit users to receive a donation from the site’s profits.
Erowid Center is an online library providing information about psychoactive substances and how they are used around the world. They present research on plants, chemicals and other topics, striving to be a non-biased source of information to counterbalance reactionary and negative media portrayals of psychedelics.
MAPS performs research and education geared toward developing psychedelics and marijuana into prescription medicines. The group also trains therapists and educates the public on the benefits of psychedelic substances.
The award money is a welcome windfall to support the organizations’ missions to present and discover honest information about psychedelics and their benefits. Recent research has shown that various psychoactive substances can have therapeutic effects on people suffering from addiction, depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders. Unfortunately, most psychedelics, including LSD, psilocybin, mescalin and DMT, are designated as Schedule I controlled substances by the federal government, and are by definition considered drugs of abuse with no medical use. The prohibition sharply limits the ability of scientists to conduct research at all, let alone receive funding, so organizations that do work in the psychedelic realm need all the help they can get.
“We’re very excited and thankful that people recognize the value of Erowid’s mission to provide free harm reduction information and education about psychoactive drugs,” Erowid Center co-founders Earth & Fire said to Reset. “Working in a controversial field puts us outside of many of the standard nonprofit grant and funding spheres, so opportunities like this are important and unusual for us.”
Erowid said they will use the money to continue overhauling their website to make it more user-friendly, and to hire a volunteer manager. “As anyone who works with volunteers knows, they need training and project management,” the co-founders said. “Lack of funding has hindered us in this realm for the last couple of years and we’re excited to be able to start engaging more in the near future with the skilled and motivated people who volunteer their help with everything from tech support to toxicology knowledge.”
The Center also plans on putting some of the money toward their Shulgin Collection project to archive and publish the papers, lab books and other materials of pioneering psychopharmacologist Dr. Alexander Shulgin.
MAPS responded to the award on Twitter: “.@reddit, thank you for the donation of $82,765 to support our psychedelic & marijuana research! We appreciate your support of non-profits.”
The group recently announced the formation of a public benefit corporation primarily aimed at completing research that could win approval to use MDMA as a treatment for PTSD. The organization says it hopes for FDA approval by 2021.
The awards came as a surprise when last week Reddit, the social networking service that brands itself as “the front page of the internet” announced it would be giving away 10 percent of its 2014 advertising revenue, split between 10 organizations chosen by a vote of the site’s users. Reddit revealed that it earned $8,276,594.93 in ad revenue last year, resulting in over $80,000 for each winner.
Voters applauded Thursday’s announcement that Erowid and MAPS would get a slice of the money, and hailed it as an endorsement for the wider psychedelic community. “Here’s to a bright future of research for something that can change the future of mankind for the better,” Reddit user Chispy said of the awards.
“This really says something, that such a big medium of the internet supports psychedelics like this makes the future look promising,” user Frogtech added.
Other winners of the Reddit award include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Doctors Without Borders, USA, Wikimedia Foundation, NPR, Free Software Foundation, Freedom From Religion Foundation and Tor Project Inc.