SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – This year, five leading non-profits at the forefront of health and drug policy reform will benefit from a generous bequest of approximately $10 million from the estate of software pioneer Ashawna (Shawn) Hailey. The gift will dramatically increase these organizations’ ability to reform government policies and public attitudes about health and drug policy.
Half of the total bequest — approximately $5 million — will benefit the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a non-profit research and educational organization working with the FDA and international regulatory agencies to develop psychedelics and marijuana into prescription treatments for patients with unmet medical needs.
The gift will be the largest that MAPS has ever received and will support research into MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This treatment is currently in Phase 2 pilot studies and is showing very promising results.
MAPS is conducting an international series of Phase 2 pilot studies into MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These studies are laying the groundwork for two larger multi-site Phase 3 trials, required to show the FDA that MDMA is a safe and effective adjunct to psychotherapy for patients with PTSD.
The rest of Ashawna’s gift — about $1.25 million each — will support the efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Marijuana Policy Project, and Second Harvest Food Bank.
Ashawna’s generous bequest is one of only a small number of such gifts to the ACLU. “Her bequest puts a spotlight on our nation's punitive drug policies, which have failed to achieve public safety and health while putting unprecedented numbers of people behind bars and eroding constitutional rights,” said Vanita Gupta, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU.
The Drug Policy Alliance will use Ashawna’s gift to strengthen its movement-building efforts. “Ashawna was generous to DPA in her lifetime and beyond because she wanted to build the strongest movement possible to end the drug war and replace it with policies that promote her values of freedom and compassion,” said Ethan Nadelmann, DPA’s executive director. “We’re honored by this bequest, and we will use it to sustain and strengthen the aspects of the movement that were important to her.”
"Our budget this year is only $5 million, so this bequest is turbocharging our efforts to end marijuana prohibition in the United States," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "In fact, Ashawna will likely be our biggest donor this year, and we'll be using half of her gift to pass the ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Colorado on November 6."
“This transformative gift from Ashawna will help to ensure that everyone in our community who needs a meal can get one,” said Kathy Jackson, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank. “She accomplished so much both in her professional life and through her philanthropy, and we are honored that she put her trust in Second Harvest Food Bank with this legacy gift.”
Hailey died on October 14, 2011, in her San Jose, Calif., home at the age of 62. She passed peacefully and is survived by her children Neal and Nora, and by her twin brother Kim.
After graduating from Texas Tech University in 1970, Shawn designed the launch sequencer for the Sprint Antiballistic Missile System for the Martin Marietta Corporation and in 1974 designed the 9080 microprocessor for AMD. Shawn and Kim co-founded Meta-Software Corp. in 1979 and their HSPICE program remains the gold standard circuit simulator for the electronic design industry.
MAPS is hosting a free lecture and discussion on Thursday, May 31, at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center about current research on MDMA as an adjunct to psychotherapy for PTSD. The event will include an acknowledgment of the impact of Hailey’s bequest on scientific research, health services, and drug policy reform. More information about the event:http://www.mdmaptsd.org/may31.