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IACM-Bulletin of 14 October 2001

Germany: THC Pharm gets permission for the production of a cannabis extract

The Frankfurt firm THC Pharm got the approval from the authorities to produce a cannabis extract. The firm told the press that it wants to use plants from Central Asia, which are cultivated outdoors and not cloned.

Since a cannabis extract cannot be prescribed there is a need for a change in the narcotics act which is possible soonest at the end of 2002. Until then it is intended to develop a preparation.

Today THC Pharm derives dronabinol from fibre HEMP that can be used by pharmacies for the preparation of medicines. In November 2001 the Federal Association of German Pharmacists Societies will publish a monograph on dronabinol and instructions for the manufacturing of dronabinol capsules and OILy dronabinol drops.

Further German pharmaceutical firms, that are engaged in the development of cannabis preparations since this year are Merck and Bionorica.

(Sources: Press release of THC Pharm of 2 October 2001, personal communications)

USA: DEA defines all products that contain THC to be schedule I controlled substances

In a document published on 9 October in the Federal Register, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued an interpretive rule stating that under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and DEA regulations, any product that contains any amount of tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) is a schedule I controlled substance, even if such product is made from portions of the cannabis plant that are excluded from the CSA definition of "marihuana."

These regulations are intended to ban products from HEMP seed and HEMP seed OIL that contain minor amounts of THC.

In another document issued on 9 October, DEA is issuing interim rules. The document says: "Any person who, as of October 9, 2001, possesses a THC-containing HEMP product not exempted from control under this interim rule has until February 6, 2002 to dispose of such product in the manner described in this document."

(Sources: FedNet via COMTEX of 9 October 2001, www.nara.gov/fedreg/)

Spain: Elected president of the ICRS against medical use of marijuana

On the web site of the Spanish journal Muy Interessante Dr. José Javier Fernández, professor at the universities of Barcelona and Madrid and elected president of the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS), speaks out against the medical use of cannabis and in favour of synthetic cannabinoids.

Marijuana would often be smoked and mixed with tobacco. There were many substances in cannabis, about 60 different cannabinoids, other molecules and substances that are used for adulteration of the illegal drug. "This mixture does not seem recommendable for medical use." Single cannabinoids, such as the THC derivative nabilone would "optimise the forms of treatment by control of dose and duration that is not possible with marijuana." Therapeutic modulation of the endogenous cannabinoid system would be possible with synthetic cannabinoids, such as JWH133. "The future of cannabinoids consists in this type of individual substances ..."

Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen of nova Institute in Cologne, chairman of the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine, argued: "From clinical studies with single cannabinoids and whole plant preparations we have no scientific arguments that would exclude one or the other (single cannabinoids or cannabis) from therapeutic use. Most arguments that are used against the medical use of illegal cannabis are arguments against cannabis prohibition, since it is no problem to standardize cannabis, refrain from adulteration and use healthy ways of application. JWH133 is a CB2 receptor agonist and it is recommended to prefer a CB2 agonist over a CB1 agonist if the first is effective. However, it will be difficult to achieve therapeutic effects mediated by CB1 receptors of the brain without causing psychic effects. The attempt to separate desired and unwanted effects failed with opiates and other drugs acting on the central nervous system."

(Source: www.muyinteresante.es/canales/muy_act/set_pyc.htm)

News in brief

USA: DEA seizes patient files
The Drug Enforcement Administration agents on 28 September seized files that contain legal and medical records of more than 5,000 patients who use marijuana. Agents raided the home and office of Dr. Mollie Fry, a physician, and her husband, Dale Schafer, a lawyer. Fry and Schafer run the California Medical Research Center in Cool, California, a clinic specializing in medicinal marijuana. DEA spokesman Richard Meyer said the search warrant for the records was signed by a federal magistrate, but he would not discuss what narcotics agents were looking for. (Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune of 3 October 2001)

Germany: Certification for IACM-congress
The congress on cannabis and the cannabinoids of the IACM on 26-27 October in Berlin will be officially certified as a medical training seminar by the competent authority.

Science: Patients' attitudes
A self-completion questionnaire was used to investigate patients' beliefs about cannabinoids and the associations between those beliefs and their willingness to try cannabinoids as analgesics. 52% of patients were doubtful about taking cannabinoids: unwillingness was strongly associated with specific concerns about side effects, addiction, tolerance, and losing control. (Source: Gill A, Williams AC. Clin J Pain 2001 Sep;17(3):245-8)

Science: Alcohol and cannabis
In a study with human subjects ethanol increased THC blood levels and subjective effects after marihuana smoking. Data suggest that ethanol may increase the absorption of THC. (Source: Lukas SE, Orozco S. Drug Alcohol Depend 2001 Oct 1;64(2):143-9)

Science: HEMP seed OIL
Medical researchers of the University of Kuopio, Finland, investigated the effects of HEMP seed OIL on physical parameters in a double blind study with 14 subjects, who ingested either 30 ml HEMP seed OIL or linseed OIL for a period of four weeks. HEMP seed OIL resulted in statistically higher levels of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) in the serum triglycerides and in the cholesteryl esters. Both OILs showed statistically significant increases in blood levels of linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. Increased serum levels of GLA might help explain beneficial effects in some chronic diseases such as allergies and rheumatoid arthritis, Dr Jace Callaway, one of the principal investigators said. (Source: Press release of the University of Kuopio of 17. September 2001).

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