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IACM-Bulletin of 11 November 2001

IACM: 2001 Conference on Cannabis and the Cannabinoids

On 26-27 October the IACM hold its first international conference on cannabis and the cannabinoids in cooperation with the Berlin Medical Association and the Charité at the Virchow Clinic of the Berlin Charité with about 80 participants from 10 countries.

About 35 speakers contributed to the lecture sessions and/or the workshops on Sepsis/circulation, Politics, Appetite loss/nausea/antiemesis, Dependency/addiction, Pain, and Neurology. Participants enjoyed sharing first hand information on new research results and exchanging ideas.

The 38-page volume of abstracts containing most of the talks (Rik Musty, Jens A. Wagner, Margret R. Höhe, Bela Szabo, Joerg Fachner, Ester Fride, Donald I. Abrams, Karen J Berkley, Ciaran M Brady, Ulrike Hagenbach, Andreas M. Stadelmann, Eberhard Schlicker, Myra Klee, Franjo Grotenhermen, Kirsten Mueller-Vahl, Rudolf Brenneisen, Clare Hodges, Florian Strasser, Thomas M. Tzschentke, Tod Mikuriya, and Derik Hermann) is available by sending a bank note of 10 US dollars or 20 German Marks to the IACM requesting the volume of abstracts. There is only an English version available. Abstracts will also be reprinted in the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics.

On 27 October there was a parallel event for the public at the Berlin Medical Association with 12 review lectures on the medical use of cannabis products and their possible side effects.

IACM: New members of the Board of Directors and the Patient Representative

Dr. Ethan Russo (USA), Dr. William Notcutt (UK), and Dr. Ricardo Navarrate-Varo (Spain) have been elected as new members of the Board of Directors at the General Meeting of the IACM on 25 October in Berlin.

Before, the number of the Board of Directors had been increased from a current maximum of seven to a maximum of ten members. The current board members Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen (Germany, Chairman), Dr. Kirsten Müller-Vahl (Germany), Dr. Martin Schnelle (Germany), Dr. Ulrike Hagenbach (Switzerland) and Dr. Kurt Blaas (Austria) were confirmed.

Clare Hodges, Chair of the UK Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics, was elected as the first member of the Patient Representative, that may comprise a maximum of two members.

The membership fee for regular members was slightly increased, from 60 to 75 EURos/US-Dollars, so that regular membership will now include a subscription to the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics.

(Source: Minutes of the IACM General Meeting on the 25th of October 2001)

USA: Drug Enforcement Administration raids Californian medical cannabis club

Drug Enforcement Administration agents searched the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center (LARC) on 25 October, seizing computers, financial documents, 400 marijuana plants and medical records of some 3,000 current and former patients. The centre, which has been open since 1996, provides marijuana to patients suffering from AIDS, epilepsy, glaucoma, cancer and other serious illnesses.

At a press conference on 26 October with Scott Imler, president of the LARC, members of the West Hollywood City Council and a representative of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Councilman John Duran said: "Our city is going to stand with our residents and this club. These people will be forced once again into the streets to deal with drug dealers."

In the following days others shut their club down themselves. The owners of the club 'Cannabis Healing Californians' said they think the Drug Enforcement Administration raid of the LARC is the opening shot in a large-scale attack on the medical use of marijuana by the Bush administration. "They have completely destroyed the legal medical marijuana market in Los Angeles," Dr. Dale Gieringer of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws said.

On 5 November District Attorney Terence Hallinan asked the Drug Enforcement Administration to rethink its campaign against the clubs and "to respect our city's approach to medical marijuana, which has reduced crime, saved money and contributed to public well-being."

(Sources: Associated Press of 26 October and 7 November 2001, Los Angeles Independent of 3 November 2001, San Francisco Bay Guardian of 6 November 2001)

UK: Cannabis laws to be eased

Home Secretary David Blunkett announced on 23 October he wants the laws covering cannabis to be eased so possession will no longer be an arrestable offence. The drug would remain illegal but be re-classified from a class 'B' to a class 'C' drug.

The aim is to free police to concentrate on harder drugs and improve current legislation. In a parallel move, licensing of cannabis derivatives for medical use will be given government backing if current trials prove successful. Cannabis possession and supply would remain a criminal offence, attracting maximum sentences of five years for supply and two years for possession. But rather than arresting people caught with cannabis, police will be more likely to issue a warning.

Present classes:
Class A. Heroin, cocaine, Ecstasy, LSD.
Class B. Amphetamines, cannabis.
Class C. Anabolic steroids, benzodiazepines.

According to a poll carried out by Mori for the News of the World following Blunkett's announcement a majority of Britains believe cannabis should be legal and sold under licence in a similar way to alcohol. Some 65% of those questioned agreed it should be legalised and 91% said it should be available on prescription from doctors.

In a debate in the House of Commons on 9 November several speakers welcomed the move by the Home Secretary but urged the government to go further.

(Sources: The Times of 24 October 2001, BBC News of 23 October 2001, PA News of 28 October and 9 November 2001)

News in brief

Science: Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics
A PDF file of a free sample copy of the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics is now available online on the web site of the IACM at
www.cannabis-med.org/science-international/JCANT.htm

USA: Arkansas
The majority of Arkansans surveyed in a new poll favour the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes, if its use is directed by a doctor. The third annual Arkansas Poll found that 63 percent of 767 state residents, questioned in a telephone survey, supported legal medicinal access to cannabis. (Source: ASCRIBE NEWS via COMTEX of 25 October 2001)

USA: Nevada
State officials of Nevada said they are unaware of any moves by the Federal Justice Department against Nevada's medical marijuana program that began on 1 October. Nevada's law is different to that in California and would less likely provoke similar action. (Source: Associated Press of 1 November 2001)

Canada: Cannabis Bill
According to member of parliament Keith Martin a majority of federal politicians support his bill calling for the decriminalisation of marijuana. Bill C-344 would impose a system of fines - up to $1,000 - rather than criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis. (Source: Globe and Mail of 8 November 2001)

Spain: Study with dronabinol
The Health Minister announced on 24 October that it had approved two clinical phase III trials with cannabinoids. One will investigate the effect of the natural cannabinoid THC (dronabinol) in patients with glioblastoma, a type of aggressive brain tumour. The other will investigate the effect of the non-psychotropic synthetic cannabinoid dexanabinol in serious head trauma. (Source: El País of 25 October 2001)

Canada: First cannabis teahouse
On 31 October the first cannabis teahouse opened in Canada. The HC Marijuana Users Teahouse of Canada, located in Vancouver, takes advantage of regulations that allow the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. The central area of the teahouse, with tables and barstools, accommodates about 100 people. At the back, there is a separate room for those permitted to use cannabis medicinally. (Source: Globe and Mail of 1 November 2001)

Science: Treatment of obesity
The fatty acid ethanolamide oleylethanolamide (OEA) seems to be involved in appetite regulation. While anandamide, another fatty acid ethanolamide, induces increased appetite, OEA reduced appetite and body weight in rats, Dr. Daniele Piomelli, professor at the University of California in Irvine, and his colleagues wrote in the recent issue of Nature. (Source: ASCRIBE NEWS via COMTEX of 7 November 2001)

Science: Cancer
Treatment of a cancer cell line of rats with the anandamide analogue Met-F-AEA resulted in a drastic reduction of tumour volume. This reduction was accompanied by a strong reduction of K-Ras activity. Ras proteins (H-Ras, N-Ras, K-Ras) play an important role in signal transduction pathways leading to cell proliferation or death. (Source: Bifulco M, et al. FASEB, published online on 29 October 2001).

Science: Cognitive performance I
Three groups of individuals aged 30 to 55 years were compared with regard to their cognitive abilities: 63 current heavy users of cannabis, 45 former heavy users, and 72 non-users. Results showed that some cognitive deficits appear detectable at least 7 days after discontinuation of heavy cannabis use. By day 28, however, there were virtually no significant differences among the groups on any of the test results. Thus, cannabis effects on cognition in heavy users appear to be reversible and related to recent cannabis exposure. (Source: Pope HG Jr,, et al. Arch Gen Psychiatry 2001 Oct;58(10):909-15)

Science: Cognitive performance II
Acute marijuana smoking produced minimal effects on complex cognitive task performance in experienced marijuana users who used an average of 24 cannabis cigarettes per week. (Source: Hart CL, et al. Neuropsychopharmacology 2001 Nov;25(5):757-65)

A glimpse @ the past

One year ago

Two years ago

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