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IACM-Bulletin of 28 April 2002

Canada: No medical cannabis from the government

Health Minister Anne McLellan said she will not release any of the marijuana being grown for the government to distribute to sick patients until it has been tested in clinical trials, her spokeswoman said on 22 April.

This statement suggests that the cannabis, being grown in an old mine in Manitoba, will not be made available to patients for several years, if ever. The clinical studies have not started, yet, and will need years. When former Health Minister Allan Rock announced the cannabis-growing contract in July 2001, he said some would be used for research and some could be given to patients who qualified because they were severely ill or dying.

Rock had invited doctors to sign certificates that their patients needed marijuana, which brought protests from some medical groups. But several doctors have signed the documents and as of 2 April Health Canada had issued 205 authorizations for possession of cannabis. Those authorized patients now have no choice but to grow their own cannabis, or get someone to grow it for them, with no legal source of seeds.

On 23 April a Quebec judge said that laws banning the sale of marijuana to sick people who have been granted permission to use the drug are unconstitutional. Judge Gilles Cadieux said that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the right to liberty and security of the person, including the use of cannabis by patients who have been granted a medical exemption.

(Sources: Canadian Press of 22 and 23 April 2002, Edmonton Sun of 23 April 2002)

USA: Study with smoked cannabis in neuropathy of AIDS patients started

A study with smoked cannabis in neuropathy (nerve pain) associated with AIDS started at the University of California in San Francisco, let by Dr. Donald Abrams. The three year $956,000 state-funded study is under the aegis of the university's Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research. This center was established by a 1999 state law.

Study participants are experienced marijuana smokers, who did not smoke 30 days before study entry. "We want to know people know how to inhale - and know ... what it's like to be stoned, so they don't freak out and sue us," Abrams said.

The study is starting as a pilot study with 16 volunteers. The first of them started on 27 March. Each participant will stay in the hospital for nine days, smoking marijuana three times a day on seven of those days. If all goes well with the pilot study, a bigger study involving up to 100 subjects will follow. The study is double-blinded and uses THC free cannabis cigarettes as placebos.

(Source: The Augusta Chronicle of 13 April 2002)

Canada: U.S. citizens and medical marijuana users who fled to Canada arrested

Canadian immigration authorities arrested Kenneth E. Hayes on 18 April, and Steve Tuck and Steve Kubby on 16 April. All three face deportation hearings. All have said they would seek political refugee status in Canada if the United States asked for their extradition, or if Canada attempted to deport them.

The charges are "specifically having to do with having criminal convictions in the United States," said Angela Battiston, a Canadian immigration spokeswoman. None of them deny growing or smoking cannabis but they say it's for medical reasons, which is allowed under Proposition 215, a state law approved by California voters in 1996.

U.S. officials applauded the action. "It's unfortunate that many people are viewing Canada as a haven to avoid U.S. justice," said Richard Meyer, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman.

(Source: The Press Democrat of 21 April 2002)

News in brief

Science: CBD against nausea
In a rat model of nausea cannabidiol (CBD) and its synthetic dimethylheptyl homolog were effective against nausea. Thus, cannabinoids without psychoactive side-effects may have therapeutic value in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea. (Source: Parker LA, et al. Neuroreport 2002 Apr 16;13(5):567-70)

USA: California
The city council of Berkeley passed a resolution on 23 April affirming the city's support for medical marijuana. The council directed the Berkeley Police Department not to cooperate with the Drug Enforcement Administration in investigations of medical marijuana clubs. (Source: Daily Californian of 25 April 2002)

Science: Psychosis
In a Spanish study patients with cannabis-induced psychosis and acute schizophrenia shared several features but differed in others. The authors concluded that the continuous heavy use of cannabis can induce a psychotic disorder distinct from acute schizophrenia. (Source: Nunez LA, Gurpegui M. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2002 Mar;105(3):173-178)

USA: NORML Conference
About 550 people participated in the annual national conference of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in San Francisco, the largest in the organization's 32-year history. Among the speaker were San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan, California State Senator John Vasconcellos, Jack Herer, Dr. Tom Ungerleider, Dr. John P. Morgan, and Barbara Ehrenreich. (Source: NORML of 26 April 2002)

A glimpse @ the past

One year ago

Two years ago

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