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IACM-Bulletin of 18 August 2002

Canada: Medical cannabis club of Toronto raided

Four people were arrested on 13 August after police raided the Toronto Compassion Centre which sold medical marijuana to more than 1,200 people. The four were charged with trafficking in a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

The club has been operating openly for more than four years. Clients required a letter of diagnosis from their doctor. Police did not say what motivated them to raid the centre. A constable said they were under orders from their superior officer not to discuss the case.

"We were under the impression that they weren't happy with what we were doing, but they were going to look the other way because they realized I wasn't selling it to kids," Warren Hitzig, the founder and former director of the centre and one of the arrested said after he was released on 14 August.

Hitzig is now banned from entering his former office. The centre's future remains unclear. One other Toronto medical cannabis club, CALM (Cannabis as Living Medicine), still exists.

(Sources: Toronto Star of 14 and 16 August 2002)

Science: News at the 2002 meeting of the ICRS (II)

Below are some more research results presented at the 12th Annual Symposium on the Cannabinoids of the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) from 10 to 14 July in the USA (California). (See also the last IACM-Bulletin.)

(1) Cognition: A meta-analysis of 39 studies was conducted to investigate whether regular cannabis use might have long-term consequences on the nervous system. Researchers concluded: "The studies that met our criteria yielded no basis for concluding that long-term cannabis consumption is associated with generalized neurocognitive decline, with the possible exception of slight decrements in the area of learning new information." (Abstract by Igor Grant et al.)

(2) Depression: In a mouse model of human depression the natural cannabinoid CBD but not THC showed similar antidepressant effects as a known antidepressant drug (imipramine). (Abstract by Richard Musty et al.)

(3) Inflammation: The cytokines interleukin-1-beta and tumour necrosis factor alpha contribute to the inflammation and the progression of joint destruction in arthritis. The cannabinoid ajulemic acid (CT3) reduced the level and secretion of interleukin-1-beta in human blood cells. without affecting the level of tumour necrosis factor alpha. (Abstract by Bonnie Bidinger et al.)

(4) Pregnancy: Children of 13 to 16 years whose mothers had used cannabis or tobacco during pregnancy were tested. Results showed that prenatal exposure to cannabis had no effect on global intelligence but was associated with reduced performance in tasks that required visual memory, analysis and integration of information. Prenatal tobacco exposure was associated with lower global intelligence and auditory memory. (Abstract by Peter Fried et al.)

(Source: Reader of the 2002 ICRS meeting. The 182 page reader with all abstracts is available for download at
www.cannabinoidsociety.org.)

Science: Cannabinoid receptor antagonist in obesity

A small phase II study by the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Synthelabo in obese people with the cannabinoid receptor antagonist SR141716 (Rimonabant) has just been completed. In the 16-week trial the highest dose group lost 4 kg of weight on average.

SR141716 blocks the CB1 receptor. This receptor is activated by THC resulting in increased appetite. Rimonabant caused some gastrointestinal side effects at the highest dose, but was generally well-tolerated, a Sanofi spokesman said.

In August 2001, the company initiated phase III trials of Rimonabant, studying 6,180 patients. The first study is a two-year North American trial of 2,800 patients comparing 5 milligram and 20 milligram doses of Rimonabant to placebo for weight reduction and prevention of weight regain. A similar study with 1,400-patients is conducted in EURope. Alongside these trials, Sanofi is running two other 990-person studies looking at the effects of the drug in patients with diabetes and lipid problems.

(Source: Associated Press of 14 August 2002)

News in brief

Canada: 800 Canadians allowed to use cannabis
Since 30 July 2001, when Health Canada introduced new access regulations allowing ill Canadians to use cannabis, 315 new patients have been granted authorization. That is about one every day. 472 people had already been granted exemption from criminal procedure under the precedent law. Thus, the total number of permitted marijuana users today is 786. Of those, 208 are growing their own plants with personal production licences. (Source: Calgary Sun of 3 August)

Science: Psychosis
A three-year longitudinal study of a general population of 4,045 psychosis-free persons and of 59 subjects with a diagnosis of psychotic disorder was conducted in the Netherlands. Cannabis use increased the risk of becoming psychotic within the studs period in psychosis-free persons and was associated with a poorer prognosis in persons with a psychotic disorder. (Source: Van Os J, et al. Am J Epidemiol 2002 Aug 15;156(4):319-27)

A glimpse @ the past

One year ago

Two years ago

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