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IACM-Bulletin of 21 August 2005

USA: Oregon legislature raises the amount of cannabis that patients may possess

The lawmakers of Oregon passed a bill that would amend the state's medical cannabis law. The original law dates from 1998 and was passed by 55 percent of state voters. According to the website of the Oregon Department of Human Services about 11,000 citizens of Oregon are currently registered medical cannabis patients with an identification card (www.dhs.state.or.us/publichealth/mm/data.cfm).

The amendment raises the quantity of cannabis that authorized patients may possess from seven plants (with no more than three mature) and three ounces of cannabis (one ounce is about 28.5 grams) to six mature cannabis plants, 18 immature seedlings, and 24 ounces of usable cannabis. However, those state-qualified patients who possess cannabis in amounts exceeding the new state guidelines will no longer retain the ability to argue an "affirmative defence" of medical necessity at trial. Patients who fail to register with the state, but who possess medical cannabis in amounts compliant with state law, still retain the ability to raise an "affirmative defence" at trial. The law change also establishes a state -registry for those authorized to produce medical cannabis to qualified patients. The law has still to be signed by the governor.

(Sources: NORML of 18 August 2005, Oregon Daily Emerald of 4 August 2005)

News in brief

Germany: Cannabis pharmacy
A new web site is intended to help severely ill patients, who profit from cannabis, to get free access to cannabis products. According to the principles a treatment with cannabis products has to be "really indicated and urgently necessary", while a treatment with dronabinol (THC) is not possible, for example because the health insurance does not cover the costs. The Cannabis Pharmacy is looking for donors who are willing to send cannabis to these patients, anonymously and for free. Among the members of a solidarity committee are Dr Franjo Grotenhermen of the nova-institute, Dr Martin Schnelle of the Institute for Clinical Research, and Dr Lorenz Boellinger, professor of law at the University of Bremen. (Source: www.hanfapotheke.org)

Science: Cannabis and driving
Canadian researchers of the University of Victoria investigated the question whether clients in treatment for problems related to the use of alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, or various combinations of these substances, had a higher risk to drive while impaired compared to a control group. 445 drivers under treatment were included. In the 8 years before treatment, every drug group except the "cannabis only" group had significantly more convictions for driving while impaired than controls. (Source: Macdonald S, et al. Traffic Inj Prev 2005;6(3):207-11.)

Science: Neuropathic pain
British researchers of the pharmaceutical company Novartis demonstrated that peripheral nerve injury induces the expression of CB2 receptors in sensory nerves of the rat. CB2 receptors are not found in the spinal cord or the dorsal root ganglia of rats and mice. However, CB2 receptors were detected in certain parts of the spinal cord after section of the sciatic nerve. There was also an accumulation of CB2 receptors on the nerve. This "suggests an additional cellular target for CB(2) agonist induced
analgesia, at least in neuropathic models," the authors write. (Source: Wotherspoon G, et al. Neuroscience 2005 Aug 4; [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science: Liver-induced damage to the brain
Israelian researchers investigated the role of the cannabinoid system in so-called hepatic encephalopathy, a neuropsychiatric syndrome due to liver disease. In mice with hepatic encephalopathy the levels of the endocannabinoid 2-AG were elevated in the brain. Treatment with 2-AG, a CB1 receptor antagonist (SR141716A) or a CB2 receptor agonist improved the condition, with a better neurological score and better cognitive function. (Source: Avraham Y, et al. Neurobiol Dis 2005 Aug 12; [Electronic publication ahead of print])

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