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IACM-Bulletin of 13 May 2007

USA: Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives vote to make the state medical cannabis law permanent

The Rhode Island Senate passed a bill on 3 May that would make the state's medical cannabis law permanent. The bill passed with a margin of 28-5, wide enough to sustain a possible veto from Governor Donald Carcieri, who vetoed the original bill in 2005. Lawmakers of the House of Representatives passed an identical measure on 2 May by a similarly large margin (50-12).

Rhode Island became the eleventh state in the USA last year to begin a medical cannabis program. It expires on 30 June 2007 unless lawmakers renew it. Under the program, patients suffering from HIV or AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, severe nausea, seizures or other debilitating illnesses can get state permission to possess up to 12 cannabis plants and 2.5 ounces (1 ounce = about 28.5 grams) of cannabis in a usable form. Caregivers of patients may possess up to 5 ounces of cannabis. More than 250 patients and about the same number of caregivers are registered in the program.

Governor Carcieri hasn't decided whether he would veto the bill or let it become law without his signature, said his spokesman, Jeff Neal. If he vetoes the bill lawmakers of the Senate and the House of Representatives can overrule the veto by a three-fifths vote.

(Sources: Boston Globe of 3 May 2007, Pawtucket Times of 4 May 2007)

News in brief

Science: Schizophrenia
British scientists analysed symptoms of 757 subjects, who developed schizophrenia, of whom 182 (24 per cent) had used cannabis in the year prior to first presentation to a psychiatrist due to the disease. There were no significant differences in the symptoms between cannabis users and non-users that have been observed in some small studies. In addition, cannabis users who developed schizophrenia had no greater family history of schizophrenia. The authors concluded that this "argues against a distinct schizophrenia-like psychosis caused by cannabis." (Source: Boydell J, et al. Schizophr Res 2007 Apr 24; [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science: Pancreatitis
Researchers of the University of Heidelberg, Germany, found that patients with acute inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) showed elevated levels of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids in the pancreas. In studies with mice with pancreatitis a cannabinoid that as THC binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors reduced pain and inflammation of the disease. (Source: Michalski CW, et al. Gastroenterology 2007;132(5):1968-78.)

Science: THC in sweat
In a study with 11 daily cannabis users THC was detectable in the sweat of all subjects above a concentration of 1 ng/ml in the first week after abstinence. In the second week their sweat was positive in eight of eleven subjects and one participant produced THC positive sweat patches for four weeks after abstinence. Daily oral doses of up to 14.8 mg THC caused no positive sweat test above a concentration of 1 ng/ml. (Source: Huestis MA, et al. Forensic Sci Int 2007 May 2; [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science: Vomiting by cannabis
The article describes a case of vomiting caused by regular cannabis use. This rare condition is characterized by regular cannabis use, cyclic vomiting and compulsive bathing behaviours. (Source: Wallace D, et al. Australas Psychiatry 2007;15(2):156-8.)

Science: Schizophrenia and cognition
German researchers compared cognitive performance of 39 schizophrenic patients (19 cannabis-users and 20 non-users) and 39 healthy controls (18 cannabis-users, 21 non-users). On the whole, schizophrenic patients performed worse than healthy control subjects. Regular cannabis use prior to the first psychotic episode improved cognition in some tests. On the other hand, cannabis use deteriorated test performance in healthy controls, especially in cases when regular consumption started before the age of 17. (Source: Jockers-Scherubl MC, et al. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2007 Mar 16; [Electronic publication ahead of print])

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