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IACM-Bulletin of 08 July 2007

Science: THC and cannabis cause an increase in caloric intake and body weight in HIV-positive cannabis users

According to a clinical study at the New York State Psychiatric Institute with 10 HIV-positive cannabis users THC (dronabinol) and cannabis dose-dependently increased daily caloric intake and body weight. All patients completed two 16-day phases at the institute. All received THC capsules (5 and 10 mg) and cannabis cigarettes (2 per cent and 3.9 per cent THC) 4 times daily for 4 days. Only one drug was active per day. All active phases were separated by 4 days of placebo administration. Cognitive performance were measured using a task battery measuring various aspects of learning, memory, vigilance and psychomotor ability.

Caloric intake was mainly increased by increasing the number of eating occasions. Increase of body weight within 4 days was significant for the higher strength cannabis (four times 3.9 per cent THC) and the higher dose of oral THC (four times 10 mg) with 1.2 kg on THC and 1.1 kg on cannabis. THC and cannabis produced significant psychic effects, except for low-dose THC (5 mg). These effects were rated positively with little evidence of discomfort and no impairment of cognitive performance. Effects of cannabis cigarettes and oral THC were comparable, except that only cannabis (3.9 per cent THC) improved sleep. Researchers concluded that both oral THC and smoked cannabis "were well tolerated and produced substantial and comparable increases in food intake."

(Source: Haney M, Gunderson EW, Rabkin J, Hart CL, Vosburg SK, Comer SD, Foltin RW. Dronabinol and marijuana in HIV-positive marijuana smokers: caloric intake, mood, and sleep. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 2007 Jun 21; [Electronic publication ahead of print])

News in brief

USA: Rhode Island
Rhode Island lawmakers voted on 21 June to make permanent the medical cannabis law. The House of Representatives and the Senate easily mustered the three-fifths majority needed to override Governor Don Carcieri's veto. The program, which would have expired June 30, allows patients with cancer, AIDS and other debilitating illnesses to possess up to 12 cannabis plants and 2.5 ounces (about 70 grams) of the usable drug to ease their symptoms. (Source: Associated Press of 21 June 2007)

USA: New Mexico
Since 1 July the medical cannabis program is effective. Certified patients may possess up to six ounces of cannabis, four mature plants and three immature seedlings, which is enough for three months according to the Department of Health. The law also requires New Mexico to oversee a production and distribution system for the drug. The state Department of Health must issue rules by 1 October for the licensing of cannabis producers and in-state, secured facilities, and for developing a distribution system. New Mexico is the only state to create such a production system. This may cause problems since federal law does not allow the production and distribution of cannabis. (Source: Associated Press of 30 June 2007)

Science: Pain
By using a combination of low doses of morphine and THC the development of tolerance to these drugs may be prevented according to a study with rats. (Source: Smith PA, et al. EUR J Pharmacol 2007 Jun 12; [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science: Cancer
British researchers demonstrated that THC induced apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells of tumours of the colon. They concluded that the use of THC may represent a novel strategy for the therapy of cancer of the colon. (Source: Greenhough A, et al. Int J Cancer 2007 Jun 21; [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Canada: Medical cannabis
Health Canada has been contacting doctors who prescribe medical cannabis for their government-approved patients, advising them to keep the dosages low. The press agency Canadian Press cites the case of a patient with severe arthritis, who recently applied to Health Canada to increase the daily dose to 10 grams, with his doctor's authorization. A representative of the cannabis program called the patient's doctor by telephone, saying most patients need no more than five grams. More at: www.940news.com/nouvelles.php?cat=23&id=61602 (Source: Canadian Press of 19 June 2007)

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