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IACM-Bulletin of 28 February 2010

Science/USA: Report on research at the Californian Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research provides further evidence for the medicinal benefits of cannabis

The first U.S. clinical trials in more than two decades on the medical benefits of cannabis confirm the drug is effective in reducing muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and pain of different origin, according to a report issued on 17 February. Dr. Igor Grant, a psychiatrist who directs the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego, said five studies funded by the state involved volunteers who were randomly given real cannabis or placebos to determine if the herb provided relief not seen from traditional medicines.

"There is good evidence now that cannabinoids may be either an adjunct or a first-line treatment," Grant said at a news conference where he presented the findings. The California Legislature established the research centre in 2000 to examine whether the therapeutic claims of medical cannabis advocates could withstand scientific scrutiny. In 1996, state voters became the first in the country to pass a law approving cannabis use for medical purposes. Thirteen other states have followed suit, but California is the only one so far to sponsor medical cannabis research. After 10 years and nearly 9 million US Dollars (about 6.6 million EURos), the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research is preparing to finish its work next year. Along with the studies on muscle spasms and pain associated with spinal cord injuries and AIDS, the centre also has funded research on how marijuana affects sleep and driving, limb pain due to diabetes, and whether inhaling vaporized cannabis is as effective as smoking it.

The report is available at:

More at:
- hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_MARIJUANA_RESEARCH?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=news_generic.htm
- www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/02/18/MNRF1C3964.DTL
- www.upi.com/Health_News/2010/02/18/Studies-Pot-good-for-some-types-of-pain/UPI-60541266552210/

(Sources: Associated Press of 17 February 2010, UPI of 18 February 2010, San Francisco Chronicle of 18 February 2010)

IACM: Preliminary investigation against Franjo Grotenhermen closed

In a letter to Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen, Executive Director of the IACM, of 5 February, which reached his lawyer in mid-February, the Public Prosecutor of Hamburg informed him that the preliminary investigation against him was closed. There was no hint of any criminal activity. With the exception of a police questioning of one ACM member from Hamburg no other member of the ACM or IACM was bothered by the police. "I'm happy that the house search had no legal consequences for patients within the ACM or IACM and that also in the future no member has to worry in this respect," Grotenhermen said.

On 17 March 2009 the local police had performed a house search at the office of the German Association for Cannabis as Medicine (ACM) and the private office of the chairman of the ACM, Dr. Grotenhermen, and seized files of the ACM and IACM. In addition, a copy of the computer's hard disk was taken. The house search had been carried out based on a warrant from the lower court of Hamburg on an application by the Office of the Public Prosecutor of Hamburg due to the suspicion of a violation of the narcotics law. The inquiry authorities hoped to find suggestions of criminal activities concerning the Cannabis Pharmacy (www.hanfapotheke.org).

(Source: Personal communication by Franjo Grotenhermen)

Italy: Judge orders free access to cannabis-based medicines by a multiple sclerosis sufferer

A court in Avezzano, a town in the Abruzzo region, province of L'Aquila, ruled on 2 February that a patient with multiple sclerosis should have free access to a treatment with a cannabis-based medicine produced outside Italy. Judge Elisabetta Pierazzi stated that other medicinal drugs had not been effective and that cannabis was the only medicine which reduces the symptoms of the patient. Her ruling was based on article 32 of the constitution, which asserts the right to health of the citizens. According to a newspaper article it is the first ruling of this kind in Italy.

It was noted that the patient had insufficient financial means to purchase the medicine and that there is an urgent need for the patient to receive the drug to avoid a deterioration of his health status. "I'm happy with my victory," the patient was cited. "This is a victory for all sick people forced to renounce the only remedy that can alleviate their suffering based on unreasonable bans that contradict fundamental human and civil rights."

More at:

(Source: Il Centro of 10 February 2010)

News in brief

USA: Montana
The number of medical cannabis patients in Montana increased by more than 600 percent in 2009. Between 2008 and 2009, the number of people seeking a legal registration to use cannabis for medicinal purposes increased from 830 to 6,069. That brings the total statewide to 7,339. (Source: Helena Independent Record of 14 February 2010)

Science: Nerve toxicity
According to research with mice at the University of Barcelona, Spain, THC reduces the damage to the nervous system caused by MDMA (ecstasy). Authors suggested that "these neuroprotective actions are primarily mediated by the reduction of hyperthermia through the activation of CB1 receptor, although CB2 receptors may also contribute to attenuate neuroinflammation in this process." (Source: Touriño C, et al. PLoS One 2010;5(2):e9143.)

Science: Human papillomavirus
According to a large epidemiological study in the USA the use of cannabis is not associated with the natural course of cervical human papillomavirus and cervical cancer in HIV positive and HIV negative women. Some of these virus types may cause malignancies, especially cervical cancer in women. The study included a large prospective cohort of 2,584 HIV-positive and 915 HIV-negative women. (Source: D'Souza G, et al. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2010 Feb 16. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science: Spinal cord injury
According to animal research by Spanish scientists the endocannabinoid 2-AG reduced nerve damage after spinal cord injury. This effect was mediated by both CB1 and CB2 receptors. Authors noted that the research suggests "that this endogenous cannabinoid may be useful as a protective treatment for acute SCI." (Source: Arevalo-Martin A, et al. Neurobiol Dis 2010 Feb 12. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science: Pain
Research at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy, supports the evidence that acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin) and cannabinoids act synergistically in pain reduction. Authors used the synthetic cannabinoid HU210. This interaction involved serotonin and cannabinoid receptors. They noted that "combinations of low doses of cannabinoids and NSAIDs may be of interest from the therapeutic point of view." (Source: Ruggieri V, et al. Life Sci 2010 Feb 12. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science: Cannabis cultivation
According to research at the University of Gent, Belgium, small-scale cannabis cultivation, for example home-grown cannabis, is an underresearched market segment compared to large-scale commercial cannabis cultivation. The author supports "greater toleration of small-scale cannabis cultivation, to secure the least worst of cannabis markets." (Source: Decorte T. Int J Drug Policy 2010 Feb 20. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science: Pain
According to animal research at the University of Arizona in Tucson, USA, a CB2 receptor agonist reduced cancer-induced pain and bone loss. (Source: Lozano A, et al. Life Sci 2010 Feb 19. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

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