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IACM-Bulletin of 25 April 2010

The Washington D.C. Council approved a measure that will make cannabis legal for medical use by the end of this year

Chronically ill residents of the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) will be able to buy government-sanctioned cannabis by the end of the year under a measure that was unanimously approved by the D.C. Council on 20 April. Without debate, the council authorized five medical cannabis distribution centres throughout the city, a number that could grow to eight in coming years. A patient who has HIV, glaucoma, cancer or a "chronic and lasting disease" will be able to receive a doctor's recommendation to possess up to 2 ounces (57 grams) of cannabis in a 30-day period.

Patients would not be allowed to grow cannabis but could buy it from dispensaries that are licensed and regulated by the Department of Health. Underprivileged residents who qualify will be eligible to purchase their cannabis free or at reduced cost. Advocates heralded the council vote as one of the final steps of a years-long struggle to act on a 1998 referendum in which 69 percent of residents voted for medical cannabis. But some advocates and cannabis growers say the District's law is destined to fail because it is too restrictive and, therefore, might not attract established growers who could meet the District's requirements. Congress will get 30 days to review the legislation before it becomes law.

More at:
www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/20/AR2010042004751.html

(Source: Washington Post of 21 April 2010)

News in brief

USA: Colorado
Medical cannabis dispensaries are springing up in Colorado's major cities. Denver has some 250 dispensary storefronts and Boulder has more than 100. So far, the state has issued more than 66,000 identity cards that allow holders to purchase medical cannabis. Card demand is so high that there's a six-month waiting period. (Source: USA Today of 20 April 2010)

USA: Michigan
A year after the state's medical cannabis law started, health officials can't keep up with the demand. Because of a rising backlog of about 3,000 applications, those who wish to use cannabis medically or grow it for others must wait three months for registry cards, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health. The department is getting about thousand applications a week. As of 16 April, the department said it had issued 13,239 permits for use of cannabis and 5,460 permits for caregivers to grow it. The program started in April 2009. (Source: Lansing State Journal of 23 April 2010)

USA: Cannabis and workplace
On 15 April the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that employers do not have to accommodate a worker’s medical cannabis use — even if it’s off the job. Business groups across the country praised the ruling, saying it affirms employers’ right to maintain a drug-free workplace. But worker rights advocates say the 5-2 decision guts protection for disabled employees who use a medical remedy that Oregon voters approved more than a decade ago. (Source: Register-Guard of 16 April 2010)

Science: Panic
A large study with 5,672 subjects investigated the relations between cannabis use and panic attacks. Lifetime cannabis use was significantly associated with an increased risk of current (past-year) panic attacks; however, this relation was not significant when controlling for nicotine dependence. Lifetime cannabis use was significantly associated with increased risk of a lifetime diagnosis of panic disorder. (Source: Zvolensky MJ, et al. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol 2010;18(2):129-34.)

Science: Brain toxicity
The administration of methamphetamine to mice resulted in an increased concentration of CB1 receptors in several brain regions. The toxicity of this drug to nerve cells of the brain may cause this change and increase the neuroprotective properties of the endocannabinoid system. These results also suggest that the neurotoxicity of methamphetamine may alter the vulnerability to select behavioural effects of cannabis. (Source: Bortolato M, et al. J Psychiatr Res. 2010 Apr 6. [in press])

Science: Pain
According to research at the Virginia Commonwealth University, USA, an inhibitor of FAAH attenuated the development of paw oedema and reversed hyperalgesia through the activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors. FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase) is the enzyme that accelerates the degradation of the endocannabinoid anandamide. The inhibitor thus increases the anandamide concentration. (Source: Pattipati SN, et al. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2010 Apr 7. [in press])

Science: Arteries
According to research at the University of Bonn, Germany, a CB1 receptor antagonist improved endothelium-dependent vasodilation of the aorta and decreased aortic reactive oxygen species (free radicals) in mice that had been fed with cholesterol-rich diet for seven weeks. The endothelium is the inner layer of blood vessels. (Source: Tiyerili V, et al. Basic Res Cardiol. 2010 Apr 2. [in press])

Science: Schizophrenia
The binding of a synthetic cannabinoid to CB1 receptors was investigated in nine patients with schizophrenia and ten healthy controls at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. The scientists observed elevated mean binding in patients with schizophrenia across all regions studied, and this increase was statistically significant in one brain region, called the pons. (Source: Wong DF, et al. Neuroimage. 2010 Apr 17. [in press])

Science: Birth
According to research at the University of Leicester, UK, the blood concentration of the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) increased during labour (contractions during birth).
Participants were term pregnant women undergoing induction of labour. There was a 1.5-fold increase in mean blood AEA levels in the labouring state. The authors also noted that a great rise in the blood AEA levels was associated with a short duration of labour and vice versa. (Source: Nallendran V, et al. BJOG. 2010 Apr 20. [in press])

Science: Nabilone
Researchers at the McGill University in Montreal, Canada, found out that the abuse potential of the cannabinoid nabilone, which is available on prescription in Canada and other countries, is probably low. They noted that reports of nabilone abuse are extremely rare. (Source: Ware MA and St Arnaud-Trempe E. Addiction 2010;105(3):494-503.)

Science: THC preparation
A new Delta-9-THC pharmaceutical preparation was investigated in a mouse model of pain. The Italian researchers developed an emulsion of THC by using a surfactant. Surfactants are agents that lower the surface tension of a liquid. (Source: Lazzari P, et al. Int J Pharm. 2010 Apr 15. [in press])

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