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IACM-Bulletin of 21 November 2010

USA: Arizona becomes the 15th state to legalize the medical use of cannabis

By a narrow margin, Arizona voters have approved medical cannabis for people with chronic or debilitating diseases on 2 November. The decision makes Arizona the 15th state to have approved a medical cannabis law. California was the first in 1996, and 13 other states (Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia followed. The ballot measure on the issue won by just 4,341 votes out of more than 1.67 million ballots counted, according to final tallies announced on 13 November. Arizona voters overwhelmingly approved a medical cannabis law in 1996 and 1998, but it never went into effect because of problems with its wording.

The Arizona measure will allow patients with diseases including cancer, AIDS, hepatitis C and any other “chronic or debilitating” disease that meets guidelines to grow plants or to buy two and a half ounces (about 70 grams) of cannabis every two weeks. The patients must obtain a recommendation from their doctor and register with the Arizona Department of Health Services. The law allows for no more than 124 cannabis dispensaries in the state. From 29 November on the state has 120 days before the law goes into effect.

More at:
- hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_ARIZONA_MEDICAL_MARIJUANA?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=news_generic.htm

(Sources: New York Times of 15 November 2010, Associated Press of 14 November 2010)

Sweden: First patient allowed to use THC (dronabinol)

Joakim Hedström is the first Swedish citizen who is allowed to use THC (dronabinol) medicinally, which was prescribed to him by a German doctor and imported by him to Sweden. On his website he states that "for the past 5 years, I have been discussing the positive experiences I have gained using cannabis medicinally to combat my ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] symtoms. I've spoken with doctors, politicians and scientists explaining about my use; and how it helps me where the other twenty prescription drugs I've tried did not."

In June he went to Germany to visit a doctor and was prescribed dronabinol. Upon re-entry to Sweden and declaring his medicine, he was interrogated by the Swedish customs office, and later the Swedish police. However, the charges against him due to the importation of illegal narcotics were dropped in November. The prosecutor said that, "in light of the evidence presented, I see no objective reason to press charges, or to expect a conviction." Two days later Mr. Hedström received a package from the police containing his dronabinol.

More at:

(Source: Personal communication by Joakim Hedström of 16 November 2010)

Science: Pharmacokinetics of isolated oral dronabinol (in Marinol) is similar to sublingual dronabinol in a cannabis extract (Sativex)

Scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore, USA, investigated the pharmacokinetics of synthetic oral dronabinol (Marinol) in comparison with dronabinol in Sativex, a cannabis extract adminstered as an oromucosal spray into the mouth. Cannabis smokers were included in a randomized, controlled, double-blind study. Participants received 5 and 15 mg synthetic oral THC, low-dose (5.4 mg THC and 5.0 mg CBD) and high-dose (16.2 mg THC and 15.0 mg CBD) Sativex, and placebo for 5 sessions. CBD, THC and THC metabolites were quantified in blood plasma.

Nine cannabis smokers completed all 5 dosing sessions. There were no statistically significant differences in the maximum dronabinol concentrations in plasma, time to maximum concentration or in the bioavailability between similar oral THC and Sativex doses. Authors also concluded that "these data suggest that CBD modulation of THC's effects is not due to a pharmacokinetic interaction at these therapeutic doses."

(Source: Karschner EL, Darwin WD, Goodwin RS, Wright S, Huestis MA. Plasma Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetics following Controlled Oral {Delta}9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Oromucosal Cannabis Extract Administration. Clin Chem. 2010 Nov 15. [in press])

Europe: The German ACM is looking for partners in other EURopean countries to realize a EURopean Citizens' Initiative for the medical use of cannabis

The EURopean Citizens’ Initiative is one of the major innovations of the Treaty of Lisbon aiming to increase participatory democracy in the EURopean Union (EU). The initiative enables one million EU citizens, to call directly on the EURopean Commission to bring forward an initiative of interest to them in an area of EU competence. The practical arrangements, conditions and procedure of the citizens’ initiative will be determined in a new EU regulation. The EURopean Commission adopted a draft regulation on the citizens’ initiative in March 2010, which is now negotiated with the Council and the EURopean Parliament until the end of of 2010. The final vote in plenary will be on 13 December.

It is currently unclear whether the regulation will be citizen-friendly or not. The German Association for Cannabis as Medicine is looking for EURopean partners to realize a EURopean Citizens' Initiative on the medical use of cannabis once the regulations have been adopted to bring the issue on the EURopean level. The draft currently says that a certain number of citizens (a quorum) in at least nine countries of the EURopean Union has to support an initiative to make it successful.

Please contact the ACM at: info@cannabis-med.org

More at:
(in English): ec.europa.eu/dgs/secretariat_general/citizens_initiative/index_en.htm
(in German): ec.europa.eu/dgs/secretariat_general/citizens_initiative/index_de.htm
(in Spanish): ec.europa.eu/dgs/secretariat_general/citizens_initiative/index_es.htm
(in French): ec.europa.eu/dgs/secretariat_general/citizens_initiative/index_fr.htm
(in Dutch): ec.europa.eu/dgs/secretariat_general/citizens_initiative/index_nl.htm
(in Italian): ec.europa.eu/dgs/secretariat_general/citizens_initiative/index_it.htm

(Source: www.citizens-initiative.eu/)

News in brief

Holland: Restrictions on cannabis sale
The Dutch government said on 17 November it wanted to ban tourists from buying cannabis in "coffee shops," where it is on sale legally. The Netherlands has one of EURope's most liberal soft drug policies and its coffee shops are a popular tourist attraction, especially in Amsterdam and border cities near Belgium and Germany. The government, which took office last month, has agreed to limit the sale of cannabis to Dutch residents. (Source: Reuters of 17 November 2010)

UK: Medicinal cannabis register
A group was founded in the UK, the British Medicinal Cannabis Register, with the objective to create a database of factual information which will detail how many people are using cannabis as medicine, for what conditions and by which methods. It is intended to make statistical information from the database available to doctors, scientists, researchers and others. More at: www.bmcr.org.uk (Source: British Medicinal Cannabis Register)

Science: Inflammation of the bowel
Scientists at the Snyder Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation in Alberta, Canada, investigated the effects of the atypical cannabinoid O-1602 on experimental colitis in mice. O-1602 is thought to bind to the putative cannabinoid receptor GPR55. They demonstrated "that O-1602 is protective against experimentally induced colitis and inhibits neutrophil recruitment independently of CB1, CB2, and GPR55 receptors." (Source: Schicho R, et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2010 Nov 15. [in press])

Science: Neuropathic pain
Cyclooxygenase 2 inhibitors such as parecoxib and valecoxib are used in the treatment of neuropathic pain. Scienists at the University of Magdeburg, Germany, demonstrated that the analgesic effects of these two substances and their metabolites in rats "may be at least partially mediated by a direct interaction with the CB1 receptors." (Source: Schröder H, et al. Neurochem Int. 2010 Nov 9. [in press])

Science: Menopause
Researcher of the Urmia University, Iran, investigated the effects of hempseed food (1, 2 or 10 per cent of whole food) on female rats, whose ovaries were removed, imitating menopause. All hempseed-treated groups were less anxious. Rats without ovaries who had received 10 per cent hempseed performed better than non-treated animals in a modell of depression (the forced swimming test). Researcger concluded that "hempseed may improve post-ovariectomy complications in rats." (Source: Saberivand A, et al. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol 2010;32(7):467-73.)

Science: Endometriosis
Deep infiltrating endometriosis is characterized by chronic pain, hyperproliferation of endometriotic cells and fibrosis. Endometriosis is a medical condition in women in which endometrial-like cells appear in areas outside the uterine cavity. Researchers from different institutions in Paris, France, showed that cannabinoids reduced the growth of endometriotic human tissue implanted in mice. They concluded that "cannabinoid agonists exert anti-proliferative effects on stromal endometriotic cells." (Source: Leconte M, et al. Am J Pathol. 2010 Nov 5. [in press])

USA: Cannabis record
According to a press release by Patients Out of Time their member Irvin Rosenfeld it is now 28 years ago that he received his first cannabis cigarettes from the federal government. The cigarettes, produced for the government at the University of Mississippi are supplied to Mr. Rosenfeld at a dosage of seven ounces (about 200 grams) every 25 days to combat his chronic illness. On 20 November 2010 Irvin smoked his 120,000th medical cannabis cigarette. More at: www.medicalcannabis.com (Source: Press release by Patients Out of Time of 20 November 2010)

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