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IACM-Bulletin of 21 October 2012

USA: Petition for allowing cannabis as medicine before federal court

Supporters of legal use of cannabis for medicinal purposes asked a federal appeals court on 16 October to do what Congress and U.S. presidents have resisted for decades and help ease the level of regulation surrounding cannabis. The association Americans for Safe Access said there was no reason for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to control cannabis as tightly as it does heroin.

Americans for Safe Access lawyer Joseph Elford said the DEA ignored recent evidence of cannabis’ medical benefits when, in 2011, the agency declined to ease regulation. Federal law required the DEA to take that evidence into account, he said. The federal government divides drugs into five categories, or schedules. Schedule I requires the strictest control and covers drugs such as marijuana and heroin. Cocaine is a Schedule II drug, and prescription medications rank further down in the system. The drugs are ranked by potential for abuse, medical value and risk of dependence. Elford's group wants the appeals court to force the DEA to hold a hearing on marijuana's classification, which the group believes should be Schedule III or lower.

Reuters of 16 October 2012

Science/Human: The intake of cannabinoids results in slightly higher bioavailability if taken with a meal

THC and CBD taken together with a meal causes higher maximal blood concentrations and bioavailability compared to the intake in a fasted state, but this difference is small. This is the result of a clinical study conducted by the company GW Pharmaceuticals with twelve subjects, who received a single dose of Sativex (4 sprays = 10.8 mg THC + 10 mg CBD) once during the fasted state and four days later together with a meal.

Mean systemic bioavailability and maximum blood concentrations were higher for THC, the THC metabolite 11-OH-THC (11-hydroxy-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), and CBD (cannabidiol) during the fed condition. There was a high variability of concentrations between the different subjects, mainly for THC. Maximum plasma concentrations of THC in the fasted state varied between 0.97 and 9.34 ng/ml (nanograms per millilitre) and after the intake with meals between 2.81 and 14.91 ng/ml. Seven subjects presented with higher THC concentrations after the intake of Sativex with a meal, while 5 subjects showed higher THC concentrations after intake of cannabinoids in the fasted state. Food also appeared to delay the time to peak concentration in all participants by approximately 2-2.5 hours, which may also delay the time of maximum effect.

Stott CG, White L, Wright S, Wilbraham D, Guy GW. A phase I study to assess the effect of food on the single dose bioavailability of the THC/CBD oromucosal spray. EUR J Clin Pharmacol. 2012 Oct 4. [in press]

News in brief

Science/Human: 4 out of 10 MS patients find relief from Sativex in observational study
In an observational study performed in Germany, with 300 patients, one month’s treatment with Sativex containing THC and CBD reduced moderate to severe multiple sclerosis spasticity by 20 per cent or more in 4 out of 10 patients previously unresponsive to conventional therapies. After three months, the improvement observed was 30 per cent or more. These results were presented on 11 October at a congress in Lyon, France.
Press release by GW Pharmaceuticals of 12 October 2012

Science/Human: CBD inhibits THC effects on psyche and cognition
In a randomised study with 48 healthy subjects in participants (n=22), who received 600 mg oral CBD 210 minutes before the infusion of 1.5 mg THC, paranoia was lower while memory and learning ability was better compared to participants (n=26), who received a placebo before THC.
The Biomedical Research Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK.
Englund A, et al. J Psychopharmacol. 2012 Oct 5. [in press]

Holland: The recent cannabis law on coffee shops may be changed
After the parliamentary election on 12 September 2012 the law on cannabis coffee shops may be changed. Politicians are working on a compromise proposal to end divisions over the introduction of the wietpas, a membership card for cannabis cafes. It is unlikely that the card will be introduced nationwide in January 2013. The compromise would end the obligation on cannabis cafe owners to register users and would allow people to buy soft drugs all over the country. However 'foreigners' would be refused entry. Labour and the VVD are currently in talks on forming a new government.
DutchNews.nl of 18 October 2012

France: Education minister calls for discussion on legalization of cannabis
Education Minister Vincent Peillon said during a radio interview he favoured legalizing cannabis. Peillon said he would like to see a discussion about the possible legalization of marijuana. He said the results of using "repressive means" to fight drug trafficking "suggest that it's not very effective." The opposition conservative party reacted with hysteria and demanded a clarification from President Francois Hollande. Thereupon, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on 15 October that France has no intention of legalizing cannabis.
UPI of 15 October 2012

USA: The City of Oakland sues the federal government to stop action on cannabis dispensaries
The City of Oakland has filed a lawsuit in federal court to prevent the Department of Justice from seizing property leased to the largest medical cannabis dispensary in the country. “This lawsuit is about protecting the rights of legitimate medical patients,” City Attorney Barbara Parker said in a statement on 10 October, when the suit was filed.
New York Times of 11 October 2012.

Science/Animal: Inhibitor of endocannabinoid synthesis may hold promise against obesity
An inhibitor of the synthesis of the endocannabinoid 2-AG, which is called O-7460, reduced 2-AG levels and body weight in mice.
Endocannabinoid Research Group, C.N.R., Pozzuoli, Italy.
Bisogno T, et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2012 Oct 16. [in press]

Science/Animal: Synergistic action of THC and morphine in pain reduction
Research with rats indicate that alternating opioid (morphine) and cannabinoid (THC) treatment could produce a longer lasting and more potent analgesia than either compound given alone.
Department of Psychology, Washington State University Vancouver, USA.
Wilson-Poe AR, et al. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2012 Oct 10. [in press]

Science/Human: Adherence to therapy of cannabis using HIV-positive patients
In a study with 180 HIV-positive subjects, who received antiretroviral therapy, those with cannabis dependence had lower adherence to therapy and more side effects than those with moderate or no cannabis use.
National Center for PTSD, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, California, USA.
Bonn-Miller MO, et al. J Behav Med. 2012 Oct 7. [in press]

Science/Animal: THC does not increase the reinforcing effects of heroin in monkeys
In an experiment with rhesus monkeys self-administration of heroin was not increased if heroin was combined with THC. Authors concluded that these results “indicate that THC does not significantly enhance the positive reinforcing effects of heroin, further supporting the view that combining cannabinoid and opioid receptor agonists (e.g. for treating pain) does not increase, and might decrease, the abuse liability of individual drugs.”
Departments of Pharmacology and Psychiatry, The University of Texas, San Antonio, USA.
Li JX, et al. Behav Pharmacol. 2012 Oct 5. [in press]

Science/Human: Cannabis use does not increase suicide risk
In a study with 976 students heavy cannabis use was not associated with an increased risk for suicide attempts two years later, but with a higher risk of depression. Participants were contacted in 2000/2001 and in 2002/2003.
Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.
Rasic D, et al. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2012 Oct 4. [in press]

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