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IACM-Bulletin of 16 December 2012

Science/Human: Cannabis may be helpful in some patients with cluster headache according to a survey

A survey with 139 patients suffering from cluster headache suggests that a considerable number of people with this condition may profit from a treatment with cannabis. The questionnaire was distributed and evaluated by scientists of the Emergency Headache Centre of the Hôpital Lariboisičre in Paris, France. 63 of the 139 participants (45.3 per cent) had a history of cannabis use.

Among the 27 patients (19.4 per cent of the total group), who had tried cannabis to treat cluster headache attacks, 25.9 per cent reported some efficacy, 51.8 per cent variable or uncertain effects, and 22.3 per cent negative effects. Authors concluded: “Cannabis use is very frequent in CH patients, but its efficacy for the treatment of the attacks is limited. Less than one third of self-reported users mention a relief of their attacks following inhalation." Given the severe pain and limited effects of standard medication in many patients additional treatment options are welcome and necessary.

Leroux E, Taifas I, Valade D, Donnet A, Chagnon M, Ducros A. Use of cannabis among 139 cluster headache sufferers. Cephalalgia. 2012 Nov 29. [in press]

Czech Republic: Parliament wants to allow cannabis for medical use

Czech lawmakers voted on 7 December to allow cannabis and drugs derived from it to be available on prescription from pharmacies from next year on. Only imported cannabis will be available for the first year, after which the Czech Institute for Drug Control will allot licenses to local growers. The upper house Senate is expected to approve the bill, which needs to be signed by the president.

"The point of the proposal is to make medical marijuana accessible to patients that need it and that already use it today, even when it is against the law," said Pavel Bem from a group of deputies who created the bill. the Czech Republic already lets the public grow, possess, and consume - but not sell - small amounts of most illicit drugs and considers the possession of less than 15 grams of cannabis as legal.

Reuters of 7 December 2012

USA: Obama wants to tolerate the legalization of cannabis in Colorado and Washington by voters

In a television interview aired on 14 December, President Barack Obama was asked whether he supports making cannabis legal. He said: "I wouldn't go that far." But the president won't pursue users in the states where voters legalized the use of cannabis in the November elections. Cannabis remains illegal under federal law.

Obama said: "It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view" to focus on drug use in states where it is now legal. Cannabis officially became legal in Washington State in early December; it becomes legal in Colorado in January.

Associated Press of 14 December 2012

News in brief

UK: Lawmakers seek inquiry into drug legalisation
Britain should consider legalising drug use and examine international models of decriminalisation, lawmakers said on 10 December in a report. The Home Affairs Committee of the Parliament said Britain's drugs policy was not working and called on the government to appoint a royal commission to review the issue. "We believe that there is now, more than ever, a case for a fundamental review of all UK drugs policy in the international context, to establish a package of measures that will be effective in combating the harm caused by drugs, both at home and abroad," the report says.
Reuters of 9 December 2012

USA: Majority of Americans favour legalized cannabis
American citizens favour cannabis legalization by 51 per cent to 44 per cent, a Quinnipiac University Polling Institute survey indicates. Men support legalization 59 per cent to 36 per cent, but women are opposed, 52 per cent to 44 per cent. Voters 18-29 years of age support legalization 67 per cent to 29 per cent, while voters over age 65 are opposed, 56 per cent to 35 per cent.
UPI of 5 December 2012

Science/Human: Cannabis use may increase the risk for pneumothorax
In an analysis of 20 patients with pneumothorax 13 were regular cannabis users. In users of cannabis there was also a higher risk for recurrent pneumothorax. Authors wrote: “Despite the small sample size, there seems to be a connection between marijuana use and PSP prevalence. It's unclear if marijuana directly contributes to the development of pneumothorax, or just aggravates a fundamentally fragile lung parenchyma condition.”
Pécsi Tudományegyetem, Klinikai Központ, Pécs, Hungary.
Jakab L, et al. Magy Seb 2012;65(6):421-5.

Science/Animal: Loss of CB1 receptors causes memory decline
The learning ability of healthy mice was compared with that of mice without CB1 receptors. In the first months there was no difference, but 12-months-old mice without CB1 receptors showed impaired performance in tests on learning. Authors concluded that loss of CB1 receptors “leads to early onset of age-related memory decline.”
Institute of Molecular Psychiatry, University of Bonn, Germany.
Albayram O, et al. Front Aging Neurosci 2012;4:34.

Science/Human: Reciprocal relationship between cannabis use and psychosis
In a study with 2,120 adolescents, who were examined at the age of 14, 16, and 19, cannabis use slightly increased the risk for psychosis and psychosis increased the risk for cannabis use. Authors wrote: “Cannabis use predicts psychosis vulnerability in adolescents, and vice versa which suggests that there is a bi-directional causal association between the two.”
Department of Clinical Child and Adolescent Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Leiden University, the Netherlands.
Griffith-Lendering MF, et al. Addiction. 2012 Dec 7. [in press]

Science/Human: An endocannabinoid may be helpful in epilepsy
In a rat model of “absence epilepsy” the endocannabinoid palmitoylethanolamine (PEA) demonstrated anti-absence properties. This may be based on the activation of CB1 receptors since a blocker of the CB1 receptor increased absence effects.
Department of Health Science, School of Medicine and Surgery, University "Magna Graecia" of Catanzaro, Catanzaro, Italy.
Citraro R, et al. Neuropharmacology. 2012 Dec 1. [in press]

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