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IACM-Bulletin of 23 February 2014

USA: The federal government allows banks to do business with licensed cannabis shops

On 14 February the Obama administration issued new guidelines aimed at encouraging banks to start doing business with state-licensed cannabis suppliers, like those in Colorado, even though such enterprises remain illegal under federal law. Administration officials said the policy shift seeks to address problems faced by newly licensed recreational cannabis retailers in Colorado, and medical cannabis dispensaries in other states, that must operate on a cash-only basis, without access to financial services or credit.

It remained to be seen whether many banks would feel sufficiently assured by the new policy, which the federal government outlined in writing to federal prosecutors and financial institutions nationwide. The guidance stopped short of promising immunity for banks. But it said criminal prosecution for money laundering and other crimes is unlikely if banks meet a series of conditions, such as avoiding business with cannabis operations that sell to minors or engage in illegal drug trafficking.

Reuters of 15 February 2014

News in brief

Science/Human: Sativex reduces spasticity of MS patients in large observational study
In an observational study with 276 patients with multiple sclerosis suffering from treatment resistant spasticity the cannabis extract Sativex provided relief in 74.6% of participants. Mean spasticity score decreased from 6.1 to 5.2 points on a scale from 0 to 10. After 3 months, 55.3% of patients had continued to use cannabis and the mean score had decreased by 25% from baseline.
Neurological Rehabilitation Center Quellenhof, Bad Wildbad, Germany.
Flachenecker P, et al. EUR Neurol 2014;71(5-6):173-181.

World: Several countries rethink their cannabis laws
Washington State, Colorado and Uruguay have prompted or accelerated discussion about changing cannabis laws in many nations according to an article by the press agency Reuters, and activists say momentum is building in advance of a special United Nations convention on drugs scheduled for 2016. Among the countries mentioned are Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico and Morocco.
Associated Press of 15 February 2014

Uruguay: Drug policy must change in the USA and EURope, the Uruguay president says
The United States and EURope need a new strategy in the war on drugs and should look at alternatives such as the regulated sale of cannabis, says Uruguayan President Jose Mujica.
Reuters of 13 February 2014

USA: 18 members of congress call on Obama to drop cannabis from 'most dangerous' category
Over a dozen members of Congress are calling on President Barack Obama to reschedule marijuana, with one congressman describing the drug's current classification as "arbitrary and incorrect." On 12 February, Earl Blumenauer and 17 of his colleagues sent a letter to the president asking him to reconsider the way cannabis is categorized by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Huffington Post of 12 February 2014

Science/Animal: Cannabinoid increases anti-epileptic effects of other medications for epilepsy
New research indicates that the synthetic cannabinoid WIN55,212-2, which acts similar to THC, significantly enhanced the anticonvulsant action of other medications used for the treatment of epilepsy, such as clonazepam, phenobarbital and valproate, in a mouse model of epilepsy.
Department of Public Health, Institute of Rural Health, Lublin, Poland.
Florek-Luszczki M, et al. J Neural Transm. 2014 Feb 19. [in press]

USA: National Epilepsy Foundation supports medical use of cannabis
The National Epilepsy Foundation officially supports the medical use of cannabis. It calls for federal and state-level policy changes to increase medical cannabis access and research.
Press release by the National Epilepsy Foundation of 20 February 2014

Science/Animal: CBD protects against cognitive deficits due to reduced blood supply
A new study shows that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive constituent of cannabis, protects against nerve degeneration in a certain brain area (hippocampus) and cognitive deficits induced by reduced blood supply to the brain in mice.
Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, State University of Maringá, Brazil.
Schiavon AP, et al. Neurotox Res. 2014 Feb 15. [in press]

Science/Animal: Endocannabinoids are beneficial in experimental colitis
An inhibitor of the degradation of the endocannabinoid anandamide (FAAH, fatty acid amide hydrolase) reduced colitis induced by a chemical in mice and its anti-inflammatory action is associated with altering the levels of selected endocannabinoids. Authors write that their results “highlight and promote therapeutic strategy based on targeting FAAH-dependent metabolic pathways in order to alleviate intestinal inflammation.”
Department of Biomolecular Chemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Medical University of Lodz, Poland.
Sałaga M, et al. J Crohns Colitis. 2014 Feb 13. [in press]

Science/Animal: Anxiety is reduced by omega-3 fatty acids and cannabinoid receptors are involved in this effect
Several studies have suggested benefits of omega-3 long-chain fatty acids for patients with anxiety disorders. In studies with mice it was demonstrated that this action was reduced by a CB1 receptor antagonist suggesting an involvement of CB1 receptors. Authors wrote that these results “suggest that the ratio of n-3 to n-6 PUFA is a factor regulating fear memory via cannabinoid CB1 receptors.”
National Institute of Neuroscience, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Tokyo, Japan.
Yamada D, et al. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 Feb 12. [in press]

Science/Animal: Odour is involved in the appetite-enhancing effects of cannabinoids
Researchers found that CB1 receptors promote food intake in fasted mice by increasing odour detection.
INSERM, Endocannabinoids and Neuroadaptation, Bordeaux, France.
Soria-Gómez E, et al. Nat Neurosci. 2014 Feb 9. [in press]

Science/Animal: The effect of cortisone on motion sickness is mediated by the endocannabinoid system
In studies with mice the cortisone derivative dexamethasone lowered the motion sickness and restored the levels of endocannabinoids and the expression of the endocannabinoid CB1 receptor, which declined after the induction of motion sickness, in the dorsal vagal complex and stomach.
Department of Military Hygiene, Faculty of Naval Medicine, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China.
Zheng Y, et al. EUR J Pharmacol. 2014 Feb 4;727C:99-105.

Science/Animal: The endocannabinoid system is involved in the sleep-wake cycle
Researchers demonstrated that the endocannabinoid anandamide increased activity in the thalamus by activation of CB1 receptors. They concluded that “our study infers that endocannabinoids could have a role in processes controlling the sleep-wake cycle and level of arousal.”
Neuroscience and Motor Control Laboratory, Department of Medicine-INEF, University of A Coruña, Spain.
Dasilva M, et al. Neuroscience. 2014 Feb 5. [in press]

Science/Animal: The endocannabinoid system may be involved in Alzheimer’s disease
At 6 and 12 months of age of mice, which are genetically modified to quickly develop Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the level of CB1 receptors was changed in several brain regions compared to normal mice. The scientists suggest “an involvement of the endocannabinoid system in AD pathology and supporting the ECS as a potential novel therapeutic target for treatment of AD.”
Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
Bedse G, et al. J Alzheimers Dis. 2014 Feb 4. [in press]

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