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IACM-Bulletin of 23 March 2014

IACM: Mailing lists for members

If you want to stay or get in touch to other IACM members this is the best way. You may subscribe to one of the new three mailing lists here! Regular members (scientists, doctors, etc.) are invited to subscribe to the IACM Science Mailing List to discuss current developments in cannabinoid research, make suggestions for the IACM work, comment on news articles in the IACM-Bulletin, etc. All members of the IACM Board of Directors participate in this mailing list.

Associate members (patients, activists, other members) are invited to subscribe to the IACM English Mailing List or the Spanish Mailing List. If you are active in your country or would like to get active and would like to get in touch with patients from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Uruguay and many other countries this may be a good forum to exchange experiences. It is also possible to ask questions to experts and discuss scientific issues since Ethan Russo and Franjo Grotenhermen participate in the English Mailing List and Manuel Guzman and Ricardo Navarrete-Varo participate in the Spanish Mailing List.

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To become a member of the IACM please click here.

Science/Human: Cannabis use reduces symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in an open clinical study

Several symptoms may be improved in patients with Parkinson’s disease by the inhalation of cannabis. This is the result of an open clinical study with 22 patients at the Department of Neurology of the Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva and the Sackler Faculty of Medicine of Tel Aviv University, Israel. Patients attending a medical centre in 2011 to 2012 were evaluated at baseline and 30 minutes after smoking cannabis.

The mean total score on the motor Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale improved significantly from 33.1 at baseline to 23.2 after cannabis consumption. Analysis of specific motor symptoms revealed significant improvement after treatment in tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia. There was also significant improvement of sleep and pain scores. No significant adverse effects of the drug were observed. Authors concluded that “the study suggests that cannabis might have a place in the therapeutic armamentarium of PD [Parkinson’s disease].”

Lotan I, Treves TA, Roditi Y, Djaldetti R. Cannabis (medical marijuana) treatment for motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson disease: an open-label observational study. Clin Neuropharmacol 2014;37(2):41-4.

USA: Cannabis study in veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder gets approval by the government

The federal government has signed off on a long-delayed study looking at cannabis as a treatment for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. The Department of Health and Human Services’ decision surprised cannabis advocates who have struggled for decades to secure federal approval for research into the drug’s medical uses.

The proposal from the University of Arizona was long ago cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, but researchers had been unable to purchase cannabis from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The agency’s research farm at the University of Mississippi is the only federally-sanctioned source of the drug. In a letter last week, the Health Ministry cleared the purchase of medical cannabis by the studies’ chief financial backer, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which supports medical research and legalization of cannabis and other drugs.

Associated Press of 17 March 2014

News in brief

Science/Human: Cannabis use did not reduce cognitive performance in adolescents
33 adolescents, who had quitted cannabis use, did not differ in IQ, attention, memory, or executive functions compared to non-users. Authors concluded that “previously reported neurocognitive deficits may be related to other factors, including residual drug effects, pre-existing cognitive deficits, concurrent use of other substances (e.g., nicotine), or psychopathology.” Adolescents “may not be vulnerable to THC neuropsychological deficits once they achieve remission from all drugs for at least 30 days.”
Department of Psychiatry and Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.
Hooper SR, et al. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014 Mar 12. [in press]

USA: Alabama lawmakers approve the use of cannabis rich in CBD
A medical cannabis bill unanimously passed both the Alabama House and Senate. The measure makes it legal to possess a prescribed cannabis extract rich in CBD.
Reuters of 20 March 2014

USA: Cannabis is less harmful than sugar Americans say according to a poll
According to a representative poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News Americans think that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol, tobacco and sugar. Respondents were asked which of the four substances they believed to be "most harmful to a person's overall health." Most respondents said tobacco (49%), followed by alcohol (24%), sugar (15%) and cannabis (8%).
Poll results to this question on page 22.

South Africa: Member of Parliament asks for a law change to allow the medical use of cannabis
Mario Oriani-Ambrosini is a member of parliament for the Inkatha Freedom Party. He suffers from lung cancer and is asking for the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal purposes. The government signals interest. On 18 February 2014 Oriani-Ambrosini submitted a bill with the title “Medical Innovation Bill.“
SÜDAFRIKA of 4 March 2014

Science/Human: Cannabis smokers titrate their THC intake according to cannabis potency
Cannabis users titrate their THC intake by inhaling lower volumes of smoke when smoking strong joints, but this does not fully compensate for the higher cannabis doses per joint when using strong cannabis. This is the result of a study with 98 cannabis users, who smoked cannabis with THC concentrations varying between 0.2-15.7%. Authors concluded that “users of more potent cannabis are generally exposed to more delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.”
Trimbos Institute, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Van der Pol P, et al. Addiction. 2014 Mar 17. [in press]

Science/Cells: Some cannabinoids reduce inflammation of endothelial cells
Endothelial cells form the thin layer of cells that lines the interior surface of blood vessels. The synthetic cannabinoid WIN55,212-2 and the endocannabinoid NADA reduced inflammation of these cells, while the endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG were ineffective. The effects of NADA were mediated by cannabinoid receptors, but not those of WIN55,212-2.
University of California, San Francisco, United States.
Wilhelmsen K, et al. J Biol Chem. 2014 Mar 18. [in press]

Science/Cells: CBD enhances phagocytosis by immune cells in the brain
The non-psychotropic cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) enhances phagocytosis by microglia cells through the activation of vanilloid receptors (TRPV). Microglial cells are macrophages (certain immune cells) of the brain and spinal cord. Authors concluded that “the TRPV-dependent phagocytosis-enhancing effect of CBD suggests that pharmacological modification of TRPV channel activity could be a rational approach to treating neuroinflammatory disorders involving changes in microglial function.”
School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham, UK.
Hassan S, et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2014 Feb 21. [in press]

Science/Human: Only small increase in accident risk under the influence of cannabis
In a study with 1046 drivers killed as a result of a motor vehicle crash on New Zealand roads those with alcohol in their blood had an increased risk by 13.7 to be responsible to the accident, while the increase in risk was only low for cannabis (odds ratio: 1.3). Surprisingly, the risk was lower for THC blood concentrations above 5ng/ml (odds ratio: 1.0) and higher for those below 2ng/ml (odds ratio: 3.1).
Environmental Science and Research, Porirua, New Zealand.
Poulsen H, et al. Accid Anal Prev 2014;67C:119-128.

Science/Animal: Activation of CB2 receptors may be helpful in migraine
In two animal models with rats, which may be relevant for migraine, activation of the CB2 receptor reduced pain. Authors concluded that “these findings suggest that the pharmacological manipulation of the CB2 receptor may represent a potential therapeutic tool for the treatment of migraine.”
Headache Science Centre, "C. Mondino" National Neurological Institute, Pavia, Italy.
Greco R, et al. J Headache Pain 2014;15(1):14.

Science/Human: Long-term cannabis use was associated with the reduction of grey matter of the brain
In a group of regular cannabis smokers in comparison to a group of occasional smokers researchers found a reduction in grey matter volume in certain brain regions (medial temporal cortex, temporal pole, parahippocampal gyrus, insula, and orbitofrontal cortex). These regions are rich in CB1 receptors.
Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois and University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
Battistella G, et al. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 Mar 17. [in press]

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