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IACM-Bulletin of 15 June 2014

Science/Human: Cannabis strains rich in CBD differ in pharmacological effects from strains rich in THC

Research with 102 patients from the Netherlands using three different cannabis strains from the pharmacies for medicinal purposes shows that pharmacological effects differ depending on the ratio of THC and CBD. These study results by the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction in Utrecht and the Office for Medicinal Cannabis of the Dutch Ministry of Health were published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. 47% of patients used the variety Bedrocan with 19% THC and less than 1% CBD, 28.5% used the variety Bedrobinol with 12% THC and less than 1% CBD and 24.5% used Bediol with nearly equal amounts of THC (6%) and CBD (7.5%). Statistical analysis of subjective effects revealed that high THC in Bedrocan and Bedrobinol resulted in increased appetite compared to Bediol. There was also a higher level of anxiety and depression in the Bedrocan group compared to the Bediol group.

Chronic pain (53%) was the most common medical indication for using cannabis followed by multiple sclerosis (23%), and 86% of patients experienced therapeutic satisfaction independent of cannabis variety. Authors wrote that “these results show that patients report therapeutic satisfaction with pharmaceutical cannabis, mainly pain alleviation.” The amount of cannabis used did not differ between different strains. With regard to the different effects authors suggest that “CBD may have a modulatory effect on some of the THC’s well-known subjective adverse-effects, such as anxiety and depressed mood.”

Brunt TM, van Genugten M, Höner-Snoeken K, van de Velde MJ, Niesink RJ. Therapeutic satisfaction and subjective effects of different strains of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis. J Clin Psychopharmacol 2014;34(3):344-9.

News in brief

Science/Human: THC increases the intensity of physical activity in patients suffering from anorexia nervosa
In a placebo-controlled cross-over study in 24 adult women with anorexia nervosa oral THC did not change the total duration of physical activity, while its average intensity moderately increased by 20 %, resulting in an increased energy expenditure. The level of physical activity is inappropriately high in up to 80 % of the patients suffering of anorexia nervosa, as a result of conscious efforts to lose weight.
Centre for Eating Disorders, Odense University Hospital, Denmark.
Andries A, et al. Eat Weight Disord. 2014 Jun 3. [in press]

Science/Human: The intake of high THC amounts results in longer sedating effects
In a study with 24 cannabis users, who smoked cannabis cigarettes with four doses of THC (placebo, 29, 49 and 69 mg of THC) on four separate test days there was a strong effect of cannabis containing high percentages of THC on the rating of subjective effects. Authors noted that “the THC-induced increase in 'feeling sedated' continues longer with a 69 mg THC dose than with a 29 mg THC dose.”
National Dutch Poisons Information Center, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Hunault CC, et al. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014 May 31. [in press]

Jamaica: The Government intends to decriminalize cannabis possession
The Jamaican government has decided to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis. Minister of Justice Mark Golding said: "Cabinet approved certain changes to the law relating to ganja. These relate to possession of small quantities of ganja for personal use, the smoking of ganja in private places and the use of ganja for medical-medicinal purposes." Possession of up to 57 grams cannabis would be punished by a fine without criminal proceedings, Golding said.
Reuters of 13 June 2014

Mexico: President is open for a discussion on the legal status of cannabis
Mexico and the United States cannot pursue diverging policies on cannabis legalization, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said, hinting he may be open to following the lead taken by some U.S. states in changing drug laws. Pena Nieto says he is in favour of debating the issue despite personal misgivings about legalizing cannabis. In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais, Pena Nieto said that the policies followed in the last 30 to 40 years had only led to more consumption and more production of drugs. "Therefore it's a failed policy," he told the newspaper.
Reuters of 8 June 2014

Science/Animal: Increased levels of 2-AG increased pain in mice
Mice that do not produce monoacylglycerol lipase, which is the main enzyme responsible for degradation of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) experience increased pain. Authors noted that inhibitions of this enzyme “not only have no beneficial analgesic effects, they may lead to exacerbation of some types of pain (particularly those with a tonic component).”
Division of Anesthesiology, Niigata University Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Japan.
Petrenko AB, et al. Behav Brain Res. 2014 Jun 3. [in press]

Science/Cells: Anandamide may be detrimental to cartilage cells
Research with cartilage cells suggests that anandamide, alone or in combination with tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), a pro-inflammatory cytokine, may be a potential destructive agent in cartilage.
Santiago University Clinical Hospital, Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
Gómez R, et al. J Orthop Res. 2014 Jun 6. [in press]

Science/Animal: Cannabinoids may prevent the effects of a trauma on emotional processing
Researchers found that a synthetic cannabinoid (WIN55,212-2) can prevent the effects of a single foot shock in rats on emotional processing. This effect may be helpful in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder.
Department of Psychology, University of Haifa, Israel.
Korem N, et al. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 Jun 5. [in press]

Science/Animal: N-Arachidonoylserotonin reduces stress
N-Arachidonoylserotonin, a dual blocker of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH, the enzyme responsible for the inactivation of the endocannabinoid anandamide) and vanilloid receptor (TRPV1) reverses the despair following exposure to stress in rats. This effect was associated with the normalization of the deregulation in the brain that follows stress application. Authors noted that “blockade of FAAH and TRPV1 may thus represent a novel target to design novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of stress-related disorders.”
Department of Clinical and Molecular Biomedicine, University of Catania Medical School, Italy.
Navarria A, et al. Pharmacol Res. 2014 May 23. [in press]

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