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IACM-Bulletin of 07 September 2014

Science/USA: 25 per cent fewer deaths resulting from opioid overdoses in states allowing medical cannabis

On average, states allowing the medical use of cannabis have lower rates of deaths resulting from opioid analgesic overdoses than states without such laws. A new multi-institutional study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine examined the rate of deaths caused by opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2010. Results reveal that on average, the 13 states allowing the use of medical cannabis had a 24.8 percent lower annual opioid overdose mortality rate after the laws were enacted than states without the laws, indicating that the treatment with cannabis may be safer for patients suffering from chronic pain related to cancer and other conditions.

Approximately 60 percent of all deaths resulting from opioid analgesic overdoses occur in patients who have legitimate prescriptions. While noting that evidence for the pain-relieving properties of cannabis is limited, some studies have suggested "it may provide relief for some individuals," said lead author Dr Marcus A. Bachhuber. "In addition, people already taking opioids for pain may supplement with medical marijuana and be able to lower their painkiller dose, thus lowering their risk of overdose.” Additional results of the study show that the relationship between lower opioid overdose deaths and medical cannabis laws strengthened over time; deaths were nearly 20 percent lower in the first year after a state's law was implemented, and 33.7 percent lower five years after implementation.

Bachhuber MA, Saloner B, Cunningham CO, Barry CL. Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Aug 25. [in press]

Hayes MJ, Brown MS. Legalization of Medical Marijuana and Incidence of Opioid Mortality. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Aug 25. [in press]

Science Daily of 25 August 2014

News in brief

Science/Human: Cannabis use is associated with less violence between married couples
New research findings from a study of 634 couples found that the more often they used cannabis, the less likely they were to engage in domestic violence. Husbands’ cannabis use predicted less frequent intimate partner violence by husbands and by wives. Couples in which both spouses used cannabis frequently reported the least frequent intimate partner violence.
School of Public Health and Health Professions and Research Institute on Addictions, State University of New York, USA.
Smith PH, et al. Psychol Addict Behav. 2014 Aug 18. [in press]

Uruguay: Citizens can sign up now to grow cannabis at home
People in Uruguay who want to grow their own cannabis at home are now able to register to do so as the government launched the latest phase in its legalization program. Under a law that went into effect in May, citizens of Uruguay who are at least 18 can grow cannabis for personal use if they register. There is a limit of six female plants, with an annual harvest of up to 480 grams.
Associated Press of 27 August 2014

Australia: Medical Association supports plans of Victorian Labour leader on legalisation of cannabis for medical use
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) backs state opposition leader Daniel Andrews, who plans to take advice on legalising cannabis if elected in November. AMA, which represents the doctors of the state of Victoria has backed state opposition leader Daniel Andrews in calling for cannabis to be examined for medical use, but stressed the drug must undergo Australian clinical trials first. Andrews announced earlier that if elected in November Labour would seek advice from the Victorian Law Reform Commission on the prescription, manufacture and distribution of medical cannabis.
The Guardian of 24 August 2014

Australia: Council on Drugs says that cannabis has medicinal value
Pharmaceutical cannabis is effective for treating some forms of pain, reducing spasticity in multiple sclerosis, reducing nausea and helping people gain weight, but there are barriers to medical use in Australia, the federal government's principal drug advisory group, the National Council on Drugs says. While cannabinoids may be able to treat epilepsy, glaucoma, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, Tourette's syndrome and spinal cord injuries, the report said the evidence for its use in these conditions was less clear.
The Sydney Morning Herald of 25 August 2014

Spain: The US company Cannabis Science is starting a cannabis cultivation program
Cannabis Science, a United States-based company specializing in the development of cannabis-based drugs, announced to test multiple cannabis strains for multiple medical conditions in Spain. "The company's efforts in Spain complement Cannabis Science's plans in Canada" said Mario S. Lap, director and president of EURopean Operations at Cannabis Science. The company said it has initiated an agricultural program spanning combined 15 hectares.
HEMP.org/news/content/global-cannabis-science-operating-medical-cultivation-programs-europe-n-america">HEMP News of 28 August 2014

Science/Animal: Activation of the CB2 receptor may be beneficial in Alzheimer’s disease
Research with mice demonstrates that the anti-inflammatory effect of the terpene beta-caryophyllene involves the activation of CB2 receptors and may be beneficial in Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists conclude that it may be “an attractive molecule for the development of new drugs with therapeutic potential for the treatment of AD [Alzheimer’s disease].” Beta-caryophyllene is present in cannabis, pepper and several other plants.
Department of Pharmacology, Chongqing Medical University, China.
Cheng Y, et al. Pharmacology 2014;94(1-2):1-12.

Science/Animal: Oestrogen increases analgesic effects of THC
Oestrogen enhanced THC-induced pain reduction in female rats. Ovarian hormones time-dependently modulated cannabinoid receptors in brain structures that mediate pain reduction and locomotor activity.
Department of Psychology, Washington State University, USA.
Wakley AA, et al. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 2014;124:269-77.

Science/Cells: Anandamide inhibits breast tumour-induced formation of new blood vessels
Researchers found that following a treatment with the endocannabinoid anandamide, breast cancer cells lose their ability to stimulate endothelial cells proliferation, due to a significant inhibition of all the factors produced by these cells, which promote the formation of new blood vessels.
Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Salerno, Italy.
Picardi P, et al. Transl Med UniSa 2014;10:8-12.

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