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IACM-Bulletin of 21 September 2014

Italy: Army will grow cannabis for medical use

Italian media reported plans to grow medical cannabis at a military-run pharmaceutical factory in Florence. The agreement was reached between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Defence, and further details on the arrangement will be made available by the end of September 2014.

Allaying fears of a broad liberalization of soft drugs, Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin was quoted in the Italian newspaper La Stampa as saying that, “from a pharmaceutical point of view, there are no problems with the therapeutic use of cannabis…however, it has to be treated like a medicine.” The hope is that military control will ensure that the drug remains restricted to medical use only. La Stampa noted that the drug could be made available in Italian pharmacies as early as next year. There are presently no legal private growers of medical cannabis in Italy, meaning patients currently have to purchase their cannabis from abroad. This expense is borne by the Italian healthcare system.

RIA of 9 September 2014

Chile: First farm dedicated to the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes was approved

Chile's first farm dedicated to medical cannabis was approved. Claudio Orrego, governor of Metropolitan Santiago, made the announcement. The farm will grow cannabis to be used for medicine as well as research. It is expected to produce cannabis oil, which can be used to help those suffering from cancer. "It's [something] that's being done in other parts of the world," Oscar Concha, a government official, said on 8 September. "We greatly value the use of this farm for research."

The farm will be sponsored by La Florida, a Santiago municipality, as well as Fundación Daya, which is "a non-profit organization whose purpose is to research and promotion of alternative therapies to alleviate human suffering," according to its website. „We believe in the right to health of all people, and access to [complimentary] therapies and inexpensive as this should be part of that right,” the foundation said in a statement.

Latin Post of 9 September 2014

Australia: Prime Minister Tony Abbott backs legalisation of medical cannabis

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is now supporting the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes. In a letter to talkback radio host Alan Jones, Mr Abbott went even further than New South Wales Premier Mike Baird – who has approved a clinical trial of the use of medical cannabis – by saying that no further testing should be needed on the drug if it is legal in other countries. "I have no problem with the medical use of cannabis, just as I have no problem with the medical use of opiates," Mr Abbott wrote in a letter to Jones dated 23 August.

"If a drug is needed for a valid medicinal purpose though and is being administered safely there should be no question of its legality. And if a drug that is proven to be safe abroad is needed here it should be available. I agree that the regulation of medicines is a thicket of complexity, bureaucracy and corporate and institutional self-interest. My basic contention is that something that has been found to be safe in a reliable jurisdiction shouldn't need to be tested again here." Jones read out the letter from Mr Abbott – who has not commented publicly on the issue before – on his radio breakfast program on 17 September.

The Sunday Morning Herald of 17 September 2014

Israel: Government allows certain family doctors to prescribe cannabis for medicinal purposes

The Health Ministry is to temporarily allow family doctors to provide their patients with prescriptions for medical cannabis. The ministry is trying to deal with the heavy load on pain clinics, the medical units that are allowed today to grant the prescriptions. The new rules will allow family physicians, who work in health maintenance organization clinics, to write the medicinal cannabis prescriptions under two conditions: when it is an extension of an existing treatment, and keeping to an existing dosage.

About 18,000 Israelis hold permits for using medical cannabis, with this number expected to grow to 40,000 by 2018. Demand for cannabis in Israel has been growing steadily, and the list of conditions for which it is authorized has also been growing. The Health Ministry had also decided in its new medical cannabis regulations to increase the number of doctors allowed to prescribe cannabis to 30 doctors, and to reduce the long waiting times for patients to see these doctors. The Association of Family Doctors in Israel was surprised to hear of the new regulations. "No one asked us; there was no discussion or consultation on the matter," said family doctors association chairman Dr Shlomo Vinker.

Haaretz of 17 September 2014.

News in brief

Science: Handbook of Cannabis now available
The Handbook of Cannabis edited by Roger Pertwee and published by Oxford University Press is now available. It has 768 pages and in 49 chapters includes all issues on pharmacology, adverse effects and therapeutic potential of cannabis and cannabinoids and on the endocannabinoid system written by eminent researchers in the field. Certainly the best ever published book on this issue.
Handbook of Cannabis

South Africa: Christian party supports medical use of cannabis
The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) supports the Medical Innovation Bill which, if passed, will allow for the use of cannabis for medical reasons in the country, said the party’s Cheryllyn Dudley on 18 September.
Yahoo News South Africa of 18 September 2014

Austria: Citizen's initiative for the legalization of cannabis debated in the petition committee of the parliament
The “Citizen's initiative for removing cannabis from the Austrian narcotic’s law” has now been signed by 22,392 Austrians making it the third most successful such petition in the country's history. The petition committee of the parliament now has asked for a statement from the Health Ministry.
Press release of the Hanf Institut

Australia: Tasmania's health minister supports trials of medicinal cannabis
The shift in the Liberal government's stance came after Health Minister Michael Ferguson rejected a bid for a trial in the state in July. "We support appropriately conducted clinical trials, feeding into the existing national medicines regulatory framework," Mr Ferguson now said in a statement.
7 News of 8 September 2014

Science/Human: Cannabis is used to cope with social anxiety
In a study with 123 cannabis users it was found that a major reason to use the drug is to manage social forms of anxiety.
Department of Psychology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, USA.
Buckner JD, et al. Am J Addict. 2014 Sep 7 [in press]

Science/Animal: Cannabidiol improves dilation of arteries in rats
Cannabidiol (CBD) enhanced the maximum relaxation of blood vessels to acetylcholine in arteries in rats with diabetes. This effect was at least partly mediated by the CB2 receptor. CBD enhanced the production of a blood vessel dilating substance derived from cyclooxygenase.
University of Nottingham, UK.
Wheal AJ, et al. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2014 Sep 11 [in press]

Science/Human: Sativex did not reduce driving ability
In a study with 33 MS patients, who received Sativex for the treatment of spasticity, the cannabis extract did not reduce driving ability. Authors wrote that “patients showed comparable driving test results at baseline and at final visits. Only two patients changed classification shifting from 'unfit' to drive to 'fit' and vice versa.”
MS-Zentrum, Kaltenkirchen/Holstein, Germany.
Freidel M, et al. Acta Neurol Scand. 2014 Sep 11 [in press]

Science/Animal: Palmitoylethanolamide is an effective anti-inflammatory agent for inflammatory bowel diseases
The endocannabinoid palmitoylethanolamide, which was injected into the belly or given orally attenuated inflammation of the colon, which was induced by a chemical. This effect was mediated by the CB2 receptor, the GPR55 and the PPAR-Alpha, and modulated by vanilloid receptors.
Department of Pharmacy, University of Naples Federico II, Italy.
Borrelli F, et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2014 Sep 10 [in press]

Science/Cells: 2-AG may interfere with the implantation of newly fertilized eggs in the uterus
In cell experiments the endocannabinoid 2-AG (2-arachidonoylglycerol) interferes with the normal development of cells (cytotrophoblast cells) important for the implantation of newly fertilized egg in the uterus. This effect was mediated by cannabinoid receptors.
Faculdade de Farmácia, Universidade do Porto, Portugal
Costa MA, et al. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2014 Sep 6 [in press]

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