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IACM-Bulletin of 25 January 2015

Germany: Chancellor Merkel supports improvements in the medical use of cannabis

It is "important that we extend and improve the possibilities of the use of cannabis as a medicine for severely ill patients," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel in response to a request by a citizen to rethink the current legal status of cannabis in Germany. The question and the answer of the Chancellor were published on a website, where the Chancellor directly responds to questions by German citizens, if this question is supported by many others.

A general legalization was rejected in principle by Mrs Merkel, however, improvements in the medical use of cannabis were important. "Treatments with cannabis-based medicines are already allowed under special conditions in Germany. The Federal Ministry of Health is currently working on regulations designed to take the interests of patients into account." On 22 July 2014, three patients had successfully sued before the Administrative Court of Cologne on a right of self-cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes. The federal government, however, appealed the ruling. According to information from political circles that appeal had been filed to gain more time for the development of a concept for solving this problem

Answer by Chancellor Angela Merkel on direktzurkanzlerin.de of 16 January 2015

Jamaica: Government wants to allow the possession of cannabis for medicinal and religious reasons

The cabinet has approved a bill, which would decriminalize the possession of two ounces (56 grams) of cannabis. It would also allow the development of a medical cannabis industry. The bill has to be approved by the Senate. The bill would establish a cannabis licensing authority to deal with the regulations needed to cultivate, sell and distribute the herb for medical, scientific and therapeutic purposes. “We need to position ourselves to take advantage of the significant economic opportunities offered by this emerging industry,” Justice Minister Mark Golding said.

The new rules would make the possession of two ounces or less a minor offense. The cultivation of five or less plants on any premises would also be permitted. The new move would also allow Rastafarians, who use cannabis as a sacrament to use cannabis legally for religious purposes. Golding believes the legalization of the drug could lead to a boost in the country’s already popular tourism industry.

The Guardian of 22 January 2015

News in brief

Science/Human: Study reveals major data gaps on opioid drugs for chronic pain
A National Institutes of Health (NIH) white paper that was released on 15 January 2015 finds major data gaps concerning the effectiveness of opioid drugs in the treatment of long-term chronic pain. The paper, which constitutes the final report of a seven-member panel convened by the NIH last September, finds that many of the studies were either poorly conducted or of an insufficient duration. They concluded that “opioids are clearly the best treatment for some patients with chronic pain, but there are probably more effective approaches for many others.”
Reuben DB, et al. Ann Intern Med. 2015 Jan 13. [in press]

USA: About 1 % of Michigan citizens are allowed to use medicinal cannabis
Last year, the number of identification cards for patients in the medical cannabis program totalled 96,408, according to the state government. The population of Michigan was about 9.9 million in 2014.
Detroit News of 18 January 2015

Chile: Second company allowed to cultivate cannabis for medicinal purposes
The Chilean authorities have authorized the company Agrofuturo to carry out a project of cultivation and harvest of cannabis for medicinal purposes, the second such initiative in Chile. The agency explained that Agrofuturo will produce cannabis for national and international markets.
Latin American Herald Tribune

Israel: Further farmers are expected to be allowed to grow cannabis for therapeutic purposes
The Health Ministry is expected to publish a tender later this month that will allow additional farmers to grow cannabis for medicinal purposes in Israel. At least 10 farmers are expected to bid. There are currently eight approved medical cannabis growers in Israel.
Haaretz of 5 January 2015

Science/Human: Association between psychosis and cannabis may in part be based on alcohol use
In a prospective study with 341 subjects with a high risk for the development of psychosis researchers found that cannabis use was associated with a higher risk of psychosis, but this effect was partly mediated by the concurrent use of alcohol. Researchers wrote that “results highlight the need to control for other substance use, so as to not overstate the cannabis/psychosis connection.”
The Zucker Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks , USA.
Auther AM, et al. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2015 Jan 9. [in press]

Science/Cells: Activation of the CB1 receptor induces cell death in prostate cancer cells
Treatments of prostate cancer cells with the endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol induced apoptosis (programmed cell death) and this effect was mainly mediated by the cannabinoid-1 receptor.
Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile.
Orellana-Serradell O, et al. Oncol Rep. 2015 Jan 21. [in press]

Science/Animal: Activation of the CB2 receptor reduces joint inflammation
In a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis a synthetic cannabinoid (HU-308), which selectively activates the CB2 receptor reduced joint inflammation “by inhibiting the production of autoantibodies and proinflammatory cytokines.”
Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China.
Gui H, et al. Immunobiology. 2014 Dec 30. [in press]

Science/Animal: CBD improves survival in an animal model of malaria involving the brain
Cannabidiol (CBD) increases survival and promotes rescue of cognitive function in a mouse model of Malaria, which involves the brain (cerebral malaria). Cerebral malaria, a form of severe malaria that involves damage to the brain, may be caused by infection with Plasmodium falciparum.
Institute of Biological Sciences, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
de Campos AC, et al. Neuroscience. 2015 Jan 13. [in press]

Science/Animal: CBD and THCV inhibit the development of fatty liver
Research with zebra fish and obese mice shows that the cannabinoids CBD (cannabidiol) and THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) reduce fat levels in liver cells and inhibit the development of fatty liver.
Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Pozzuoli, Naples, Italy.
Silvestri C, et al. J Hepatol. 2015 Jan 13. [in press]

Science/Cells: Endocannabinoids relax smooth muscle cells of blood vessels
Research with parts of the aorta of mice and rats demonstrates that the constrictions of blood vessels caused by certain receptors (GPCRs) is attenuated by the formation of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). Authors concluded that “endocannabinoid release has a therapeutic potential in case of increased vascular tone and hypertension.”
Department of Physiology, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary.
Szekeres M, et al. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2015 Jan 13. [in press]

Science/Animal: CBD in combination with another substance improved anti-cancer effects of CBD in glioblastoma
A sub-population of glioblastoma cells (an aggressive brain tumour), glioma stem cells, is specifically endowed to resist or adapt to the standard therapies, leading to therapeutic resistance. Researchers investigated mechanisms underlying glioma stem cell resistance to cannabidiol (CBD). Combining CBD treatment with the inhibition of the so-called system Xc resulted in robust anti-tumour effects, that is, decreased glioma stem cell survival.
California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, San Francisco, USA.
Singer E, et al. Cell Death Dis 2015;6:e1601.

Science/Animal: Activation of CB2 receptors improved the repair process of skeletal muscles
Research with rats revealed multiple effects of CB2 receptor activation in “improving muscle regeneration, alongside its potential for clinical application in patients with skeletal muscle injuries and diseases.”
China Medical University School of Forensic Medicine, Shenyang, China.
Yu T, et al. Histol Histopathol. 2015 Jan 15. [in press]

Science/Animal: CB1 receptor activation may increase liver cancer formation
Research with mice shows, that the activation of the cannabinoid-1 receptor may increase the development of liver cancer. Authors concluded that this “highlights the therapeutic potential of peripheral CB1R blockade.”
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Bethesda, USA.
Mukhopadhyay B, et al.Hepatology. 2015 Jan 7. [in press]

Science/Animal: The activation of CB1 receptors inhibits increased bladder activity
Research with mice indicates “that activation of CB1 inhibits increased bladder activity induced by NGF [nerve growth factor].” Nerve growth factor is an important mediator of inflammatory pain.
Departments of Surgical Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA.
Wang ZY, et al. Neurosci Lett. 2015 Jan 6. [in press]

Science/Animal: Peripheral activation of the CB1 receptor reduces bowel motility
A synthetic cannabinoid (AM841), which activates CB1 receptors, but does not penetrate into the brain, reduces bowel motility through an action on CB1 receptors in the small and large intestine. Authors concluded that this cannabinoid “represents a new class of potential therapeutic agents for the treatment of functional GI [gastrointestinal] disorders.”
Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Canada
Keenan CM, et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2015 Jan 9. [in press]

Science/Animal: CBD reduces the toxicity of doxorubicin
Doxorubicin is a widely used, potent chemotherapeutic agent, which may cause severe damage to the heart. Research with mice shows that this adverse effect may be attenuated by CBD (cannabidiol).
Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA.
Hao E, et al. Mol Med. 2015 Jan 6. [in press]

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