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IACM-Bulletin of 25 October 2020

IACM: Free Anniversary Online Meeting on 5 November 2020 to celebrate the 90th birthday of Raphael Mechoulam

On November 5, we want to celebrate together the 90th birthday of Professor Raphael Mechoulam - he was born on November 5, 1930 - and the 20th anniversary of the IACM. The online event will start at 5:00 pm (Central EURopean Time), corresponding to 9:00 am (Pacific Standard Time).

5:00 pm (CET): Welcome
5:15 pm (CET): Patient panel
Moderator: Carola Pérez
6:00 pm (CET): The future of cannabis as medicine - a scientific discussion
Moderator: Daniele Piomelli
6:45 pm (CET): Recent developments on medical use of cannabis in Latin America
Moderator: Luis Suarez
7:30 pm (CET): Global developments on different continents
Moderator: Franjo Grotenhermen
8:15 pm (CET): Celebrating Raphael Mechoulam's 90th birthday: a conversation with friends
9:15 pm (CET): End of the free online event
9:30 to 10:00 pm (CET): General Assembly of the IACM (only for invited members via zoom).

Please find here the whole programme of the IACM online events from October to December 2020.

Please register for free here for all events.

USA: Vermont is the eleventh state to legalise cannabis use by adults

Governor Phil Scott signed a bill allowing cannabis use by adults to take effect. Vermont previously legalized cannabis possession and growing. The latest bill allows and builds a commercialized, tax-and-regulate system, similar to other states’ processes.

The legislation is set to take effect in October 2020, but state regulators will have until October 2022 to start issuing licenses for retailers — meaning legal sales could still be as much as two years away. Separately, Scott signed another bill into law that seeks to automate the expungement process for past cannabis convictions, freeing people from their criminal records for cannabis. People who get expungements will receive a notification by mail.

Vox of 8 October 2020

Science/Human: Improvement of pain by cannabis in large prospective open study

The treatment with cannabis reduced pain intensity in a study with 1045 patients, of whom 551 completed symptom assessment after 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. The study was conducted in a number of pain clinics in Israel involving several scientific Israeli institutions and published in the Journal of Pain. Patients with a licence to use medical cannabis in Israel reported weekly average pain intensity and related symptoms before cannabis treatment and thereafter for one year.

At one year, average pain intensity declined from baseline by 20%. All other parameters improved by 10-30%. A significant decrease of 42% (reduction of 27mg) from baseline in morphine equivalent daily dosage of opioids was also observed. The presence of normal to long sleep duration, lower body mass index and lower depression score predicted relatively higher treatment success, whereas presence of neuropathic pain predicted the opposite. Authors concluded that this “prospective study provides further evidence for the effects of MC on chronic pain and related symptoms, demonstrating an overall mild to modest long-term improvement of the tested measures and identifying possible predictors for treatment success.“

Aviram J, Pud D, Gershoni T, Schiff-Keren B, Ogintz M, Vulfsons S, Yashar T, Haim-Moshe A, Brill S, Amital H, Goor-Aryeh I, Robinson D, Green L, Segal R, Fogelman Y, Tsvieli O, Yellin B, Vysotski Y, Morag O, Tashlykov V, Sheinfeld R, Goor R, Meiri D, Eisenberg E. Medical Cannabis Treatment for Chronic Pain: Outcomes and Prediction of Response. EUR J Pain. 2020 Oct 16. [in press]

Science/Human: An inhibitor of endocannabinoid degradation slightly improved symptoms in patients with social anxiety disorder

In a study with 149 subjects with social anxiety disorder, who received either JNJ-42165279, which inhibits the activity of FAAH (fatty acid amid hydrolase), or a placebo this inhibitor of endocannabinoid degradation reduced anxiety to a slightly larger degree than a placebo. The study was conducted by the pharmaceutical company Janssen situated in Belgium in cooperation with the Medical Research Network in New York, USA, and further scientific institutions in the USA and Australia. Symptom intensity was measured by the Leibowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS) and other rating scales before and 12 weeks after initiation of therapy.

The mean change from baseline in LSAS total score at week 12 was numerically greater for JNJ-42165279 (-29.4) compared to placebo (-22.4) but not significant. The percentage of subjects with 30% or better improvement from baseline in the LSAS total score was significantly higher for JNJ-42165279 (42.4%) compared to placebo (23.6%), which was significant (p value = 0.04). Authors concluded that “JNJ-42165279 appears to elicit an anxiolytic effect in subjects with SAD although concentrations with 25 mg once daily appeared to be insufficient to completely inhibit FAAH activity which may have led to suboptimal efficacy.”

Schmidt ME, Liebowitz MR, Stein MB, Grunfeld J, Van Hove I, Simmons WK, Van Der Ark P, Palmer JA, Saad ZS, Pemberton DJ, Van Nueten L, Drevets WC. The effects of inhibition of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) by JNJ-42165279 in social anxiety disorder: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled proof-of-concept study. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2020 Oct 18. [in press]

Science/Human: The initiation of a cannabis therapy reduced alcohol use in a large that cross-sectional study

According to an analysis of 2102 people enrolled in the Canadian medical cannabis program, of whom 973 reported using alcohol, decreases of alcohol consumption or cessation was observed in nearly half of alcohol users. The study was conducted by several scientific institutions in British Columbia, Canada, and the company Tilray. Alcohol users were defined as people using alcohol on at least 10 occasions over a 12 month period prior to initiating medical cannabis.

Overall, 419 (44%) participants reported decreases in alcohol usage frequency over 30 days, 323 (34%) decreased the number of standard drinks they had per week, and 76 (8%) reported no alcohol use at all in the 30 days prior to the survey. Being below 55 years of age and reporting higher rates of alcohol use in the pre-period were both associated with a greater likelihood of reducing alcohol consumption. Authors concluded that since “alcohol is the most prevalent recreational substance in North America, and its use results in significant rates of criminality, morbidity and mortality, these findings may result in improved health outcomes for medical cannabis patients, as well as overall improvements in public health and safety.”
Lucas P, Boyd S, Milloy MJ, Walsh Z. Reductions in alcohol use following medical cannabis initiation: results from a large cross-sectional survey of medical cannabis patients in Canada. Int J Drug Policy. 2020;86:102963.

News in brief

Germany/Uruguay: Medical cannabis from Uruguay now available in Germany
Medical cannabis flower grown in Uruguay recently became available in the German market for the first time. The news sheds light on the final destination of large exports quietly shipped from Uruguay to Portugal at the end of 2019 and earlier this year, as first reported by Marijuana Business Daily. The shipments’ final destinations were unknown at the time. But the latest development shows the product ultimately was headed to Germany. The German subsidiary of Nanaimo, Canada-headquartered cannabis producer Tilray started offering its product – “Tilray Cheese Quake (Indica Strong),” a flower with 22% THC – to German pharmacies on 30 September.
Marijuana Business Daily of 5 October 2020

Science/Human: Legalisation of cannabis for adults in Canada made access to cannabis easier for cancer survivors
Interviews with 33 cancer survivors “revealed that recreational legalization made using cannabis appear safer and easier to access for some cancer survivors. However, physicians' censure of cannabis use for symptom management was a barrier for survivors considering its use.”
Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada.
McTaggart-Cowan H, et al. Cancer Med. 2020 Oct 17. [in press]

Science/Cells: Synergistic action of THC, CBD, CBG and CBN against breast cancer cells
The cannabinoids THC, cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN) showed synergistic effects in causing cell death in a certain breast cancer cell line.
Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Schoeman R, et al. Molecules. 2020;25(20):E4682

Science/Human: Patients with panic disorder present with high endocannabinoid levels
By comparing two groups, researchers found higher endocannabinoid levels in the blood of 36 patients with panic disorder and 26 healthy people. Researchers assume that the endocannabinoid system contributes to the maintenance of panic disorder.
Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University-Mainz, Germany.
Petrowski K, et al. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2020;122:104905

Science/Human: The concentration of anandamide was negatively associated with disease duration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
In a study with 47 patients suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and 19 healthy adults researchers found alterations of endocannabinoid blood levels. The concentrations of anandamide and oleylethanolamide were inversely correlated with disease duration, while palmitoylethanolamine was positively correlated. There was no relationship between endocannabinoid levels and disease severity.
St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute, Spokane, USA.
Carter GT, et al. Muscle Nerve. 2020 Oct 23. [in press]

Science/Cells: Stimulation of the CB2 receptor may reduce bone loss in children with coeliac disease
According to research with cells from healthy people and children with coeliac disease, patients presented with a hyperactivity of osteoclasts and low levels of the CB2 receptor. Osteoclasts promote bone loss. Stimulation of the CB2 receptor reduced activity of these cells.
Department of Woman, Child and General and Specialist Surgery, University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", Italy.
Tortora C, et al. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2020;71(5):633-640

Science/Animal: CBD shows protective effects of the skin against UV irradiation
In a study with nude rats researchers demonstrated that CBD protected skin cells (keratinocytes) from inflammation due to UV irradiation.
Department of Analytical Chemistry, Medical University of Bialystok, Poland.
Atalay S, et al. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2020;192:113656

Science/Human: Heavy cannabis use was associated with changes in certain brain areas
Researchers measured reduced cortical thickness in certain brain areas (temporal, orbitofrontal, and cingulate regions) of 26 people with heavy cannabis use compared to 20 controls. In a neuropsychological test battery they differed only in verbal learning performance and verbal working memory.
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany.
Wittemann M, et al. EUR Addict Res. 2020:1-8.

Science/Human: An oily formulation of CBD and sublingual CBD resulted in similar blood concentrations
Researchers observed similar blood concentrations after administration of a cannabis extract with CBD as a sublingual wafer (25 of 50 mg CBD), oil solution (50 mg CBD) or oromucosal spray (20 mg CBD). Oil solution and sublingual wafer formulations of the extract standardised with CBD were well tolerated and achieved equivalent concentrations of CBD when compared to the oromucosal spray Sativex.
BOD Australia Pty, Sydney, Australia.
Hosseini A, et al. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2020 Oct 19. [in press]

Science/Human: Similar effects of cannabis and tobacco smoke on health of the periodontium
An investigation of 15 heavy tobacco smokers, 15 cannabis smokers, 16 non-smokers with periodontitis and 15 healthy non-smokers showed that cannabis and tobacco have similar negative effects on the periodontium, the tissue that surrounds the teeth.
Eastman Institute for Oral Health, University of Rochester, USA.
Javed F, et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(20):E7435.

Science/Animal: The modulation of the endocannabinoid system may be beneficial in Parkinson’s disease
Research with a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease (PD) suggests that both the “cannabinoid and vanilloid system may be beneficial for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as PD, that are associated with neuroinflammation.”
Department of Neuroscience, Graduate School, School of Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Wi R, et al. J Immunol Res. 2020;2020:5093493.

Science/Human: Legalisation of cannabis in Canada may have increased the risk for hospitalisation in boys less than 15 years
An analysis of cannabis-related hospitalisation rates before and after legalisation of cannabis in Canada revealed that rates increased non-significantly for boys aged 10 to 14 years. There was no effect on girls of the same age as well on girls and boys aged 15 to 19 years.
University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre, Canada.
Auger N, et al. J Addict Med. 2020 Oct 14. [in press]

Science/Human: Photopic vision may be permanently impaired after regular use of cannabis, opioids and ecstasy
An investigation in 110 patients with substance use disorder and 46 non-users showed that photopic vision, that is the vision under optimal light conditions, may be permanently impaired after regular use of cannabis, opioids and ecstasy.
Department of Psychiatry, Adiyaman University, Faculty of Medicine, Adiyaman, Turkey.
Egilmez OB, et al. Psychiatry Investig. 2020 Oct 16. [in press]

Science/Animal: CBD may improve acute respiratory distress syndrome
CBD may ameliorate the symptoms of acute respiratory distress syndrome through regulation of a key peptide, called apelin, which has a significant role in immunity. Authors wrote that “CBD treatment increased the apelin expression significantly, suggesting a potential crosstalk between apelinergic system and CBD may be the therapeutic target in the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as COVID-19 and many other pathologic conditions.”
Dental College of Georgia, University, Augusta, USA.
Salles ÉL, et al. J Cell Mol Med. 2020 Oct 15. [in press]

Science/Human: Regular cannabis use may cause grey matter changes in the brain
A study with 20 heavy cannabis users and 22 non-users revealed alterations of grey matter density by cannabis.
Hunan Institute of Science and Technology, Yueyang, People's Republic of China.
Wu YF, et al. Neuroreport. 2020 Oct 8. [in press]

Science: Biosynthesis of THC acid in yeast
Authors give a review on the possibility to produce THCA and CBDA by yeast.
TU Dortmund University, Technical Biochemistry, Dortmund, Germany.
Thomas F, et al. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2020 Oct 12. [in press]

Science/Human: The use of cannabis during pregnancy may reduce birthweight
An analysis of 10,101 pregnancies, where women had used cannabis before pregnancy but not during pregnancy and 272 pregnancies, where women had used cannabis during pregnancy, indicates “that prolonged use causes more harm, whereas short-term use did not indicate adverse effects on birth outcomes.” Regular cannabis use reduced birthweight.
Department of Addictology, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czechia.
Gabrhelík R, et al. EUR Addict Res. 2020:1-11.

Science: Extracts from non-psychotropic cannabis showed antimicrobial properties
Two standardized extracts from new non-psychotropic cannabis varieties showed “remarkable antioxidant activity and strong antimicrobial properties” against antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
Department of Chemical, Biological, Pharmaceutical and Environmental Sciences, University of Messina, Italy.
Muscarà C, et al. Phytother Res. 2020 Oct 9. [in press]

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Conference 2022

The 12th IACM Conference on Cannabinoids in Medicine will be postponed to autumn 2022 and will be held as a hybrid event in Switzerland and online.

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