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IACM-Bulletin of 06 August 2000

IACM: First meeting at the Bioresource HEMP in September

The Board of Directors of the IACM would like to invite those interested in the medical use of cannabis and the cannabinoids to participate in a first informal meeting of the IACM in Wolfsburg/Germany.

We want to use the evening (8 p.m - 10 p.m.) of the cannabinoid day (September 16) at the Bioresource HEMP 2000 for a first exchange of ideas. The IACM wants to contribute to the world wide co-operation in this area. This includes exchange of information on clinical trials, dissemination of information on benefits and side effects of cannabinoids, support in attempts to improve the legal situation for patients who profit from the plant or single constituents.

There is the idea to form an advisory board that comprises representatives from as many as possible countries. There are first ideas to form regional sections in some countries outside the German language region.

The second issue of the printed IACM-News (German and English version) will soon be available for members of the IACM and upon request. Please mail to: info@acmed.org.

Canada: Highest Court of Ontario calls marijuana law unconstitutional

The Ontario Court of Appeal called Canada's marijuana law "unconstitutional" because it fails to take into account the needs of sick Canadians who use the drug as medicine. In the decision of 31 July it said that marijuana possession will be legal in Ontario if Parliament does not amend the law within 12 months.

The court was ruling on the case of Terry Parker, a Toronto epileptic who smokes marijuana to control his violent seizures. Mr. Parker was charged with cultivation of marijuana and won that case in 1997 before a lower court, but the government appealed.

Judge Rosenberg, in writing for the majority of the judges, stated that the court was satisfied Mr. Parker needs marijuana to control his seizures, and that he should have legal access to the drug. The three judges of the court found the outright ban of marijuana forced Mr. Parker to choose between his health and imprisonment. That is inconsistent with the principles of justice.

It is not enough, the court ruled, for the federal health minister to provide special dispensation to people who have a medical requirement to use the drug. The court gave the government a year to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, amend the law or simply let it die.

Parker will be exempt from Canada's marijuana laws while Parliament attempts to rewrite the laws. "This decision will open doors across the country for sick Canadians who need cannabis to help alleviate symptoms such as nausea and vomiting," said Parker's lawyer Aaron Harnett.

(Sources: Reuters of 31 July 2000, UPI of 31 July 2000, Toronto Star of 1 August 2000, Vancouver Sun of 2 August, NORML of 2 August 2000)

Germany: Four days Bioresource HEMP with one day on cannabinoids

The world?s largest scientific-technical symposium on HEMP, Bioresource HEMP, will open its doors for the third time in 2000. September 13-16, 2000 as part of the EXPO-2000. A total of about 70 technical presentations will be given.

The Conference Program on 16 September 2000 includes:

SEEDS AND OIL
with Gordon Scheifele (Canada), Roman Przybylski (Canada), Helga Mölleken (Germany), Peter Looser (Switzerland)

CANNABINOIDS AND FOOD
with Gero Leson (USA), Petra Pless (USA), Gordon Scheifele (Canada) Peter Dragla (Canada), Michael Karus (Germany), Michael Preidl (Germany)

CANNABIS AND CANNABINOIDS IN MODERN MEDICINE
with Martin Schnelle (Germany), Kathleen Boyle (USA), Pascal Hilber (France), Robert Gorter (USA/Germany), Kirsten Müller-Vahl (Germany), Richard E. Musty (USA), Franjo Grotenhermen (Germany), Tod H. Mikuriya (USA), David W. Pate (The Netherlands), Vincenzo Di Marzo (Italy), Willem K. Scholten (The Netherlands)

More information at: www.bioresource-HEMP.de/

Science: Enhanced levels of endocannabinoids in the globus pallidus associated with reduction in movement in an animal model of Parkinson's disease

The high density of CB1 cannabinoid receptors within the basal ganglia suggests a potential role for endocannabinoids in the control of voluntary movement and in basal ganglia-related movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease.

Recently Dr. Vincenzo Di Marzo and colleagues reported the presence of endocannabinoids in two regions of the basal ganglia, the globus pallidus and substantia nigra. The levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide were approximately threefold higher than those previously reported in any other brain region.

In the reserpine-treated rat, an animal model of Parkinson's disease, suppression of locomotion is accompanied by a sevenfold increase in the levels of the of the endocannabinoid 2AG in the globus pallidus. Full restoration of locomotion in the reserpine-treated rat was obtained by coadministration of quinpirole (an agonist of the dopamine receptor) and the CB1 receptor antagonist SR141716A.

These findings indicate that modulation of the endocannabinoid signalling system might prove useful in treating Parkinson's disease.

(Source: Di Marzo V, et al. Enhanced levels of endogenous cannabinoids in the globus pallidus are associated with a reduction in movement in an animal model of Parkinson's disease. FASEB J 2000;14:1432-1438)

News in brief

Spain:
A poll of Sigma Dos showed that 64.6% of the Spanish population support legal access to cannabis for sick people, only 6.1% were opposed to any legal possibility. (Source: Cáñamo magazine, August 2000)

Spain:
The Spanish Society for Palliative Care (SECPAL) demand legal medical use of marijuana by the terminally ill. At the third national congress of the association their President Marcos Gómez highlighted the benefits of cannabis in appetite loss, nausea and vomiting, painful conditions, and anxiety. Illegality would make the "very useful" product inaccessible for many people who need it. He reported to the audience of about 100 experts of the positive effects patients experienced with smoked marijuana in some centres for palliative medicine. Besides, patients who used marijuana needed less other drugs. (Source: Cáñamo magazine, July 2000)

USA:
The Federal Justice Department has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower court ruling that would allow the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative to resume dispensing medical marijuana to patients. A September ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that federal drug laws did not bar claims of "medical necessity" for patients who require marijuana to alleviate pain. But the Justice Department said on 28 July that the ruling was in error, and told the Highest Court of the USA that such allowances for marijuana distribution would "threaten the government's ability to enforce the federal drug laws." (Source: Arizona Daily Star of 30 July 2000)

A glimpse @ the past

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