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IACM-Bulletin of 09 June 2002

USA: Protests against raids of medical marijuana clubs

Activists criticize the federal government's plans to crack down on medical marijuana clubs (cooperatives that grow cannabis and distribute it to patients) in California. They launched nationwide protests at Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) offices. Protests happened on 6 June outside of about 60 DEA headquarters around the country.

On 29 May federal agents raided the Aiko Compassion Center in Santa Rosa, California, and arrested two of the owners. The raid is the fourth since October 2001, following raids of medical cannabis clubs in Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco.

Five supporters of the sale of marijuana for medical purposes at the Los Angeles Cannabis Resources Center launched an "open-ended hunger strike" on 5 June. The centre was shut down in October 2001 when federal agents seized files, plants and other assets.

(Sources: Los Angeles Times of 6 June 2002, Reuters of 6 June 2002, Associated Press of 31 May 2002)

Canada: Civil suit against federal government regulations

Seven Canadians who use or distribute medical marijuana are asking the Ontario Superior Court to strike down federal access regulations and to order the federal government to provide them with cannabis. They argue that the federal regulations are fundamentally unconstitutional, depriving the applicants of "life and liberty," guaranteed under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The regulations, set up to provide sick people with legal access to marijuana, have made obtaining the drug difficult because the government is demanding medical declarations that few doctors will sign, the group of seven told a Queen's Park news conference on 23 May.

The Canadian Medical Association and the insurer for Canadian doctors have warned physicians against signing the declarations. However, Andrew Swift, a health department spokesperson, said some doctors have signed. Since the regulations were introduced last summer, 255 people have been granted permission to use medical marijuana.

(Sources: Toronto Star of 24 May 2002, Globe and Mail of 24 May 2002)

News in brief

Switzerland: Lectures on cannabis as medicine
On 15 and 16 June Hemp Info (Chanvre Info) is organizing lectures on Hemp in Medicine. The meeting will take place in the premises of Hemp Info in the Ch‚teau au Prehl 53 near Murten. Among the speakers are Dr. Claude Vaney, Dr. Jens Wagner, Dr. Joerg Fachner, Dr. Oleg Grigoriev, Dr. Sergej Grigoryev, and Dr. Ester Fride.

Science: Pain in spinal cord injury
471 persons with spinal cord injuries were asked about their experience with different pain treatments. The treatments rated as most helpful were opioid medications, physical therapy, and diazepam therapy. Those rated as least helpful were spinal cord stimulation, counselling or psychotherapy, administration of acetaminophen, and administration of amitriptyline. Alternative treatments reported as most helpful were massage therapy and use of cannabis. (Source: Warms CA, et al. Clin J Pain 2002 May-Jun;18(3):154-63)

Science: Prenatal cannabis exposure
This report from a longitudinal study of the effects of prenatal alcohol and marijuana exposure investigated whether these drugs affect neuropsychological development at 10 years of age. 593 children completed a neuropsychological battery. Prenatal alcohol use was found to have a significant negative impact on learning and memory skills. Prenatal marijuana exposure also had an effect on learning and memory. (Source: Richardson GA, et al. Neurotoxicol Teratol 2002 May-Jun;24(3):309-20)

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