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IACM-Bulletin of 25 May 2008

USA: Barack Obama might stop federal prosecutions in states with a medical cannabis law, if elected president

According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle Senator Barack Obama has become an increasingly firm advocate of ending federal intervention and letting states make their own rules when it comes to medical cannabis. His Democratic rival, Senator Hillary Clinton, is less explicit, recently softening a pledge she made early in the campaign to halt federal raids in states with medical cannabis laws. Senator John McCain of the Republican party has gone back and forth on the issue - promising a medical cannabis patient at one campaign stop that seriously ill patients would never face arrest under a McCain administration, but ultimately endorsing the Bush administration's policy of federal raids and prosecutions.

Only Obama's campaign responded to recent questions from the San Francisco Chronicle about states who have legalized the medical use of cannabis. Campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said, "Obama supports the rights of states and local governments to make this choice - though he believes medical marijuana should be subject to (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) regulation like other drugs." He said the FDA should consider how cannabis is regulated under federal law, while leaving states free to chart their own course. LaBolt also said Obama would end Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids on medical cannabis suppliers in states with their own laws. Hereupon, Senator Obama was attacked in a press release by the Republican National Committee saying his position on the DEA raids "raises serious doubts" about an Obama candidacy.

More at:

(Sources: San Francisco Chronicle of 12 May 2008, Press release of the RNC of 14 May 2008)

Science: Dronabinol effective in the treatment of vocal tics and dystonia in a patient with multiple sclerosis

Researchers from Washington DC, USA, presented a case report of a 52-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis, paroxysmal dystonia, complex vocal tics, and cannabis dependence. The patient received oral dronabinol in capsules. She reported a dramatic reduction of craving for cannabis, but did not experience psychic effects with the oral medication in contrast to inhaled dronabinol with smoking of cannabis. She also reported an improvement in the quality of her sleep with diminished frequency of awakenings during the night, a decrease in vocal tics and in the associated inner tension, decreased anxiety and a decreased frequency of paroxysmal dystonia.

Dronabinol (THC) is a natural cannabinoid of the cannabis plant, the trans-isomer of delta-9-THC. Marinol, the medical THC preparation of Solvay Pharmaceuticals, contains dronabinol, which is wholly manufactured synthetically. Dronabinol may also be extracted from the cannabis plant, as done by the Dutch company Echo Pharmaceuticals, and it may be produced by isomerisation of cannabidiol extracted from fibre hemp as done by the German companies THC Pharm and Bionorica Ethics. Sativex of the British company GW Pharmaceuticals contains a cannabis extract with equal amounts of dronabinol and cannabidiol.

(Source: Deutsch SI, Rosse RB, Connor JM, Burket JA, Murphy ME, Fox FJ. Current status of cannabis treatment of multiple sclerosis with an illustrative case presentation of a patient with ms, complex vocal tics, paroxysmal dystonia, and marijuana dependence treated with dronabinol. CNS Spectr 2008;13(5):393-403.)

News in brief

USA: Minnesota
Fifty religious leaders throughout the state of Minnesota are urging the Minnesota House of Representatives to pass a bill to allow seriously ill patients to use medical cannabis with a doctor's recommendation. Clergy from nine denominations (United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, Union for Reform Judaism, Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, as well as clergy from Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, and Baptist congregations) endorsed a statement, which reads, "Licensed medical doctors should not be punished for recommending the medical use of marijuana to seriously ill patients, and seriously ill patients should not be subject to criminal sanctions for using marijuana if the patient's physician has told the patient that such use is likely to be beneficial." (Source: MPP of 12 May 2008)

Science: Inflammation of the bowel
Animal experiments show that cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic cannabinoid, reduces increased motility of the inflammed bowel. Researchers concluded, that "cannabidiol may represent a good candidate to normalize motility in patients with inflammatory bowel disease." (Source: Capasso R, et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2008 May 12. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science: Anxiety
Previous research has shown that the activation of the cannabinoid-1 receptor facilitates the extinction of conditioned fear in animals. New research confirms these results and shows that there are long-lasting effects. This may be the reason why cannabis products may be beneficial in post-traumatic stress disorder. (Source: Pamplona FA, et al. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2008 May 15. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science: Pain
Acetaminophen (paracetamol) is the most used analgesic drug. This effect is abolished by blocking of the CB1 receptor. Acetaminophen does not bind to CB1 receptor, but its metabolite AM404 is an reuptake inhibitor of endocannabinoids, thus increasing their effects, and an agonist at the vanilloid receptor. (Source: Mallet C, et al. Pain. 2008 May 14. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science: Ultraviolet-induced inflammation
Researchers of the University of Minnesota demonstrated that ultraviolet irradiation directly activates cannabinoid receptors. The absence of cannabinoid receptors in mice resulted in a dramatic resistance to UVB-induced inflammation and in a decrease in UVB-induced skin cancer. (Source: Zheng D, et al. Cancer Res 2008;68(10):3992-8.)

Science: Atherosclerosis
Researchers of the National Institutes of Health in Baltimore, USA, found out, that heavy cannabis users have an increased blood level of the protein apolipoprotein C-III. This protein is a risk factor for the development of atherosclerosis. (Source: Jayanthi S, et al. Mol Psychiatry. 2008 May 13. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

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