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IACM-Bulletin of 28 September 2008

Sri Lanka: Ministry of Indigenous Medicine wants to grow cannabis for medical purposes

Facing a lack of fresh cannabis for use in traditional Ayurvedic medical preparations, the Ministry of Indigenous Medicine this month announced a plan to grow 4,000 kg a year of cannabis. The ministry wants to be excepted from laws that have made cannabis illegal in Sri Lanka. "We are interested in getting some approval to grow some cannabis with government sponsorship, but there must be controls. It is under study," Asoka Malimage from the Ministry, said.

Ayurveda is a traditional medical system which makes wide use of herbs and natural remedies. In Sri Lanka, ayurveda practitioners outnumber Western-trained doctors. Fresh cannabis fried in ghee, a form of clarified butter, is used in about 18 different traditional medicines for treating a wide variety of ailments, Malimage said. Currently, cannabis seized by the police is used. But this cannabis is old and dried out, said Dr. Dayangani Senasekara, head of the state-run Bandaranaike Memorial Ayurvedic Research Institute in Colombo. The institute is making preparations that use cannabis to treat diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases.

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(Source: Reuters of 25 September 2008)

Holland: Supreme court allows cannabis cultivation for therapeutic use

On 16 September the Supreme Court upheld an appeal court ruling from October 2006 that made it legal for a patient with multiple sclerosis to grow cannabis for therapeutic use. Citing the "exceptional circumstances", the court said it was acceptable for the man to grow the drug without a licence. The man suffered some negative side-effects after taking pharmacy cannabis, and then decided to grow his own cannabis, the supreme court said in a statement.

The judgement followed a decision by the public prosecutor's office to challenge the appeal court's ruling which allowed MS sufferer Wim Moorlag and his wife Klasiena Hooijers to grow cannabis in order to alleviate his symptoms. In the Netherlands the sale and consumption of small quantities of cannabis are permitted in licensed coffee shops. Dutch citizens can legally purchase up to five grams of cannabis per day and be in possession of up to 30 grams for their own personal use without being prosecuted. Growing of cannabis, however, is illegal.

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(Sources: AFP of 16 September 2008, Reuters of 16 September 2008)

Science: Cannabidiol effective against psychotic symptoms in patients with Parkinson's disease in a pilot study

In an open pilot study at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, the natural cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD) was effective in the treatment of psychotic symptoms of patients with Parkinson's disease. Six consecutive patients (four men and two women) with the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease and who had psychosis for at least 3 months were selected for the study. All patients received CBD in flexible doses (starting with an oral dose of 150 mg/day) for 4 weeks, in addition to their usual therapy.

The psychotic symptoms showed a significant decrease under CBD treatment. CBD did not worsen the motor function. No adverse effect was observed during the treatment. Authors concluded that "these preliminary data suggest that CBD may be effective, safe and well tolerated for the treatment of the psychosis in PD."

(Source: Zuardi A, Crippa J, Hallak J, Pinto J, Chagas M, Rodrigues G, Dursun S, Tumas V.Cannabidiol for the treatment of psychosis in Parkinson's disease. J Psychopharmacol. 2008 Sep 18. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

News in brief

Science: Pain
According to research at the Medical University of Warsaw, Poland, the anti-inflammatory pain medication indomethacin increased the anti-hyperalgesic activity of low doses of cannabinoids in an animal model of neuropathic pain. (Source: Bujalska M. Pharmacology 2008;82(3):193-200.)

Science: Bipolar disorder
At the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, the effect of cannabidiol (CBD) on bipolar affective disorder (BAD) was investigated in two patients. Both patients received CBD with a dose up to 1200 mg/day for 24 days without any symptom improvement or side effects. Researchers noted that "these preliminary data suggest that CBD may not be effective for the manic episode of BAD." (Source: Zuardi A, et al. J Psychopharmacol. 2008 Sep 18. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

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