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IACM-Bulletin of 10 October 2010

Luxembourg: Chairman of the UFCM prosecuted for the prescription of cannabis

After a recent television interview on the prescription of cannabis to patients from Luxembourg Dr. Jean Colombera, physician and member of the Luxembourgian Parliament, is prosecuted due to the violation of the narcotics law. Dr. Colombera is chairman of the UFCM (Union Francophone pour les Cannabinoďdes en Médecine; French Speaking Union for Cannabinoids in Medicine). He is prescribing cannabis to patients since 18 months, who get their drug (Bedrocan, Bediol) in Dutch pharmacies. The Health Minister of Luxembourg is upset by the behaviour of Dr. Colombera.

He has decided to make public his action to shed light on the actual situation, Dr. Colombera said in a statement. He is now accused to have prescribed and imported illegal substances and to have prescribed too high amounts. He is now unable to continue the prescription leaving several of his patients in a difficult and sometimes desperate situation.
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(Sources: Pesonal communication by Dr. Colombera of 8 October 2010, communications by the UFCM)

USA: California reduces penalties for the possession of cannabis

The Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill reducing penalties for possession of cannabis, saying it will help conserve "limited" court resources. Schwarzenegger, who opposes a referendum that would legalize recreational use of cannabis, signed the bill on 30 September. Beginning on 1 January 2011, the law reclassifies possession of an ounce (about 28 grams) or less of cannabis from a misdemeanour to an infraction, with violators subject to fines of as much as 100 US Dollars but no jail sentences.

"Notwithstanding my opposition to Proposition 19, however, I am signing this measure because possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is an infraction in everything but name," Schwarzenegger said. "In this time of drastic budget cuts, prosecutors, defence attorneys, law enforcement, and the courts cannot afford to expend limited resources prosecuting a crime that carries the same punishment as a traffic ticket."

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(Source: UPI of 1 October 2010)

USA: New Jersey will have one of the strictest laws on the medical use of cannabis in the USA

In January 2010 the former Governor Jon Corzine signed the legislation allowing the medical use of cannabis in New Jersey making it the 14th state of the USA to allow patients to use the drug. However, getting into New Jersey’s medical cannabis program will be tough: Patients must have one of nine diseases or conditions and their doctors must have been treating them for at least a year, seen them four times and be willing to vouch that traditional forms of relief have failed.

Once they pass the scrutiny of a state-appointed review panel, patients can either go to one of four dispensaries or arrange to get their medicine delivered to their home, according to the state Department of Health and Senior Services, which on 6 October released the highly anticipated rules for what patients, advocates and lawmakers call the most restrictive medical cannabis program in the country. Patients are expected to start getting cannabis not before summer 2011. The Health Department will select just two growers to supply four non-profit dispensaries.

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(Source: Star-Ledger of 6 October 2010)

News in brief

USA: Colorado
Colorado wants to set up a tracking system of medical cannabis purchases to deter people from buying vast amounts of cannabis and selling it on the black market. Patients and cannabis advocates fear they will be harassed by a Big Brother-type intrusion as computers and video cameras monitor every ounce of cannabis sold in the state. Officials are also considering fingerprinting cannabis patients and keeping tabs on cannabis with radio-frequency devices. (Source: Associated Press of 29 September 2010)

USA: New Mexico
The New Mexico programme on medical cannabis currently comprises 2,500 licensed patients and 11 certified producers. The annual cost of running the program is about 700,000 to 800,000 US Dollars (about 500,000 to 570,000 EURos). (Source: Santa Fe New Mexican of 30 September 2010)

Science: Alzheimer's disease
At the Institute of Neuroscience, Ireland, scientists investigated the effects of endocannabinoids in the pathology of Alzheimer's disease. In Alzheimer's disease amyloid-beta is produced causing nerve cell death. They demonstrated that the endocannabinoid system can stabilize lysosomes, certain compounds within the cells, against the toxicity of amyloid-beta. They noted that "stabilisation of lysosomes with endocannabinoids may represent a novel mechanism by which these lipid modulators confer neuroprotection." (Source: Noonan J, et al. J Biol Chem. 2010 Oct 5. [in press])

Science: Pain
According to animal research at the University of Wisconsin, USA, the CB2 receptor plays a role in modulating neuropathic pain in spinal cord injury. They concluded that "selective activation of the CB2 receptor could potentially lead to analgesic effects on NP [neuropathic pain] while avoiding psychotropic side effects in patients with SCI [spinal cord injury]." (Source: Ahmed MM, et al. Spine J. 2010 Sep 30. [in press])

Science: Dyskinesia
Research at the National University of Ireland, Galway, with a rat model of Parkinson's disease showed that the blockade of CB1 receptors can unmask levodopa-induced abnormal involuntary movements, and "this finding suggests that endocannabinoid tone may confer protection against the development of levodopa-induced dyskinesias." Levodopa is an important drug used to treat Parkinson's disease, which itself may cause movement disorders (dyskinesias). (Source: Walsh S, et al. Brain Res. 2010 Sep 29. [in press])

Science: Cannabidiol
Research at the University College London, UK, with 134 cannabis users showed that users who smoked cannabis with relatively high CBD content presented with lower memory-impairing effects than those smoking low CBD cannabis. Researchers concluded that "the antagonistic effects of cannabidiol at the CB1 receptor are probably responsible for its profile in smoked cannabis, attenuating the memory-impairing effects of THC." (Source: Morgan CJ, et al. Br J Psychiatry 2010;197(4):285-90.)

Science: Atherosclerosis
According to animal research at the University of Xi'an, China, the synthetic cannabinoid WIN55,212-2 reduced the development of atherosclerosis in the aorta. This effect was mediated by the CB2 receptor and based on anti-inflammatory effects of the cannabinoid. (Source: Zhao Y, et al. EUR J Pharmacol. 2010 Sep 21. [in press])

Science: Sweet taste
According to research at Kuyushu University, Japan, leptin and the endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG (2-arachidonoyl glycerol) have opposite effects on sweet taste response in animals. Leptin is known to reduce appetite and the perception of sweet foods, while endocannabinoids do the opposite. (Source: Niki M, et al. Results Probl Cell Differ. 2010;52:101-14.)

Science: Costs of prohibition
According to a report by the Cato Institute, USA, "legalizing drugs would save roughly $41.3 billion [about 30 billion EURos] per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition. Of these savings, $25.7 billion would accrue to state and local governments, while $15.6 billion would accrue to the federal government." Legalizing cannabis alone would net 8.7 billion US Dollars [about 6.2 billion EURos] a year in reduced law enforcement spending and increased taxes. (Source: www.cato.org)

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