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IACM-Bulletin of 08 May 2011

Science: Cannabis use reduces symptoms in fibromyalgia patients

An open clinical study with 56 fibromyalgia patients was conducted at the Institut de Recerca Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, Spain, to investigate effects of cannabis on symptoms and quality of life. Half of the patients were cannabis users and 28 were non-users. Information on cannabis use was recorded on a specific questionnaire as well as perceived benefits of cannabis on a range of symptoms using standard visual analogue scales. Cannabis users and non-users completed three questionnaires related to symptoms of fibromyalgia and quality of life.

After 2 hours of cannabis use, visual analogue scales showed a statistically significant reduction of pain and stiffness, enhancement of relaxation, and an increase in somnolence and feeling of well being. Mental health scores in a questionnaire were higher in cannabis users than in non-users. Researchers concluded that "the use of cannabis was associated with beneficial effects on some FM symptoms. Further studies on the usefulness of cannabinoids in FM patients as well as cannabinoid system involvement in the pathophysiology of this condition are warranted."

(Source: Fiz J, Durán M, Capellŕ D, Carbonell J, Farré M. Cannabis use in patients with fibromyalgia: effect on symptoms relief and health-related quality of life. PLoS One 2011;6(4):e18440.)

Holland: Citizens may possess up to five cannabis plants, the high court ruled

Private individuals can grow up to five cannabis plants at home before facing criminal charges, no matter how big the yield is, the high court ruled on 26 April. However, growers will have to hand over the plants to police immediately if they get an official visit, the court said.

The ruling relates to separate home-grown cases dating back to 2006 and 2008. In one case, a man in Roermond was found to have five plants in his garden with a combined yield of 2,180 grams. In the other, a couple were found with five plants yielding 6,712 grams. The public prosecution department had argued that the weight of the yield broke regulations allowing individuals to have up to five grams of cannabis for their own use.


(Source: Dutch News of 26 April 2011)

USA: States reassess cannabis laws after warnings by the federal government

Several states have started reassessing their medical cannabis laws after warnings from the federal government that everyone participating in the distribution of cannabis could be subjected to prosecution. There were ominous-sounding letters from U.S. attorneys in recent weeks. Warnings in Washington state let Governor Chris Gregoire to veto a proposal that would have created licensed cannabis dispensaries.

Gregoire, the chair of the National Governors Association, now says she wants to work with other states to push for changes to federal cannabis laws to resolve the legal disputes caused by what she described as prosecutors reinterpreting their own policies. The Federal Department of Justice said two years ago that it would be an inefficient use of funds to target people who are in clear compliance with state law. But U.S. attorneys have said in their recent memos that they would consider civil or criminal penalties for those who run large-scale operations for cultivation and distribution, even if they are acceptable under state law. In a letter to Gregoire, Washington state's two U.S. attorneys warned that even state employees could be subject to prosecution for their role in cannabis regulation. Letters with various cautions have also gone to officials in California, Colorado, Montana and Rhode Island.

More at:

(Source: Associated Press of 3 May 2011)

USA: Brain cancer in a child improved with cannabis

Cannabis, which a Montana father slipped into his 2-year-old son's feeding tube without informing the doctors saved the boy's life, the father said. Mike Hyde from Missoula said that he had slipped a homemade cannabis preparation into son Cash Hyde's feeding tube twice a day after doctors said the boy would likely die. Two weeks later, Cash, who had a stage 4 brain tumour surrounding his optic nerve and hadn't eaten for 40 days after getting high doses of chemotherapy, was weaned of all the nausea drugs, sitting up and eating again, Hyde told ABC News.

He said the doctors at the Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, called his son's recovery "a miracle." But Hyde's action, while "fascinating," was "somewhat bothersome," a New York doctor and paediatrics professor told the network. Hyde said he didn't tell Cash's doctors about his homemade remedy because the medical use of cannabis is illegal in Utah. But after Cash's remarkable comeback, with no permanent organ damage, Hyde did tell the surprised doctors what he'd done. Cash still has a 50 percent to 80 percent chance the cancer will come back, Hyde told ABC.

More at:

(Source: UPI of 5 May 2011)

News in brief

Science: Pain
According to a clinical study by GlaxoSmithKline the synthetic CB2 receptor agonist GW842166 did not reduce acute pain in people undergoing extraction of the third molar tooth. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study researchers compared the analgesic efficacy of single doses of GW842166 (100 or 800 mg) or ibuprofen with placebo. Ibuprofen was significantly more effective than placebo. All treatments were well tolerated. Authors concluded that "in comparison to ibuprofen, single doses of GW842166 (100 and 800 mg) failed to demonstrate clinically meaningful analgesia in the setting of acute dental pain." (Source: Ostenfeld T, et al. Clin J Pain. 2011 May 2. [in press])

USA: Rhode Island
A researcher at the Rhode Island Department of Health investigated the effects of the state's medical cannabis program. He wrote: "The study findings indicated that 309 different practitioners had certified 980 patients was an indication of a level of program effectiveness meeting patient needs; that there was no indication that patients had been arrested or prosecuted for participating in the program; and that despite ongoing concerns with consistent access to marijuana, patients were pleased that the program existed." (Source: Alexandre CR. Policy Polit Nurs Pract. 2011 Apr 20. [in press])

USA: Montana
A medical cannabis overhaul bill that aims to reduce the number of patients and end cannabis businesses will become law without a veto by the governor. Governor Brian Schweitzer remained critical of the bill that passed the Legislature on 28 April 2011, saying he believes it will prevent access to the drug for some people who need it. But the current law couldn't stand because of the booming cannabis trade that has resulted. The governor said he would have to let the bill go into effect and look to the next Legislature to increase access for patients. The new law will bar cannabis providers from getting paid by patients for cannabis and limit to three the number of people they can give cannabis. It also will limit who qualifies for medical cannabis. (Source: Associated Press of 29 April 2011)

Mexico: Drug war
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox said that the only way to end the drug violence plaguing his country is for the United States to legalize drugs. "As a country, we are going through problems due to the fact that the United States consumes too many drugs," Fox, who served as Mexico's president from 2000-2006, told reporters on 2 May. "I would recommend to legalize, de-penalize all drugs," Fox added. He said the drug violence threatens to rip his country apart. It has claimed more than 37,000 lives in Mexico since 2006. "The question is not what is going on in Mexico, but what is going on in the United States," Fox said. (Source: Reuters of 3 May 2011)

Science: Nerve cell regeneration
The adult medicinal leech central nervous system is capable of regenerating specific synaptic circuitry after a mechanical lesion, displaying evidence of anatomical repair within a few days and functional recovery within a few weeks. Researchers at the University of Lille, France, found out that endocannabinoids play key roles in this regeneration. (Source: Meriaux C, et al. PLoS One 2011;6(4):e18359.)

Science: Cancer of the pancreas
Research at the University of Verona, Italy, demonstrated that the anti-cancer effect of gemcitabine in pancreatic cancer was increased by the addition of cannabinoids. They observed that the combined treatment strongly inhibited growth of human pancreatic tumour cells in nude mice "without apparent toxic effects." (Source: Donadelli M, et al. Cell Death Dis 2011;2:e152.)

Science: Pain
The hormone cholecystokinin modulates pain and anxiety via its functions within brain regions such as the periaqueductal gray (PAG). According to research at the University of Sydney, Australia, its effects are exerted by the endocannabinoid system. They noted that "cholecystokinin has cellular actions within the PAG that can both oppose and reinforce opioid and cannabinoid modulation of pain and anxiety." (Source: Mitchell VA, et al. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 Apr 27. [in press])

Science: Cancer pain
According to research at Nanjing University, China, injection of the CB2 receptor agonist JWH 015 into the spinal canal of mice reduced cancer pain. (Source: Gu X, et al. Anesth Analg. 2011 Apr 25. [in press])

Science: Pain
According to scientists of different medical institutions in the USA an inhibitor of FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase) reversed tactile allodynia in mice caused by lipopolysaccharide. Since FAAH degrades the endocannabinoid anandamide an inhibitor increases the concentration of the endocannabinoid. Allodynia is a pain due to a stimulus which does not normally provoke pain. (Source: Booker L, et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Apr 20. [in press])

Science: Atherosclerosis
According to a study by researchers of the University of Freiburg, Germany, activation of the CB2 receptor was not associated with reduced development of atherosclerosis in mice. Mice fed with a high cholesterol diet for 16 weeks received either the selective CB2 receptor agonist JWH-133 or no treatment. No differences in the damage of the aorta were found between the two groups. (Source: Willecke F, et al. PLoS One 2011;6(4):e19405.)

Science: Tolerance
The effect of a beta lactam antibiotic on the development of tolerance of cannabinoids in mice was investigated by researchers of Trakya University in Edirne, Turkey. While the synthetic cannabinoid WIN 55,212-2 caused tolerance to its analgesic effects within one week the antibiotic ceftriaxone attenuated the development of tolerance to this cannabinoid. (Source: Gunduz O, et al. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2011 Apr 21. [in press])

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