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IACM-Bulletin of 31 July 2011

USA: Governor of New Jersey approves law on the medical use of cannabis

Doctors in New Jersey will be allowed to prescribe cannabis to seriously ill people after Governor Chris Christie said on 19 July he will let new legislation originally signed by his predecessor be implemented. New Jersey will join 15 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing cannabis for medical use, although the New Jersey legislation is more restrictive than elsewhere. Only patients in New Jersey suffering from specific ailments such as HIV, cancer and multiple sclerosis can be prescribed cannabis, and then only after other treatments have failed. The law also is the first in the nation to prohibit patients from growing their own crop at home.

"I had to balance the benefit that will go to citizens in pain versus some potential risks to the folks that we're authorizing as dispensaries and to state employees," Christie said, referring to the possible risk of federal prosecution faced by dispensaries. In the end, Christie concluded that dispensaries operating within state law were unlikely to encounter problems with federal authorities. The law was signed by Christie's predecessor, Jon Corzine, shortly before leaving office in January 2010. After Christie became governor, he delayed the law's implementation, saying it needed amending.

More at:
- www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/19/us-medical-marijuana-newjersey-idUSTRE76I6KR20110719

(Sources: Reuters of 19 July 2011, Associated Press of 19 July 2011)

Science: According to a survey cannabis use is common in patients with inflammatory bowel disease

Researchers at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada, and the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, UK, investigated the use of cannabis in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. 100 patients with ulcerative colitis and 191 patients with Crohn's disease attending a clinic completed a questionnaire regarding current and previous cannabis use, socioeconomic factors, disease history and medication use.

A comparable proportion of patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease reported lifetime (51 per cent and 48 per cent) or current (12 per cent and 16 per cent) cannabis use. Of lifetime users, 33 per cent of patients with colitis ulcerosa and 50 per cent of patients with Crohn's disease have used it to relieve symptoms related to inflammatory bowel disease, including abdominal pain, diarrhoea and reduced appetite. Patients were more likely to use cannabis for symptom relief if they had a history of abdominal surgery and chronic analgesic use. Researchers concluded that "cannabis use is common amongst patients with IBD for symptom relief, particularly amongst those with a history of abdominal surgery, chronic abdominal pain and/or a low quality of life index."

(Source: Lal S, Prasad N, Ryan M, Tangri S, Silverberg MS, Gordon A, Steinhart H. Cannabis use amongst patients with inflammatory bowel disease. EUR J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011 Jul 26. [in press])

Science: Similar to THC other cannabinoids of the cannabis plant readily penetrate into the brain

The pharmacokinetics (behaviour of a substance in the body) of cannabidiol (CBD), cannabidivarine (CBDV), delta-9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (delta-9-THCV) and cannabigerol (CBG) in mice and rats were investigated at the University of Aberdeen, UK. Researchers determined concentrations in the brain after intraperitoneal (injection into the abdomen) and oral administration. The effects of CBD were further investigated in an animal model of obsessive compulsive behaviour.

All phytocannabinoids readily penetrated the blood-brain barrier. In rats, oral administration offered higher brain concentrations for CBD and CBDV, but not for delta-9-THCV and CBG, for which the intraperitoneal route was more effective. CBD inhibited obsessive-compulsive behaviour in a time-dependent manner matching its concentration in the brain.

(Source: Deiana S, Watanabe A, Yamasaki Y, Amada N, Arthur M, Fleming S, Woodcock H, Dorward P, Pigliacampo B, Close S, Platt B, Riedel G. Plasma and brain pharmacokinetic profile of cannabidiol (CBD), cannabidivarine (CBDV), Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and cannabigerol (CBG) in rats and mice following oral and intraperitoneal administration and CBD action on obsessive-compulsive behaviour. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2011 Jul 28. [in press])

News in brief

Denmark: Sativex
Sativex is now also available in Danish pharmacies. In EURope it is already available in the UK, Spain and Germany. (Source: Press release by GW Pharmaceuticals of 18 July 2011)

Israel: Cannabis agency
In the coming weeks the government is expected to decide on establishing a state agency which will be responsible for issues concerning the medical use of cannabis. At a conference on 13 July at Hadassah-University Hospital in Ein Kerem, Dr. Yehuda Baruch, director of a psychiatric hospital, who has in the last two years been responsible for the matter, predicted the number of authorizations could reach 40,000 in five years. (Source: Jerusalem Post of 15 July 2011)

USA: Washington
Seattle's mayor signed into law on 27 July a licensing system for cannabis distribution for medicinal purposes. The City Council passed the ordinance unanimously on July 19, nearly three months after Washington's governor signed into law a state-wide measure allowing cities to regulate and license production, processing and distribution of medical cannabis on a limited basis. Seattle is the largest city of the State of Washington. (Source: Reuters of 28 July 2011)

UK: Survey
An online survey is conducted at the University of Kent, UK, on patient preferences in the selection of cannabis strains. The survey is available at: tinyurl.com/Survey-Cannabis. (Source: Personal communication by Vanessa Mardones of the University of Kent)

Science: Stress
According to animal research at the Laboratorio Neuroquimica in Caracas, Venezuela, stress increases the concentration of endocannabinoids, modulating the release of the neurotransmitter GABA from nerve cells, in the olfactory bulb, which is responsible for smell. (Source: Delgado A, et al. Int J Cell Biol. 2011:529851. (in press)

Science: Cocaine dependency
According to research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore, USA, the administration of a synthetic CB2 receptor agonist (JWH133) reduced the self-administration of cocaine in mice. (Source: Xi ZX, et al. Nat Neurosci. 2011 Jul 24. [in press])

Science: Glaucoma
The effects of some non-psychotropic cannabinoids on intraocular pressure were investigated at the Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, in animals. So-called abnormal cannabidiol and a synthetic analogue of cannabigerol reduced intraocular pressure in rats independent of known cannabinoid receptors. (Source: Szczesniak AM, et al. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Jul 19. [in press])

Science: Short-term memory
According to research at the Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, USA, the elevation of the anandamide concentration in rats reduced short-term memory as is known for THC. (Source: Goonawardena AV, et al. Neuropharmacology. 2011 Jul 13. [in press])

Science: Phthalate
According to research at the Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, phthalates act as weak CB1 receptor antagonists. Phthalates are mainly used as plasticizers (substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity). Their use decreases due to health concerns. (Source: Bisset KM, et al. Neurochem Int. 2011 Jul 7. [in press])

Science: Ecstasy
Animal research at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, USA, suggests that "chronic co-administration of THC during adolescence can provide some protection against various adverse physiological, behavioral, and neurochemical effects produced by MDMA" (ecstasy). (Source: Shen EY, et al. Neuropharmacology. 2011 Jul 13. [in press])

Science: Inflammation of the lung
According to research at the Mossakowski Medical Research Centre PAS, Poland, anandamide enhanced the concentration of so-called heat-shock proteins (Hsp70 and Hsp25) in the lungs. These proteins protect against lung inflammation. (Source: Kopczyńska B, et al. EUR J Pharmacol. 2011 Jul 8. [in press])

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