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IACM-Bulletin of 20 November 2011

USA: Legal action by advocates of medical cannabis use against crackdown on cannabis dispensaries in California

Attorneys for medical cannabis advocates on 7 November sought a temporary restraining order to put a stop to a federal crackdown on California cannabis dispensaries, claiming the effort by the state's four U.S. attorneys is unconstitutional. Plaintiffs asked U.S. District Court Judge Donna Ryu in Oakland to issue an order barring the government from arresting or prosecuting patients, dispensary owners or landlords of properties housing dispensaries.

The four federal prosecutors for California last month announced a broad effort to close cannabis clubs, in particular by sending letters to landlords who rent space to cannabis dispensaries threatening to seize their property under federal drug trafficking laws. Lawsuits of advocates of medicinal cannabis accuse the Federal Department of Justice of entrapping cannabis providers by reversing its own policy. "The conduct of the government officials and their statement led the nation to believe that the government had changed its policy in 2009, ensuring that those who comply with state medical cannabis laws would not be subject to federal prosecution," according to the suits. Medical cannabis advocates hailed the 2009 memorandum by the Department of Justice as the fulfilment of an Obama campaign promise to respect state law on medical cannabis.

More at:

(Source: Associated Press of 7 November 2011)

News in brief

USA: Rhode Island
Rhode Island did not find increases in cannabis use by adolescents related to the state's 2006 legalization of medical cannabis, researchers say. Dr. Esther Choo from Rhode Island Hospital, and co-authors of a study on the issue said state-level legalization of medical cannabis five years ago raised concerns about increased accessibility and appeal of the drug to youth. The researchers compared trends in adolescent cannabis use in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, which has no medicinal cannabis law, between 1997 and 2009. The analysis of data on 32,570 students found that there were no statistically significant differences in cannabis use between states in any year. (Source: Health News of 6 November 2011)

Norway: Medicinal use
Cannabis as medicine is a controversial issue in Norway. Several Norwegian doctors prescribe cannabis preparations to their patients on medical grounds, although it is not approved in the Norwegian market. The Health Ministry must approve the treatment, while a number of criteria must be met. In addition, patients must pay for drugs, which they can import from other EURopean countries. Dr. Nils Olav Aanonsen, chief physician at Ullevål University Hospital in Oslo is one of the doctors who have prescribed cannabis preparations to their patients. Aanonsen believes the Norwegian regulations on cannabis preparations are too strict. He welcomes a new debate to approve cannabis preparations on the Norwegian market. Aanonsen estimates that about 500 Norwegians had need of cannabis preparations. (Source: adressa.no of 10 November 2011)

USA: Washington
On 15 November federal agents and police raided state-sanctioned medical cannabis dispensaries in the Seattle area in the state of Washington. The Cannabis Defense Coalition, a non-profit advocacy group for cannabis, said on its website that 15 cannabis dispensaries in at least six western Washington cities were raided. (Source: Reuters of 16 November 2011)

Europe: Sativex
The EURopean Patent Office has granted a patent which protects the composition of the Sativex formulation. This patent has already been granted in the United States. In addition, Sativex is protected by a number of other patents related to different aspects of the product, including rights for certain plant varieties. (Source: GW Pharmaceuticals of 17 November 2011)

Science: Intelligence
According to researchers of Cardiff University, UK, intelligence is a risk factor for cannabis use. In a group of 7904 British citizens who were followed since birth in 1970, in participants with a higher IQ at age 5 and 10, cannabis use at age 30 was twice as high as in participants with lower IQ. (Source: White J & Batty GD. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2011 Nov 14. [in press])

Science: Anxiety
Animal research at the University of Nottingham, UK, showed that chronic administration of cannabidiol (CBD) increased anxiety in rats. Rats were treated for 14 days with CBD. Researchers concluded that "chronic administration of CBD produced an anxiogenic-like effect in clear opposition to the acute anxiolytic profile previously reported." (Source: Elbatsh MM, et al. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2011 Nov 15. [in press])

Science: Migraine
Research at the University of Leuven, Belgium, showed that there was an increase binding to the CB1 receptor in the brains of 20 female migraine patients compared to healthy subjects. Scientists concluded that the increased CB1 receptor binding, especially in brain regions that modulate pain, "supports the idea that endocannabinoid deficiency is present in female patients suffering from episodic migraine." (Source: Van der Schueren BJ, et al. Headache. 2011 Nov 11. [in press])

Science: Fatty liver
According to animal research at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, USA, inhibition of endocannabinoid degradation increases production of triglycerides in the liver and induces insulin resistance. These effects were mediated by increased CB1 receptor signalling. In insulin resistance cells do no longer respond adequately to insulin, which usually serves to bring glucose into the cells. Insulin resistance results in increased blood glucose concentrations. (Source: Ruby MA, et al. PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e26415.)

Science: THC in urine
According to investigations at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, the antiretroviral drug efavirenz, which is used in the treatment of AIDS, may cause positive results in urine screenings for THC. Thus, people who use efavirenz may erroneously be regarded as cannabis users. (Source: Oosthuizen NM, et al. Ann Clin Biochem. 2011 Nov 8. [in press])

Science: FAAH inhibitor
Animal research at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, USA, shows that administration of an inhibitor of endocannabinoid degradation (phenylmethyl sulfonyl fluoride, PMSF) increases the effects of THC. PMSF increases the concentration of the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA). Researchers wrote that "increased AEA levels may have acted additively with exogenously administered cannabinoids to increase cannabimimetic effects. These findings may account for the varying effect in response to marijuana in humans or cannabinoids in animals while also suggesting that metabolic inhibitors of AEA may potentiate marijuana's intoxicating effects in humans." (Source: Vann RE, et al. Neuropharmacology. 2011 Oct 31. [in press])

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