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IACM-Bulletin of 21 April 2013

USA: Maryland will become the 19th state to legalize the medical use of cannabis

The Maryland legislature approved the use of cannabis for medical purposes on 8 April, and Governor Martin O'Malley has said he would sign the measure and make Maryland the next state to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis. The Democratic-controlled state Senate passed the bill by a 42-4 vote. The House of Representatives had approved it last month.

The measure allows seriously ill residents to obtain medical cannabis via state-regulated programs administered by academic medical centres. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia already allow the medical use of cannabis: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Reuters of 8 April 2013

USA: For the first time a majority support general legalization of cannabis

For the first time in more than four decades of polling on the issue, a majority of Americans favour legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. A national survey found that 52% say that the use of cannabis should be made legal while 45% say it should not. Support for legalizing cannabis has risen 11 points since 2010. The change is even more dramatic since the late 1960s. A 1969 Gallup survey found that just 12% favoured legalizing cannabis use, while 84% were opposed.

The survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted in March among 1,501 adults, found that young people are the most supportive of cannabis legalization. Fully 65% of those born since 1980 and now between 18 and 32 favour legalizing the use of cannabis, up from just 36% in 2008. Yet, there also has been a striking change in long-term attitudes among older generations.

Pew Research Center

News in brief

Science/Animal: CBD attenuates memory deficits caused by THC
In a study with rhesus monkeys 0.2 or 0.5 mg THC per kg body weight injected into their muscles affected performance in several tasks of learning and memory. Simultaneous injection of CBD at a dose of 0.5 mg/kg body weight attenuated the effects of THC on learning. Authors concluded “that CBD can oppose the cognitive impairing effects of THC, it does so in a task-selective manner, when administered simultaneously and at a 1:1 ratio with THC.”
The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, USA.
Wright Jr MJ, et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2013 Mar 28. [in press]

Science/Human: No association between cannabis variety and medical condition
In a study covering 5540 patients, who used prescribed cannabis in the Netherlands between 2003 and 2010 “no significant association between use of medication of common indications for cannabis (pain, HIV/AIDS, cancer, nausea, glaucoma) and variety of cannabis used” was found “although the cannabis varieties studied are believed to possess different therapeutic effects based on their different content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).”
Department of Plant Metabolomics, Leiden University, the Netherlands.
Hazekamp A, et al. EUR J Clin Pharmacol. 2013 Apr 16. [in press]

Science/Animal: CB1 receptors in skin cells reduce allergic reaction
In animal studies with mice it was shown that cannabinoid-1 receptors are found on skin cells and help to limit the secretion of pro-inflammatory substances that regulate T cell-dependent inflammation in allergic reactions of the skin.
Department of Dermatology and Allergy, University Bonn, Germany.
Gaffal E, et al. J Immunol. 2013 Apr 12. [in press]

Science/Human: Psychotic patients, who stopped cannabis use, had less psychotic symptoms
In a study with 314 newly diagnosed patients with psychosis those, who stopped cannabis use had a lower level of psychotic symptoms 5 years later than those, who continued cannabis use. Authors noted that “this association was only partly explained by insufficient antipsychotic medication” in cannabis users.
Psychiatric Center Copenhagen, Copenhagen University, Denmark.
Clausen L, et al. Psychol Med. 2013 Apr 16:1-10. [in press]

Science/Human: Levels of anandamide decreased in cerebrospinal fluid of regular cannabis users
Lower levels of anandamide in cerebrospinal fluid and higher levels of 2-AG in blood were observed in frequent compared with infrequent cannabis users. In addition, authors found that “higher levels of anandamide are associated with a lower risk of psychotic symptoms following cannabis use.”
Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit, UCL, London, UK.
Morgan CJ, et al. Br J Psychiatry. 2013 Apr 11. [in press]

Science/Human: Cannabis use had a negative effect on cognition of patients with schizophrenia but not on healthy people
42 patients with schizophrenia and 42 healthy subjects were followed for 10 years to investigate the effect of cannabis use on cognitive performance. There was a negative effect of cannabis use on performance in one task in the patient group. In the control group, cannabis use did not influence cognitive performance. Authors assume that these differences “can be explained by the negative impact of illness on cognition.”
Complejo Hospitalario de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.
Sánchez-Torres AM, et al. EUR Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2013 Apr 12. [in press]

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