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IACM-Bulletin of 11 August 2013

USA: Illinois is the 20th state to legalize the medical use of cannabis

A law allowing cannabis to be used for medical purposes in Illinois was signed on 1 August by Governor Pat Quinn, making it the second most populous state in the country after California to permit medicinal use of the drug. "Over the years, I've been moved by the brave patients and veterans who are fighting terrible illnesses," Quinn said. "They need and deserve pain relief." The law, which takes effect on 1 January, allows patients diagnosed with one of 35 medical conditions such as cancer, Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis to use cannabis as recommended by an Illinois licensed physician.

The program, which supporters call the strictest in the nation, requires a doctor's written certification, registered patient photo identification cards and an electronic verification system. Nineteen other states plus the District of Columbia have effective medical cannabis laws. Under the Illinois law, patients would be limited to 2.5 ounces (70 grams) of cannabis every two weeks. The cannabis must be grown and distributed in Illinois.

Reuters of 1 August 2013

Science/Human: Cannabis extract does not damage cognitive abilities in long-term study

The cannabis extract Sativex had no negative effect on cognition. This is the result of a 12 month placebo-controlled study in 121 patients with spasticity due to multiple sclerosis, the company GW Pharmaceuticals announced in a press release. It says that “the study results confirm the reassuring safety profile of Sativex and provide further evidence of long-term efficacy.”

The study was required as a post-approval commitment by the UK regulatory authority with the primary objective of evaluating whether Sativex may have long term adverse effects on cognitive function or mood. There was a slight improvement in cognition from the beginning to the end of the study in both the Sativex and placebo groups. Similarly, the change in mood over the 12 month period was more or less identical in the Sativex and the placebo group.

Press release by GW Pharmaceuticals of 5 August 2013

News in brief

Uruguay: President to defend cannabis legalisation plan at United Nations
Uruguayan President Jose Mujica plans to defend his government's ground-breaking cannabis licensing plan in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September, his spokesman said on 2 August. Uruguay's lower house of Congress voted on 31 July to create a government body to control the cultivation and sale of cannabis and allow residents to grow it at home or as part of smoking clubs. The Senate will vote on the measure later this year.
Associated Press of 2 August 2013

USA: Washington D.C. begins sale of medical cannabis
The District of Columbia has recorded its first legal sale of medical cannabis in at least 75 years, officials said. A 51-year-old man purchased slightly less than a half-ounce of cannabis on 29 July from the Capital City Care dispensary. The shop offers three strains, priced from 380 to 440 dollars an ounce (about 28 grams).
UPI of 30 July 2013

Science/Human: THC influences endocannabinoid concentrations
The administration of a single oral dose of 20 mg THC to 30 healthy volunteers resulted in higher circulating concentrations of the endocannabinoids anandamide, 2-AG, palmitoyl ethanolamide, and oleoylethanolamide at 2 and 3 hours after administration as compared with placebo. Authors concluded that “exogenous cannabinoids may lead to changes in the endocannabinoid system that can be detected in plasma.”
Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Walter C, et al. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2013 Jul 29. [in press]

Australia: The cannabinoid content of cannabis in Australia
The mean cannabinoid content of 206 cannabis samples that had been confiscated by police was 14.9% for THC, 0.14% for CBD, 1.9% for CBG (cannabigerol) and very low for other cannabinoids
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
Swift W, et al. PLoS One 2013;8(7):e70052.

Science/Animal: THC and CBD reduce the pro-inflammatory substance interleukin 17
In studies with mice both THC and CBD (cannabidiol) dose-dependently suppressed the production and secretion of the cytokine interleukin 17 (IL-17). This pro-inflammatory substance is increased in inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Pre-treatment with CBD also resulted in increased levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10.
Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel.
Kozela E, et al. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2013 Jul 28 [in press]

Science/Animal: THCA reduces nausea in animal models
THCA (tetrahydrocannabinol-acid), a non-psychotropic precursor of THC in the cannabis plant, which is transformed to THC by heating, reduced nausea-like behaviour in rats and shrews. This effect was mediated by the CB1 receptor. Authors concluded that “THCA may be a more potent alternative to THC in the treatment of nausea and vomiting.”
Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Canada.
Rock E, et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2013 Jul 25. [in press]

Science/Animal: Local THC application reduced inflammation caused by allergies
Local application of THC reduced inflammation in allergic contact dermatitis in mice independent of cannabinoid receptors and by decreasing pro-inflammatory mediators in skin cells. Authors wrote that these results have “important implications for the future development of strategies to harness cannabinoids for the treatment of inflammatory skin diseases.”
Laboratory of Experimental Dermatology, Department of Dermatology and Allergy, University of Bonn, Germany.
Gaffal E, et al. Allergy. 2013 Jul 29. [in press]

Science/Animal: COX-2 inhibitors reduce anxiety by increasing endocannabinoid concentration
Augmentation of endogenous cannabinoid signalling was induced by inhibition of the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and this reduced anxiety in mice. Authors concluded that this “represents a viable approach for eCB augmentation with broad therapeutic potential.”
Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, USA.
Hermanson DJ, et al. Nat Neurosci. 2013 Aug 4. [in press]

Science/Human: Cannabis use in schizophrenia is associated with improved emotional memory
In a study with 14 cannabis-using schizophrenia patients, 14 non-using schizophrenia patients and 21 healthy controls emotional memory and functioning in a certain brain region (prefrontal lobe) were preserved in cannabis-users relative to non-user patients.
Centre de recherche Fernand-Seguin, Montreal, Canada.
Bourque J, et al. Psychiatry Res. 2013 Jul 29. [in press]

Science/Animal: THCV and CBDV reduce nausea
In animal models of nausea the natural cannabinoids cannabidivarin (CBDV) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) suppressed nausea-like behaviour in animals. Authors concluded that “these compounds may have therapeutic potential in reducing nausea.”
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of Guelph, Canada.
Rock EM, et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2013 Jul 31. [in press]

Science/Animal: CBDV shows anti-epileptic potential
In three mouse models of epilepsy the natural cannabinoid cannabidivarin (CBDV) reduced convulsions. These effects were not mediated by the cannabinoid-1 receptor. Authors wrote that “these findings strongly support the further clinical development of CBDV (…) for treatment of epilepsy.”
Reading School of Pharmacy, University of Reading, UK.
Hill TD, et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2013 Jul 31. [in press]

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