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IACM-Bulletin of 25 August 2013

USA: Sanjay Gupta of CNN says that Americans have been systematically misled about cannabis

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, apologized for opposing the medical use of cannabis and stated "I did part of that misleading." He apologized for publicly opposing cannabis legalization, saying there was "no scientific basis" to claim cannabis had no medical benefits. "We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that," he wrote in a post on 8 August on CNN.com. He noted the high rates of prescription drug deaths, and said, "I couldn’t find one documented case of someone dying of a marijuana overdose." In January 2011, Gupta was named "one of the 10 most influential celebrities" by Forbes magazine.

He said he did not look hard enough at research on the topic, and found some new research that had been done since then. He was encouraged to look into the issue further upon meeting a 5-year-old girl in Colorado for whom medical cannabis has sharply cut down on the amount of seizures she had been suffering. Time spent with her and others made him realize that medical professionals should be responsible for providing the best care possible, and that could include cannabis.

UPI of 8 August 2013

Science/USA: The implementation of medical cannabis laws was associated with reduced alcohol use and reduced traffic fatalities

Legalisation of medical cannabis use was associated with reduced alcohol use and reduced fatal traffic accidents. This is the result of a study by scientists of Montana State University, the University of Oregon, and the University of Colorado, who assessed data regarding both alcohol consumption and traffic fatality rates for the years 1990 to 2010. Scientists noted that the first full year after coming into effect, legalization of medical cannabis “was associated with an 8–11 percent decrease in traffic fatalities.”

Authors wrote that “legalization is also associated with sharp decreases in the price of marijuana and alcohol consumption, which suggests that marijuana and alcohol are substitutes.” They concluded “that alcohol is the likely mechanism through which the legalization of medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities. However, this conclusion does not necessarily imply that driving under the influence of marijuana is safer than driving under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol is often consumed in restaurants and bars, while many states prohibit the use of medical marijuana in public. If marijuana consumption typically takes place at home or other private locations, then legalization could reduce traffic fatalities simply because marijuana users are less likely to drive while impaired." Traffic fatalities are the leading cause of death among Americans ages 5–34.

Anderson DM, Hansen B, Rees DI. Medical marijuana laws, traffic fatalities, and alcohol consumpion. J Law Econom 2013;56(2):333-69.

Please see also IACM-Bulletin of 4 December 2011.

News in brief

France: Colloquium on 2 October
The associations Action Sida Ville and UFCM-I Care (Union Francophone pour les Cannabinoïdes en médecine-I Care) are organising a colloquium on the medical use of cannabis in Strasbourg on 2 October 2013. Among the speakers are Dr Gianpaolo Grassi, Tjalling Erkelens, Dr Guillermo Velasco and others. Please see here the program.

USA: Oregon legalizes medical cannabis dispensaries
Governor John Kitzhaber signed a bill on 14 August giving the state authority to license, inspect and audit stores selling cannabis. Medical marijuana patients currently are required to grow the drug themselves or designate someone to grow it for them. Dozens of cannabis dispensaries exist already, but they are not explicitly allowed and operate in a legal gray area. Oregon is joining several other states allowing cannabis dispensaries.
Associated Press of 14 August 2013.

Science/Animal: The neuroprotective effects of minocycline involve cannabinoid receptors
New research provides the first evidence for the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in the neuroprotective action of the medicinal drug minocycline on brain edema and neurological impairment after traumatic brain injury. The effects of minocycline could be blocked by antagonists of the CB1 and CB2 receptor.
Faculty of Biology, Complutense University of Madrid, Spain.
Lopez-Rodriguez AB, et al. Cereb Cortex. 2013 Aug 19. [in press].

Science/Animal: Neuropathic pain in patients with neuromyelitis optica is controlled by an endocannabinoid
Neuromyelitis optica or Devic’s disease is a condition consisting in the simultaneous inflammation and damage of the optic nerve and the spinal cord and often associated with neuropathic pain. New research in patients shows that the pain is associated with the blood levels of the endocannabinoid 2-AG.
Institute for Clinical Neuroimmunology, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Germany.
Pellkofer HL, et al. PLoS One 2013;8(8):e71500..

Science/Animal: The 5-HT1A receptor is involved in the anxiolytic effects of CBD
Research with mice shows that the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor is involved in the anxiolytic effects of CBD (cannabidiol). Blocking of this receptor reduced the anti-panic effects of this natural cannabinoid.
Department of Pharmacology, Ribeirão Preto Medical School of the University of São Paulo, Brazil.
Twardowschy A, et al. 2013 Aug 7. [in press].

Science/Animal: The effects of CBD on movements are mediated by the 5-HT1A receptor
New research with rats shows that CBD has direct effects on movements. Scientists wrote that their research results “suggest that CBD may influence motor activity, in particular vertical activity, and that this effect seems to be dependent on its ability to target the 5-HT1A receptor, a mechanism of action that has been proposed to account for its anti-emetic, anxiolytic and antidepressant effects.”
Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain.
Espejo-Porras F, et al. Neuropharmacology. 2013 Aug 4. [in press].

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