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IACM-Bulletin of 15 November 2015

Germany: The government plans the reimbursement of cannabis flowers and other cannabis-based medicines by the health insurances in certain cases and the creation of a state cannabis agency

Germany plans to set up a state cannabis agency to regulate the drug's cultivation and distribution to pharmacies, according to a draft bill. Details are not known, yet. More patients would be given regulated access to the drug on prescription and paid for by their health insurance under measures outlined in a draft bill from the ministry of health. So far about 500 patients suffering from at least 60 different diseases, including chronic pain, inflammatory diseases, psychiatric conditions, neurological diseases, appetite loss and nausea have been legally authorised to obtain cannabis at their own expense, because other treatments are not effective enough. The plans would involve the state cannabis agency determining the price that health insurance companies would have to pay.

This development is the latest stage of a 15-year long battle of patients before the courts. Following a complaint before the Federal Constitutional Court on 14 December 1999 by eight patients, the court ruled that patients may apply for a certificate of exemption for the use of cannabis flowers to the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices. However, the Institute, a body of the Federal Health Ministry, rejected all applications. It argued that patients may be prescribed dronabinol. On 9 May 2005 the Federal Administrative Court ruled that the government cannot refer to a medication, which is “neither readily available nor affordable by normal citizens.” First exemptions were granted in 2007. However, many patients cannot afford to buy cannabis in the pharmacy and asked the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices for approval to self-cultivate the drug. On 22 July 2014 the Lower Administrative Court of Cologne ruled that patients should be granted such a permission to make a cannabis treatment possible for them. The government appealed the ruling, but it is generally expected that the government will finally loose the trial before the Federal Administrative Court. To avoid self-cultivation of cannabis by patients the government is forced to allow patients adequate access to a treatment by reimbursement of cannabis flowers. Given the dynamic increase of cannabis patients it is intendent to grow the cannabis in Germany in the medium-term to insure supply.

Daily Telegraph of 1 November 2015

Colombia: The government wants to legalize the commercial sale of cannabis for medicinal purposes

Colombia's government plans to legalize the cultivation and sale of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes, officials said on 12 November. It is expected that President Juan Manuel Santos will soon sign the law. It will regulate everything from licensing for growers to the eventual export of products made from cannabis, Justice Minister Yesid Reyes said.

With the new policy, Colombia joins countries such as Uruguay and Chile that experiment with legalization or decriminalization as part of a wave of changing attitudes toward drug use and policies to combat it in Latin America. But unlike many of its neighbours, Colombia has long been a strong advocate of prohibition to prevent drug production.

Associated Press of 12 November 2015

Mexico: Citizens should have the right to grow cannabis for personal use, the Supreme Court rules

The Mexican Supreme Court opened the door to legalizing cannabis on 5 November, delivering a pointed challenge to the nation’s strict narcotics laws. The vote by the court’s criminal chamber declared that individuals should have the right to grow and distribute cannabis for their personal use. While the ruling does not strike down current drug laws, it lays the groundwork for a wave of legal actions that could ultimately rewrite them, proponents of legalization say.

The decision reflects a changing dynamic in Mexico, where for decades the American-backed antidrug campaign has produced much upheaval but few lasting victories. Today, the flow of drugs to the United States continues, along with the political corruption it fuels in Mexico. The country, dispirited by the ceaseless campaign against traffickers, remains engulfed in violence. “It’s the drama behind all of our efforts,” said Juan Francisco Torres Landa, a lawyer, who was one of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case.

The New York Times of 5 November 2015

News in brief

Holland: Survey on medical use of cannabis
The Stichting IOCOB is conducting a survey on the medical use of cannabis in the Netherlands. Patients may participate here.

USA: Hillary Clinton supports a change of the narcotics law to facilitate research into the medicinal benefits of cannabis
Speaking at a campaign event the Democratic presidential candidate said changing U.S. rules would acknowledge the drug's potential for medical uses and give scientists access to the drug for further investigation.
Reuters of 8 November 2015

Science/Cells: How cannabidiol may be beneficial in Parkinson’s disease
Researchers investigated the neuroprotective effects of CBD (cannabidiol) against MPP (1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium) and found that neuronal proteins and NGF receptors (trkA) are involved. They reported that these mechanisms “might contribute to its neuroprotection against MPP(+), a neurotoxin relevant to Parkinson's disease.”
School of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Brazil.
Santos NA, et al. Toxicol In Vitro. 2015 Nov 7. [in press]

Science/Human: When chocolate increases endocannabinoid levels
In 10 satiated obese subjects the phase before consumption of chocolate and the consumption of chocolate increased blood levels of the endocannabinoids anandamide (AEA) and 2-AG (2-arachidonoyl-glycerol). Authors concluded that “motivation to eat” is generated by “a peripheral activation of specific endogenous rewarding chemical signals.”
Department of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, University of Milan, Italy.
Rigamonti AE, et al. Food Nutr Res 2015;59:29678.

Science/Animal: CBD applicated by the skin reduced pain and inflammation in arthritis
CBD gels were applied to rats suffering from arthritis, which resulted in reduction of joint swelling, pain, infiltration of immune cells and reduction of pro-inflammatory mediators, including the cytokine TNF-alpha (tumour necrosis factor alpha).
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, Lexington, USA.
Hammell DC, et al. EUR J Pain. 2015 Oct 30. [in press]

Science/Animal: Fear extinction by the anti-depressant fluoxetine involves endocannabinoids
Research in mice revealed that a chronic treatment with the anti-depressant fluoxetine induced increases in the endocannabinoid anandamide in a certain brain region (amygdala). However, blockade of the CB1 receptor prevented fear extinction by fluoxetine.
National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, NIH, Bethesda, USA.
Gunduz-Cinar O, et al. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015 Oct 30. [in press]

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