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IACM-Bulletin of 27 December 2015

Colombia: President Santos legalizes the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes

On 22 December President Juan Manuel Santos signed a decree that legalizes the medical use of cannabis, a move he says does not weaken the government's fight against illicit crops and drug trafficking. "Allowing the use of marijuana does not go against our international commitments to control drugs or against our policy of fighting drug trafficking," Santos told reporters after signing the decree.

Growing, distributing and selling cannabis remain illegal. Current law allows possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis or 20 cannabis plants for personal use. The government said some companies, including foreign ones, are interested in producing and selling cannabis. There are no plans to fully legalize cannabis for recreational consumption or commercial sale.

Reuters of 22 December 2015

Denmark: The parliament is considering allowing the medicinal use of cannabis

On 11 December parliament has started debating a law proposal by Alternativet to legalise cannabis for medicinal use. Sophie Løhde, the health minister, has expressed opposition to the bill, but a number of other parties stand behind Alternativet and could force it through with a slim parliamentary majority. Dansk Folkeparti, Liberal Alliance, Socialistisk Folkeparti and Radikale have all expressed support for Alternativet’s proposal. Together they represent 88 votes in Parliament, which is precisely the number needed to pass a law.

In its remarks to the law proposal presented to Parliament, Alternativet highlights there is growing evidence of the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis. “Even though medicinal cannabis is prohibited in Denmark, almost one in 14 Danes have either used or know someone who uses the treatment form anyway. Many of them say this type of treatment is successful and these stories back up more and more research that shows that cannabis used for medicinal purposes can relieve and alleviate pain with many disorders and illnesses,” it stated.

The Copenhagen Post of 11 December 2015

News in brief

Science/Germany: Large study on cannabis extract in Tourette syndrome gets green light
A placebo-controlled study with the cannabis extract Sativex in 96 patients suffering from tic disorders or Tourette syndrome has received financial support by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) of 1.4 million EURos, lead researcher Dr Kirsten Müller-Vahl, professor of neurology and psychiatry at the Medical School of Hannover said. Seven centres will participate in the study (Hannover, Luebeck, Aachen, Munich, Ulm, Freiburg, Cologne). Half of the patients will receive up to 12 sprays of Sativex (one spray containing 2.7 mg THC and 2.5 mg CBD) for nine weeks after finishing a dose-finding phase and the other half will receive a placebo. The whole study will take about three years and Dr Müller-Vahl, who is also second chairwoman of the IACM, hopes to start in the second half of 2016.

USA: The use of cannabis by adolescents remained stable in 2015
A decades-long decline in drinking and smoking by adolescents continued in 2015 in the USA, while cannabis consumption continues to remain stable as in the previous five years, according to results of a study released on 16 December. "After rising for several years, the annual prevalence of marijuana has more or less levelled out since about 2010," the report said.
Reuters of 16 December 2015

USA: DEA eases research into the benefits of CBD
The drug authority of the Ministry of Justice (DEA, Drug Enforcement Administration) relaxed some restrictions on research evaluating CBD (cannabidiol). The modifications will ease some requirements imposed by the Controlled Substances Act on possession of CBD for clinical research approved by the agency on medicinal drugs (Food and Drug Administration).
Reuters of 23 December 2015

Science/Animal: Chronic THC treatment reduces energy intake and body weight in obese mice
In a study mice, that received a high fat diet, were treated with THC for 3 weeks. THC reduced weight gain, fat mass gain and energy intake in obese but not in lean mice. Authors wrote that “changes in gut microbiota potentially contribute to chronic THC-induced actions on body weight in obesity.”
Hotchkiss Brain Institute and Snyder Institute of Chronic Diseases, University of Calgary, Canada.
Cluny NL, et al. PLoS One 2015;10(12):e0144270.

Science/Human: Cannabis use associated with an earlier onset of schizophrenia
In a study with 1119 patients with schizophrenia cannabis use was associated with a significantly earlier age of disease onset of about 3 years.
Division of Psychiatry, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.
Helle S, et al. Schizophr Res. 2015 Dec 9. [in press]

Science/Human: People with a first episode of psychosis react differently to cannabis as healthy subjects
In 252 patients with a first episode of psychosis both 'bad' and 'enjoyable' experiences after cannabis use were more commonly reported than in 217 healthy subjects. Authors wrote that these “results suggest a higher sensitivity to cannabis effects among people who have suffered their first psychotic episode.”
Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, UK.
Bianconi F, et al. Psychol Med. 2015 Dec 16:1-9. [in press]

Science/Human: Endocannabinoids in human milk
12 endocannabinoids and related compounds were detected in human milk with the highest levels being found for 2-AG (2-arachidonoylglycerol) and 17(R)-hydroxydocosahexaenoic acid, respectively. After storage concentrations decreased rapidly, depending on temperature.
Department of Chemistry, Umeå University, Sweden.
Wu J, et al. Prostaglandins Other Lipid Mediat. 2015 Dec 2. [in press]

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