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IACM-Bulletin of 18 July 2010

Science/USA: Legalization of cannabis in California would significantly reduce the price and increase use according to a study

Legalizing cannabis in California could reduce prices of the drug while its use could double, research group RAND Corporation reported on 7 July. Voters in the most populous state of the USA will decide in a November referendum on whether to make the use and cultivation of cannabis legal. Even if it is approved, cannabis would remain illegal under federal law and it is unclear how national authorities might respond. Under the state initiative, local authorities would decide whether to allow sales and cultivation, but all adults would be allowed to use cannabis under state law. A separate state bill would legalize cannabis and tax it at a rate of 50 US Dollars (about 39 EURos) an ounce (28.5 grams), a move a state tax board calculated would raise 1.4 billion dollars.

The RAND study calculated that the untaxed price of high quality cannabis could fall to as low as 38 dollars plus 50 dollars of taxes resulting in 88 dollars (about 70 EURos) per ounce from around 375 dollars (about 290 EURos) per ounce today. "Even under a scenario with high taxes ($50 per ounce) and a moderate rate of tax evasion (25 percent), researchers cannot rule out consumption increases of 50 percent to 100 percent, and possibly even larger," RAND said in a statement. However such estimates were imprecise because legalization would be such an unprecedented move, researchers said. California could become a big exporter of cannabis and imports from Mexico would dramatically drop.

More at:
- www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6664IV20100707
-hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_MARIJUANA_LEGALIZATION?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=news_generic.htm

(Sources: Reuters of 7 July 2010, Associated Press of 7 July 2010)

News in brief

World/Israel: Cannabinoid conference
To honour Dr. Raphael Mechoulam a conference on "Cannabinoids in Biology and Medicine" will be organized by the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in conjunction with the Israel Science Foundation on 31 October to 4 November 2010. Prof. Mechoulam will celebrate his 80th birthday on 5 November 2010. For information on the conference please visit: www.as.huji.ac.il/isf/cannabinoids/.

USA: Oregon
Obtaining an Oregon medical-cannabis card no longer will be limited to Oregon residents. As part of a review of otherwise routine changes proposed in the rules, the Department of Justice has advised the Department of Human Services that the 1998 law authorizing medical cannabis is not limited to residents of the state. As of 1 July 2010, there were 36,380 card holders. More at: oregon.gov/DHS/ph/ommp/data.shtml (Source: Statesman Journal of 10 July 2010)

USA: Montana
A Montana group is shutting down its travelling medical cannabis clinics following criticism that the so-called cannabis caravans have added thousands of people to the state registry without conducting thorough patient screenings. The Montana Caregivers Network has hosted the one-day clinics in hotels and conference centres across Montana for more than a year. For a fee of 150 US Dollars (about 116 EURos), the group brought together those seeking to become medical cannabis patients with doctors willing to prescribe the drug. (Source: Associated Press of 10 July 2010)

Science: Cognition
According to research at the Columbia University, USA, the acute use of cannabis by regular cannabis users did not significantly alter overall performance accuracy in computerized cognitive tasks. 24 volunteers who reported smoking about 24 cannabis cigarettes per week participated in tests where they received either placebo or cannabis cigarettes. (Source: Hart CL, et al. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2010 Jun 18. [in press])

Science: Personalized medicine
In an editorial Dr. Onaivi from William Paterson University in Wayne, USA, suggests that it may be possible to identify patients who respond to a therapy with cannabinoids or other substances that modulate the endocannabinoid system by examining genetic variables and mutations of the endocannabinoid system. (Source: Onaivi ES. Pharmacogenomics 2010;11(7):907-10.)

Science: Cannabichromene
Researchers of the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, USA, investigated the pharmacology of the natural plant cannabinoid cannabichromene (CBC). CBC was active in the tetrad test, which consists of the following four endpoints: hypomotility, antinociception, catalepsy, and hypothermia. This effect was increased by a low dose of THC. In addition, CBC elicited anti-inflammatory effects. CBC effects were not mediated by CB1 or CB2 receptors. (Source: Delong GT, et al. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2010 Jul 8. [in press])

Science: Fatty acids
According to research at the Wageningen University, The Netherlands, highly unsaturated fatty acids in fish oil are partly converted into ethanolamines in the body. These ethanolamines possess anti-inflammatory properties, which may contribute to the beneficial health effects of these fatty acids. They may bind to cannabinoid receptors. Authors suggest that "different targets, including the endocannabinoid system, may be involved in the immune-modulating activity" of these fish-oil-derived ethanolamines. (Source: Balvers MG, et al. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2010 Jul 2. [in press])

Science: Fibrosis
According to animal research at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, activation of the CB1 receptor increased the negative consequences in bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis, while mice without CB1 receptors were protected from these consequences. Authors concluded that "inactivation of CB1 exerts potent anti-fibrotic effects in inflammation-driven models of fibrosis." (Source: Marquart S, et al. Arthritis Rheum. 2010 Jul 8. [in press])

Science: Pregnancy
Exposition to cannabis before birth may be associated with deficits in later life. Researchers of the University of Pittsburgh, USA, followed children with prenatal exposure to different drugs until the age of 16. As was the case for prenatal tobacco exposure, cannabis exposure was also associated with deficits in visual-motor coordination. (Source: Willford JA, et al. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2010 Jun 30. [in press])

Science: Liver injury
Researchers at the INSERM, France, investigated the impact of CB2 receptors on the regenerative process associated with liver injury following acute hepatitis induced by a chemical in mice. Treatment with a synthetic CB2 receptor agonist (JWH-133) reduced liver injury and accelerated liver regeneration. (Source: Teixeira-Clerc F, et al. Hepatology 2010 May 25. [in press]

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