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IACM-Bulletin of 03 May 2015

Jamaica: Justice Minister plants first legal cannabis plant for medicinal purposes

Justice Minister Mark Golding firmed a cannabis plant into the soil at the University of the West Indies Mona campus on 27 April, in a ceremonial planting. It was the first cannabis seedling to be legally planted in the country, following the passage of a law, which legalises the production of medical cannabis.

The university has been granted permission by the government to cultivate the drug for research and to "set the pace for the development of a legal cannabis industry." "We have to start this way, so that we can set the stage for full commercialization," Science Minister Philip Paulwell, who was also there, said. Jamaica's University of Technology will also begin growing cannabis and carrying out research. Jamaica's legislative changes also include legalization for religious purposes and decriminalisation of possession of two ounces (56.7g) of the drug.

Independent of 28 April 2015

Science/Human: Psychotic experiences and cannabis use in adolescents are based on common risk factors

Cannabis use by adolescents does not cause psychotic experiences. Instead, cannabis use and psychotic experience co-occur due to environmental factors. This is the result of research by scientists of the University of London, King’s College London and other British institutions published in the journal Psychiatry Research. Psychotic experiences were measured in 4830 twin pairs 16 years of age using self-reports and parent-reports.

Cannabis use was significantly correlated with psychotic experiences. Heritability (37%), common environmental influences (55%) and individual environment (8%) were found for cannabis use. For different psychotic experiences, heritability (27-54%), individual environmental influences (12-50%) and common environmental influences (11-42%) were reported as causes. Environmental influences explained all of the correlation between cannabis use and paranoia, cognitive disorganization and negative symptoms (e.g. depression) reported by parents, whilst the relationship between cannabis use and hallucinations indicated familial influences. Authors concluded that “focus on specific environments may reveal why adolescent cannabis use and psychotic experiences tend to travel together.”

Shakoor S, Zavos HM, McGuire P, Cardno AG, Freeman D, Ronald A. Psychotic experiences are linked to cannabis use in adolescents in the community because of common underlying environmental risk factors. Psychiatry Res. 2015 Apr 14. [in press]

USA: President Obama offers support for the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes

President Barack Obama offered qualified support for efforts made in the U.S. Senate to decriminalize medical cannabis during an interview for CNN's documentary "Weed 3: The Marijuana Revolution" aired on 19 April. Hosting the program was Dr Sanjay Gupta, the network's chief medical correspondent. Gupta asked the president about his opinion on the proposed Carers Act of 2015, a Senate bill that would change federal law regarding state-legal, medical cannabis programs. The bill would allow states to legalize cannabis for medical use without federal interference, increase research into cannabis’ medical benefits, and reclassify its status as a dangerous drug.

Obama replied: "You know, I think I'd have to take a look at the details, but I'm on record as saying that not only do I think carefully prescribed medical use of marijuana may in fact be appropriate and we should follow the science as opposed to ideology on this issue, but I'm also on record as saying that the more we treat some of these issues related to drug abuse from a public-health model and not just from an incarceration model, the better off we're going to be." Introduced in March, the Senate bill seeks to classify cannabis not as a Schedule I substance but as a Schedule II substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which has five different categories of drugs and drug ingredients. The reclassification would give scientists more possibilities to do research into the medical benefits of cannabis.

International Business Times of 19 April 2015

News in brief

Science/Animal: THC inhibits tumour growth in skin cancer (melanoma)
In mice THC significantly inhibited tumour growth of transplanted melanomas, and this effect was mediated by cannabinoid receptors. Authors wrote that these “results confirm the value of exogenous cannabinoids for the treatment of melanoma.”
Department of Dermatology and Allergy, University of Bonn, Germany.
Glodde N, et al. Life Sci. 2015 Apr 25. [in press]

USA: Most citizens support legalization of cannabis
Most citizens say that cannabis is safer than alcohol and 53% answered “yes” to the question "Should marijuana use be legal?" according to nationwide polling data compiled by CBS News. 43% oppose legalization. That is the highest level of support ever recorded by CBS polls.
CBS News of 20 April 2015

Canada: Vancouver wants to regulate cannabis dispensaries
The federal Health Minister is warning Vancouver’s mayor not to regulate the city’s illegal medical cannabis dispensaries, which she says would encourage drug use and increase addiction. Health Minister Rona Ambrose made her remarks in a strongly worded letter to Mayor Gregor Robertson on 23 April, one day after the city announced details of a proposed licensing system for cannabis-related businesses. The city says its proposal is a public-safety response to the rapid growth of such businesses, from 20 in 2012 to 80 today.
The Globe and Mail of 23 April 2015

Chile: First harvest of cannabis for medicinal purposes
The first around 100 kilos of cannabis flowers was harvested this month from a farm in La Florida, a middle-class neighbourhood of Chile’s capital Santiago, and sent to a laboratory for processing. Scientists plan to extract the active ingredients from the cannabis for use in the treatment of 200 cancer patients who signed up via the local healthcare system or through the foundation.
Reuters of 28 April 2015

Australia: Victoria and Queensland announce medicinal cannabis trials
Victoria and Queensland join New South Wales in decriminalising cannabis oil for the treatment of chemotherapy-related nausea and severe epilepsy as well as in palliative care. Both states have joined New South Wales in taking part in a clinical trial for the use of medicinal cannabis. New South Wales announced that it would hold clinical trials for the substance in December last year, and the premiers of Queensland and Victoria said they had decided to hold similar trials.
The Guardian of 19 April 2015

USA: Second phase 3 trial on CBD extract in epilepsy has been started
The British company GW Pharmaceuticals announced that it has initiated the second Phase 3 clinical trial of its CBD rich cannabis extract Epidiolex for the treatment of Dravet syndrome, a form of childhood epilepsy.
GW Pharmaceuticals of 21 April 2015

USA: FDA has granted orphan drug designation for CBD for use in treating new-born children with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
The British company GW Pharmaceuticals has been granted orphan drug designation for cannabidiol (CBD) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA, the medicine’s agency of the USA) for use in treating new-born children with neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. This is an acute or sub-acute brain injury due to suffocation caused during the birth process and resulting from deprivation of oxygen during birth (hypoxia). GW has developed an intravenous CBD formulation for use in this patient population. The company wants to commence a Phase 1 trial in the second half of 2015.
GW Pharmaceuticals of 24 April 2015

Science/Animal: An endocannabinoid reduces inflammatory response in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease
An inhibitor of monoacylglycerol lipase (JZL184), which causes an increase in the level of the endocannabinoid 2-AG, decreased the pro-inflammatory reactions of microglia cells of the brain in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.
University of Turku, Finland.
Pihlaja R, et al. J Neuroinflammation 2015;12(1):81.

Science/Animal: The anti-epileptic effects of pregabalin may be increased by cannabinoids
In a mouse model of epilepsy the combination of the anti-epileptic drug pregabalin together with a synthetic CB-1 receptor agonist (ACEA) was more effective than one of the two alone. Authors concluded that this “can be of pivotal importance for epileptic patients as a potentially advantageous combination if the results from this study translate into clinical settings.”
Department of Public Health, Institute of Rural Health, Lublin, Poland.
Florek-Luszczki M, et al. 2015. Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 2015 Apr 21. [in press]

Science/Cells: CBD induces programmed cell death in brain tumour by activation of vanilloid receptors
Cell experiments support a novel mechanism by which CBD induces vanilloid receptor type 2 (TRPV2) dependent autophagy (cell degradation) in glioma cells, a certain form of brain cancer cells.
School of Pharmacy, University of Camerino, Italy
Nabissi M, et al. Int J Cancer. 2015 Apr 22. [in press]

Science/Animal: THC enhances responses of the immune system against HIV
Studies with mice demonstrate that under certain conditions, THC enhances HIV antigen-specific immune responses, which was mediated by several mechanisms, which were dependent and independent from CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA.
Chen W, et al. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2015 Apr 22. [in press]

Science/Animal: The anti-cancer effects of THC may be increased by using nanoparticles
In experiments with lung cancer cells and mice the effects of THC against cancer were increased by loading nanoparticles with THC using so-called PLGA (poly(d,l-lactide-co-glycolide)) nanoparticles.
Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Seville, Spain.
Martín-Banderas L, et al. Int J Pharm 2015;487(1-2):205-212.

Science/Animal: Activation of CB2 receptors reduces cancer pain
Research with rats provides evidence for the persistent participation of inflammation reaction in the progression of bone cancer pain, and demonstrated that a synthetic cannabinoid (JWH-015), which binds to the CB2 receptor reduced the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1beta, IL-6, IL-18, and TNF-alpha) thereby displaying an analgesic effect.
Department of Anaesthesiology, Nanjing University Medical School, China
Lu C, et al. Inflammation. 2015 Apr 21. [in press]

Science/Cells: The flavonoid quercetin exerts anti-cancer effects mediated by the CB1 receptor
Quercetin is a flavonoid, which is widely present in fruits and vegetables. In experiments with human colon cancer cells it showed anti-cancer effects mediated by the CB1 receptor. Flavonoids are plant secondary metabolites and responsible for example for their colours.
National Institute for Digestive Diseases S. de Bellis, Castellana Grotte, Italy.
Refolo MG, et al. J Cell Physiol. 2015 Apr 20. [in press]

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