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IACM-Bulletin of 18 October 2015

Croatia: Legalization of limited access to cannabis-based medicines

The Croatian government legalised the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, which may be prescribed to patients suffering from diseases such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, epilepsy or AIDS. The Croatian press reported that for now it will not be offered in pharmacies but through eight pharmaceutical companies.

Under the regulations, doctors will be able to prescribe medicine, teas and ointment containing THC to their patients, while each patient can receive a very limited amount of up to 750 mg of THC per month. The health ministry warned that cannabis does not cure any of the diseases mentioned, but can be used to relieve pain and suffering resulting from certain serious chronic diseases. The ministry also warned that cannabis cultivation in personal spaces will remain illegal.

The Freepress Journal of 15 October 2015

Science/Human: People use cannabis to substitute alcohol, illegal drugs and medicinal drugs

Many patients, who use cannabis, replace other substances, including alcohol, illegal drugs and medicinal drugs by cannabis preparations. This is the result of a survey among 473 adults conducted by Canadian researchers of the Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia at the University of Victoria and other research institutions. This survey with 414 questions was available to Canadians, who used cannabis, online and by hard copy in 2011 and 2012.

87% of respondents substituted alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription drugs by cannabis, with 80.3% reporting substitution for prescription drugs, 51.7% for alcohol, and 32.6% for illicit substances. Authors concluded that “the medical use of cannabis may play a harm reduction role in the context of use of these substances, and may have implications for abstinence-based substance use treatment approaches.”

Lucas P, Walsh Z, Crosby K, Callaway R, Belle-Isle L, Kay R, Capler R, Holtzman S. Substituting cannabis for prescription drugs, alcohol and other substances among medical cannabis patients: The impact of contextual factors. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2015 Sep 14. [in press]

Science/Animal: Euphoria caused by endurance exercise, the runner’s high, is significantly caused by endocannabinoids

The high reported by runners, generally ascribed to endorphins, was found by researchers in Germany to be caused by endocannabinoids, suggesting it is similar to the high people experience after consuming cannabis. Endorphins, natural chemicals produced by the body, have pain relief properties similar to morphine. During intense exercise, the stretching and tearing of muscles causes the body to increase the production of beta-endorphin and anandamide (an endocannabionid). To find out which of the chemicals is responsible for runner's high, researchers at the University of Heidelberg ran three experiments with mice.

They demonstrated that cannabinoid receptors mediate reduction of anxiety and pain after running. “A runner's high is a subjective sense of well-being some humans experience after prolonged exercise," researchers wrote in the study. "For decades, it was hypothesized that exercise-induced endorphin release is solely responsible for a runner's high, but recent evidence has suggested that endocannabinoids also may play a role."

Fuss J, Steinle J, Bindila L, Auer MK, Kirchherr H, Lutz B, Gass P. A runner's high depends on cannabinoid receptors in mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Oct 5. [in press]

UPI of 9 October 2015

News in brief

Chile: Government wants to make cannabis-based medications available
The Chilean Government wants to make cannabis-based drugs available. It wants to modify a decree on medical cannabis to allow the sale of these medicinal drugs with the support of a medical specialist. It announced that they are working on the wording of the new decree.
Drug Policy Debate Radar of 10 October 2015

USA: Law on new regulations on medicinal cannabis in California has been signed by the Governor.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law with clear regulations on handling of production and distribution of medical cannabis as described in the last IACM-Bulletin.
Reuters of 10 October 2015

Uruguay: Cannabis will be available in pharmacies
The government of Uruguay announced that it had granted licenses to two companies to grow cannabis for commercial distribution, adding that it should go on sale in pharmacies next year.
Reuters of 2 October 2015

Science/Animal: The CB1 receptor is involved in changes following water deprivation
In rats, which did not received water for 24 hours the number of CB1 receptors increased in a certain brain region (hypothalamus). Researcher found that cannabinoid type 1 receptors “participate in the homeostatic responses regulating fluid balance and energy homeostasis” during water deprivation.
School of Medicine of Ribeirao Preto, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Ruginsk SG, et al. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2015 Oct 14 [in press]

Science/Animal: Cannabinoids may help to prevent relapse in cocaine dependency
In research with rats scientists demonstrated “that CB1R [cannabinoid receptor type 1] is a potential therapeutic target for relapse prevention, particularly in individuals whose cocaine use is stress-related.”
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Marquette University, Milwaukee, USA.
McReynolds JR, et al. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2015 Oct 12 [in press]

Science/Human: THC metabolites in hair do not prove THC consumption
THC and its metabolite THC-COOH “can be present in hair of non-consuming individuals because of transfer through cannabis consumers, via their hands, their sebum/sweat, or cannabis smoke” according to new research.
Institute of Forensic Medicine, Forensic Toxicology, Medical Center - University of Freiburg, Germany.
Moosmann B, et al. Sci Rep. 2015;5:14906

Science/Human: Cannabis and other drugs may worsen the course of posttraumatic stress disorder
In a study with 22,948 soldiers with posttraumatic stress disorder use of any investigated drug (alcohol, opiates, sedatives, cocaine, and cannabis) prior to start of treatment among patients had no relevant effect on treatment outcomes. However, abstinence at 4 months after treatment, irrespective of the substances, was strongly associated with improvement” in symptoms.
VA New England Mental Illness Research and Education Center, West Haven, USA.
Manhapra A, et al. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Sep 25. [in press]

Science/Human: Cannabis and alcohol use were associated with different styles of music
Listening to energetic music (rap or hip-hop and soul or funk genres) was associated with higher cannabis use, while country music was associated with higher alcohol use.
Department of Psychology, Texas State University, San Marcos, USA.
Oberle CD, et al. J Drug Educ. 2015;45(2):113-25.

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