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IACM-Bulletin of 20 March 2016

Germany: Two patients with an approval to buy cannabis flowers from the pharmacy, who grew their own cannabis, acquitted

On 9 March the district court of Duisburg acquitted Lars S., who is suffering from Tourette’s syndrome, from the accusation of illegal cultivation of cannabis. He has got an exemption from the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, a body of the Federal Health Ministry, several years ago to use cannabis flowers from a pharmacy, because other medicinal drugs are not effective enough. The court stated that the defendant was not able to buy cannabis flowers, which cost 15 to 20 EURos per gram (about 17 to 23 US dollars) in the pharmacy, in the necessary amount and therefore had no alternative to growing the drug himself. During a raid about 440 grams of cannabis were confiscated. In another court case before the district court of Karlsruhe against Matthias S., who is suffering from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) about 900 grams had been confiscated. In this case the court also ruled that the defendant acted in a state of emergency. In both cases the prosecutors agreed to the ruling.

The Federal Government plans a change of the narcotics law this year, according to which health insurances are obligated to pay for a treatment with cannabis flowers, Sativex, dronabinol or nabilone, if therapeutic alternatives are not effective enough or associated with severe side effects. Thereby, it wants to ensure that self-cultivation of cannabis by patients is not necessary.

Science/Human: CBD extract effective in treating children with Dravet syndrome in controlled clinical trial

A cannabis-based drug has successfully treated children with a rare form of severe epilepsy in a clinical trial. The study of Epidiolex in Dravet syndrome is the first of four final-stage Phase III epilepsy trials, with results expected this year, that the pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals hopes will confirm the therapeutic benefits of cannabidiol, the major cannabinoid of Epidiolex.

GW said on 14 March the 120-patient trial showed patients taking Epidiolex achieved a median reduction in monthly convulsive seizures of 39% compared with a reduction on placebo of 13 %. The difference was highly statistically significant and optimism about the drug's future sales increased share prices of GW by 125%. There are currently no approved therapies for Dravet syndrome. Epidiolex, which is given as a child-friendly syrup, is also being tested in Phase III trials for another rare type of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, with results due this year.

Press release by GW Pharmaceuticals of 14 March 2016

Reuters of 14 March 2016

News in brief

USA: Virginia allows cannabis oil for the treatment of children with epilepsy
Virginia lawmakers passed a bill allowing the production and use of cannabis oils for patients with epilepsy. The bill passed both houses unanimously. Cannabis use is still otherwise illegal.
UPI of 10 March 2016

Czech Republic: Conference on Cannabis and Science
On 18 April 2016 there is a conference on Cannabis and Science at Mendel University in Brno. Among the speakers are Lumir Hanuš, Alexandra Sulcova, Oliver Kayser and Mikael Kowal. For more information and registration please write to konopiaveda@mendelu.cz

Switzerland: Conference on Cannabis as Medicine
The SACM (Swiss Association for Cannabinoids in Medicine) is organizing its next conference on 12 November 2016 in Bern. Among the speakers are Ethan Russo, Arno Hazekamp, Stephen Wright, Joachim Nadstawek, Guillermo Velasco, Eva Milz, Markus Leweke, Ilya Reznik und Rudolf Brenneisen. More information

USA: Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics
Patients Out of Time celebrates its 21st Anniversary and will host The Tenth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics on April 14-16 in Baltimore. The theme for the conference is Cannabis: A Botanical Medicine. More information about agenda, faculty, exhibits and registration.

UNO: Canadian official gets standing ovations at UN narcotics conference after his speech
The new Liberal government used its first foray into the global anti-narcotics arena this week to signal a clear shift away from the war-on-drugs philosophy, promoting “harm reduction” and touting its plan to legalize cannabis. After the speech of Hilary Geller of the Health Ministry at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs conference in Vienna the audience of government and non-governmental organization officials from around the world gave a prolonged ovation.
National Post of 16 March 2016

Science/Human: Review shows low to moderate effect of cannabis on motor vehicle accidents
A review of studies, which investigated the relationship between cannabis use and traffic accidents published between 1982 and 2010, showed that acute cannabis intoxication is associated with a statistically significant increase in motor vehicle crash risk. Depending on mathematical model there was an increase by 36% or 22%. Authors wrote that this “increase is of low to medium magnitude.”
Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research, Oslo, Norway.
Rogeberg O, et al. Addiction. 2016 Feb 16. [in press]

Science/Animal: Uptake of glucose into brain cells increased by CB2 receptors
In cells and slices of mice brain stimulation of the CB2 receptor increased the uptake of glucose into astrocytes and nerve cells. Authors wrote that their research raises “therapeutic interest” in cannabinoids, which activate the CB2 receptor as agents against medical conditions with decline of brain performance, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology of Coimbra, University of Coimbra, Portugal.
Köfalvi A, et al. Neuropharmacology. 2016 Mar 11. [in press]

Science/Human: Regular cannabis use nearly halves metabolic syndrome in patients with psychosis
In a study based on 1813 adults with psychotic illness frequent use of cannabis was associated with a reduction of 44% in metabolic syndrome (OR = 0.56). Metabolic syndrome consists of at least three of five of the following medical conditions: abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting blood glucose, high blood triglycerides, and low HDL levels.
School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia.
Waterreus A, et al. Psychol Med. 2016 Mar 11:1-12. [in press]

Science/Animal: A spider toxin analogue exerts its pain-reducing effects by activating opioid and cannabinoid receptors
The synthetic peptide PnPP-19, which resembles the spider toxin PnTx2-6, reduced pain in rats and this effect was mediated by the CB1 and opioid receptors.
Departamento de Bioquímica e Imunologia, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Freitas AC, et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2016 Mar 7. [in press]

Science/Animal: Curcumin protects against liver fibrosis by influencing cannabinoid receptor density
C66, stable derivative of curcumin, protected against liver fibrosis, which was induced by chemical (CC14, carbon tetrachloride), by reducing the number of CB1 receptors and increasing the number of CB2 receptors.
First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, China.
Huang SS, et al. EUR J Pharmacol. 2016 Mar 2. [in press]

Science/Animal: Cannabinoids reduce an overactive bladder
In female rats with overactive bladder a synthetic cannabinoid (CP55,940), which acts similar to THC improved bladder function mediated by both CB1 and CB2 receptors. Authors wrote that this cannabinoid “could be an effective treatment for patients with lower urinary tract symptoms.”
Leicester Royal Infirmary, University of Leicester, UK.
Bakali E, et al. Int Urogynecol J. 2016 Mar 4. [in press]

Science/Animal: THC may be beneficial in HIV infection by modulating the immune system
In a HIV model of monkeys (macaques), which were infected with the SI virus, THC induced some beneficial effects on the disease. For example, it blocked CD8+ T-cell activation and proliferation. CD8+ T-cells are also called cytotoxic T-cells or killer T-cells. Authors wrote that their research suggests a “potential for targeted immune modulation in HIV infection.”
Tulane National Primate Research Center, Covington, USA.
Kumar V, et al. J Virol. 2016 Mar 2. [in press]

Science/Animal: THC can enhance the pain relieving effects of opioids without increasing dependence
In a study with four monkeys a combination of morphine and THC was more effective in reducing pain than morphine alone. Authors wrote that “THC can enhance some (antinociception, tolerance) but not all (dependence) effects of morphine.”
University of Texas Health Science Center, USA.
Gerak LR, et al. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2016 Mar 2. [in press]

Science/Animal: Cannabinoids, which activate the CB2 receptor, may reduce bone cancer pain
In female rats a synthetic cannabinoid (JWH-015), which only activates the CB2 receptor, reduced bone cancer pain.
Affiliated Drum-Tower Hospital of Medical College of Nanjing University, China.
Lu C, et al. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2016 Mar 2. [in press]

Science/Animal: Endocannabinoids possess anti-metastatic and anti-invasive effects in cancer
In mice blockade of the enzyme (FAAH) responsible for the degradation of several endocannabinoids reduced metastasis in lung cancer in a dose-dependent manner. In tissues of the animals these blockers (AA-5HT, URB597) also inhibited cancer invasion into neighbouring tissues.
Institute of Toxicology and Pharmacology, Rostock University Medical Center, Rostock, Germany.
Winkler K, et al. Oncotarget. 2016 Feb 22. [in press]

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