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IACM-Bulletin of 02 April 2017

Argentina: Parliament approves cannabis for medicinal use

On 29 March the Argentina Senate approved a bill, which allows the medical use of cannabis oil for certain diseases. The House of Representatives already approved it in November 2016. The law allows importation of cannabis products until the country is able to produce it itself. It was approved unanimously. The initiative authorizes the conduction of research by several scientific institutions.

"We now have a legal framework for research, treatment and production, while there was nothing in Argentina before," Ana María García, president of Cannabis Medicinal Argentina (Cameda) told reporters. With this approval, Argentina joins other Latin American countries like Colombia, Uruguay and Chile, which already have measures that regulate the therapeutic use of cannabis. "We are very happy. We must continue to increase knowledge on the medical use of cannabis,"added Garcia, a physician and mother of a 24-year-old girl with refractory epilepsy.

El Mundo of 30 March 2017

Science/Human: Medical cannabis patients rate cannabis as very effective

Patients, who use cannabis for medical purposes, rate cannabis as highly effective in relieving different symptoms according to research by scientists of the Universities of Arizona and Maine. The goal of this report was to provide an in-depth qualitative exploration of patient perspectives on the strengths and limitations of medical cannabis. Members of dispensaries (n = 984) including two-thirds with chronic pain completed an online survey.

In response to "How effective is medical cannabis in treating your symptoms or conditions?", with options of 0% (no relief) to 100% (complete relief), the average was 74.6%. The average amount spent on cannabis each year was 3,060 US Dollars (about 2870 EURos). Responses to "What is it that you like least about MC?" identified twelve themes including money (28.4%, e.g. "The cost is expensive for someone on a fixed income").

Piper BJ, Beals ML, Abess AT, Nichols SD, Martin M, Cobb CM, DeKeuster RM. Chronic Pain Patients' Perspectives of Medical Cannabis. Pain. 2017 Mar 21. [in press]

Science/Human: Low age associated with higher problematic cannabis use among medical cannabis users

In a study with 217 medical cannabis patients lower age was associated with a higher risk of problematic cannabis use. This is the result of a study by scientists from Palo Alto University, Stanford University and other scientific institutions across the USA. Data were collected at a medical cannabis dispensary in San Francisco and patients were grouped into age-defined cohorts (younger: 18-30, middle-aged: 31-50, and older: 51-72).

All three age groups had similar frequency of cannabis use over the past month. However, the quantity of cannabis used and rates of problematic cannabis use were higher among younger users relative to middle-aged and older adults. Authors concluded that “findings suggest that there is an age-related risk for problematic cannabis use among medical cannabis users, such that younger users should be monitored for cannabis use patterns that may lead to deleterious consequences.”

Haug NA, Padula CB, Sottile JE, Vandrey R, Heinz AJ, Bonn-Miller MO. Cannabis use patterns and motives: A comparison of younger, middle-aged, and older medical cannabis dispensary patients. Addict Behav. 2017;72:14-20.

News in brief

Canada: The government intends to legalize cannabis in July 2018
The Liberal government plans to announce legislation next month that will legalize recreational cannabis use by adults nationally by Canada Day 2018 (1 July 2018). According to a CBC report, the government will secure the country’s cannabis supply and license producers. Provinces will control price, along with how cannabis is bought and sold. Also, Canadians who wish to grow their own cannabis would be limited to four plants per household.
The Star of 26 March 2017

Science/Human: Epidiolex, a CBD extract, receives orphan drug designation in EURope
GW Pharmaceuticals announced that Epidiolex received orphan drug designation from the EURopean Medicines Agency for the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, which is associated with treatment resistant epilepsy. Epidiolex contains CBD as major cannabinoid. The EMA orphan drug designation is a status assigned to a medicine intended for use against a rare condition and allows a pharmaceutical company to benefit from incentives offered by the EU to develop a medicine.
Press release by GW Pharmaceuticals of 29 March 2017

Science/Cells: Cannabigerol is counteracting oxidative stress, mediated by the CB2 receptor
Researchers investigated the potential of CBG (cannabigerol) to counteract oxidative stress in macrophages, certain blood cells. CBG exhibited a potent action in inhibiting oxidative stress, by down-regulation of the main oxidative markers and this effect was mediated by the activation of the cannabinoid-2 receptor.
IRCCS Centro Neurolesi "Bonino-Pulejo", Messina, Italy.
Giacoppo S, et al. EUR J Histochem. 2017;61(1):2749.

Science/Human: Very low doses of CBD were not effective in Crohn’s disease
In a study with 20 patients with Crohn’s disease 20mg of CBD a day were not superior to placebo in influencing disease activity. Authors conceded that this result may be due to the small dose of CBD and suggest further investigations.
Department of Gastroenterology, Meir Medical Center, Kfar Saba, Israel.
Naftali T, et al. Dig Dis Sci. 2017 Mar 27. [in press]

Science/Cells: Palmitoylethanolamide may be useful against inflammation of the brain
In a study, rat microglia and human macrophages were investigated to evaluate whether the endocannabinoid PEA (palmitoylethanolamide) affects inflammation. Findings suggest indirect regulation of the CB2 receptor in microglia of the brain. Authors wrote that “PEA can be explored as a useful tool for preventing/treating the symptoms associated with neuroinflammation in CNS disorders.”
Università degli Studi della Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", Naples, Italy.
Guida F, et al. Sci Rep. 2017;7(1):375.

Science/Animal: Palmitoylethanolamide reduced the consequences of traumatic brain injury in mice
In a study with mice, which underwent traumatic brain injury, PEA (palmitoylethanolamide) partially normalized the biochemical and functional changes occurring in the brain. Authors suggest that PEA may be “a pharmacological tool to ameliorate neurological dysfunction induced by the trauma.”
Università degli Studi della Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", Naples, Italy.
Guida F, et al. Front Pharmacol. 2017;8:95.

Science/Human: Very heavy cannabis use may have long-lasting effects on the brain
A study with 48 very heavy cannabis users (about 5g a day) found that 85.4% had worse outcomes in a test addressing visual-motor functioning and visual perception skills, and all users (100%) were found to have worse outcomes in a test of visual memory. Authors wrote that “the continuation of persistent symptoms 3 months after the discontinuation of cannabis abuse was a remarkable finding.”
University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece.
Nestoros JN, et al. Am J Addict. 2017 Mar 17. [in press]

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