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IACM-Bulletin of 02 February 2020

Science/Animal: Cannabigerol effective against infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Cannabigerol (CBG), a cannabinoid of the cannabis plant has been found to destroy drug-resistant bacteria, raising hopes of a new weapon in the fight against superbugs. Scientists screened five cannabinoids for their antibiotic properties and found that one, cannabigerol (CBG), was particularly potent at killing methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), one of the most common hospital superbugs.

Having seen how effective the substance was against bacteria in the lab, the researchers decided to test CBG’s ability to treat infections in animals. In a study that has not yet been published, they found that CBG cured mice of MRSA infections as effectively as vancomycin, a drug widely considered to be the last line of defence against drug-resistant microbes. The study is under review at the ACS Infectious Diseases journal.

The Guardian of 19 January 2020

Economy/Ecology: Data on how much electricity the cannabis industry consumes

The cannabis plant is a rather unimposing, forest green weed that blends well with nature. “The dirty truth, however, is that the business of growing cannabis is anything but green. In fact, the growing of cannabis is so power-intensive that its ecological footprint is quickly becoming an environmental nightmare,” says an article analysing some data from the US.

The cannabis industry is one of the country’s most energy-intensive in the world, frequently demanding an array of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, fans and 24-hour indoor lighting rigs at multiple growing sites. Evan Mills, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, says that production of legal cannabis in the US consumes 1% of total electricity, or 41.71 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, at a cost of $6 billion per year. That’s enough energy to power 3.8 million homes or the entire State of Georgia. Generating that much electricity spews out 15m tons of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2), or about what three million average cars would produce in a year.

OilPrice.com of 14 January 2020

Science/Human: About half of patients with low back pain were able to stop all opioid use after imitating cannabis use

In a long-term study with 61 patients with low back pain, who used opioids, about half of them were able to stop all opioid usage after initiating cannabis use, which took several years. This observational study was conducted at a single site, the medical practice of Jeffrey Y. Hergenrather. Cannabis recommendations were provided to patients as a way to mitigate their low back pain.

Authors found that 50.8% were able to stop all opioid usage, which took a median of 6.4 years after excluding two patients. For those 29 patients (47.5%) who did not stop opioids, 9 (31%) were able to reduce opioid use, 3 (10%) held the same baseline, and 17 (59%) increased their usage. Authors concluded that in “this long-term observational study, cannabis use worked as an alternative to prescription opioids in just over half of patients with low back pain and as an adjunct to diminish use in some chronic opioid users.”

Takakuwa KM, Hergenrather JY, Shofer FS, Schears RM. The Impact of Medical Cannabis on Intermittent and Chronic Opioid Users with Back Pain: How Cannabis Diminished Prescription Opioid Usage. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2020 Jan 9. [in press]

Europe/UNO: EURopean Commission proposes unified EU vote on WHO cannabis scheduling

In advance of the March session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the EURopean Union’s executive branch has proposed that EU member nations vote in favour of three of the six World Health Organization (WHO) cannabis scheduling recommendations.

One of these supported changes would be positive for the global cannabis industry: removing cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961). However, the Commission is proposing to postpone decisions on two other proposals and reject a third. Notably, the Commission asked for a “further assessment” on the proposed clarification that CBD preparations with no more than 0.2% THC not be subject to international control.

Marijuana Business Daily 15 January 2020

Science/Human: Many patients with arthritis use cannabis

Researchers from CreakyJoints, an advocacy and research organization, surveyed 1,059 adults with physician-diagnosed rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. Participants were drawn from the ArthritisPower research registry. Results were published as a meeting abstract by the American College of Rheumatology.

The researchers found that 37% of the cohort (n=387) reported medical cannabis use, either currently or in the past, and almost all participants (93%) used it to manage a specific condition (51% for rheumatoid arthritis, 46% for osteoarthritis and 35% for fibromyalgia), with almost 62% of current users engaging in use at least once daily.

Pain Medicine News of 14 January 2020

Science/Human: Cannabis may be helpful in insomnia in older adults with chronic pain, but tolerance may develop

In a study with 128 patients with chronic pain over the age of 50 years, who were recruited from the Rambam Institute for Pain Medicine in Haifa, Israel, cannabis use was associated with fewer problems with waking up at night. The study compared 66 patients with cannabis use and 62 non-users.

Cannabis use was associated with fewer problems with waking up at night compared with non-cannabis use. No group differences were found for problems with falling asleep or waking up early without managing to fall back asleep. Frequent cannabis use was associated with more problems waking up at night and falling asleep. Authors concluded, that medical cannabis use “may have an overall positive effect on maintaining sleep throughout the night in chronic pain patients. At the same time, tolerance towards potential sleep-inducing properties of MC may occur with frequent use.”

Sznitman SR, Vulfsons S, Meiri D, Weinstein G. Medical cannabis and insomnia in older adults with chronic pain: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2020 Jan 20. [in press]

News in brief

ICRS: The 30th Annual Meeting of the International Cannabinoids Research Society
The 30th meeting of the ICRS will be held at the National University of Galway from 4- 9 July 2020.
Information and registration

Science/Human: The anti-psychotic effect of CBD may be due to normalisation of activity in certain brain regions
In a study with 15 psychosis patients and 19 healthy controls, whose brains were investigated during memory tasks CBD attenuated dysfunction in certain brain regions (mediotemporal, prefrontal and striatal regions). Authors wrote that this “suggests that normalization of mediotemporal and prefrontal dysfunction and mediotemporal-striatal functional connectivity may underlie the antipsychotic effects of CBD."
Department of Psychosis Studies, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London, UK.
O'Neill A. Psychol Med. 2020 Jan 29:1-11.

France: The medical cannabis pilot program is planned to start in autumn 2020
In 2019, France announced plans to commence a medicinal cannabis pilot, which is now due to start in September 2020. The pilot will run for two years with the initial six months will serve to identify the 3000 patients who will most benefit from the programme. The first prescriptions for medicinal cannabis are expected to start in January 2021.
Benzinga of 21 January 2020

Italy: Medical cannabis is now free of charge in Sicily for certain medical conditions
Medical cannabis will now be available free of charge in the Sicily region, according to a decree signed by Sicilian health chief Ruggero Razza. The cost of prescriptions, available to patients suffering from chronic pain, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis, will be covered by the Sicilian regional government according to reports in Italian media.
The Local of 21 January 2020

Science/Human: Cannabis use was not associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease in young adults
In a study with 1420 patients with chest pain between 18 and 50 years of age 146 were identified as cannabis users. They had no previous history of cardiac disease. Authors found that “among younger patients being evaluated for chest pain, self-reported cannabis use conferred no additional risk of coronary artery disease as detected on coronary CT angiography.”
Department of Radiology & Radiological Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, USA.
Burt JR, et al. PLoS One. 2020;15(1):e0228326

Science/Human: A quarter of patients of a palliative clinic used THC and CBD
According to a survey of 58 patients, presented to an academic palliative medicine clinic over a three-month period about a quarter of respondents reported the use of THC and CBD. In all, 24% of respondents reported THC use. Patients reported improvements in pain, appetite, and nausea. In all, 24% of patients reported CBD use. Patients reported improvements in pain.
Halifax Health Hospice, Port Orange, USA.
Highet BH, et al. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2020 Jan 27:1049909119900378.

Science/Human: THC improves optic nerve head blood flow, which may be beneficial in glaucoma
In a placebo-controlled study with 24 healthy subjects administration of oral THC (5 mg of dronabinol in capsules or placebo) significantly increased blood flow in the optic nerve head by a mean of 9.5%, while the placebo did not show a change. Authors wrote that “further studies are needed to investigate whether this effect can also be observed in glaucoma patients.”
Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Medical University of Vienna, Austria.
Hommer N, et al. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2020 Jan 24. [in press]

Science/Animal: Beta-caryophyllene and arginine may be helpful in treating diabetes
According to a study with diabetic rats a combination with beta-caryophyllene, which binds to the CB2 receptor, and arginine reduced glucose and lipid levels. Authors wrote that the study “indicates a therapeutic approach to treat T2DM by BCP and LA combination as food and dietary supplement.”
Department of Pharmacology, Shobhaben Pratapbhai Patel School of Pharmacy & Technology Management, Mumbai, India.
Kumawat VS. J Food Biochem. 2020 Jan 29:e13156.

Science/Cells: Activation of the CB2 receptor may be helpful in prostate cancer
Researchers showed that the treatment with a cannabinoid by activation of the CB2 receptor impact fibroblast activation and the progression of prostate cancer. They wrote that “overall, our data strongly support the use of cannabinoids as anti-tumor agents in prostate cancer, since they are able to simultaneously strike both cancer and stromal cells.”
Department of Experimental and Clinical Biomedical Sciences, University of Florence, Italy.
Pietrovito L. Int J Mol Sci. 2020;21(3).

Science/Animal: Activation of the CB1 receptor at the allosteric site reduces ocular pain and inflammation
In a study with mice new synthetic cannabinoids (GAT228 and GAT229), which bind to the allosteric site of the CB1 receptor reduce pain of the eyes. A combination of these cannabinoids with delta-8-THC also reduced inflammation of the cornea.
Department of Pharmacology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.
Thapa D. Molecules. 2020;25(2).

Science/Human: No difference of outcome after subarachnoid haemorrhage between cannabis users and non-users
In a nationwide Canadian study with 42 394 patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage there were similar outcomes for cannabis users compared to nonusers.
Department of Neurosurgery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Dandurand C. J Clin Neurosci. 2020 Jan 21. [in press]

Science: CBD may raise tacrolimus levels in patients with kidney disease
In a review on cannabinoids in patients with kidney disease they also noted that CBD may raise the levels of tacrolimus, an immunosuppressive agent used after organ transplant to reduce the risk of organ rejection.
Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA.
Rein JL. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2020;29(2):248-257

Science: The online information on cannabinoids in paediatric cancer was considered “satisfactory”
Researchers investigated the quality of online information on cannabinoids in cancer. They wrote that healthcare providers “should be aware that the overall quality of information found online is considered "satisfactory." The majority of articles present a pro-cannabis opinion.
University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Yeung M. Support Care Cancer. 2020 Jan 20. [in press]

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