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IACM-Bulletin of April 14, 2002


🏷️ Science β€” Cannabis extract effective in multiple sclerosis

In a study at the Clinic Montana (Switzerland) under the guidance of Dr. Claude Vaney the effects of capsulated cannabis extract in 57 patients with multiple sclerosis were investigated.

In a crossover design one half of the patients received a placebo first and then the extract, while the other half received cannabis first. The dose was adjusted according to individual tolerance. The maximal daily doses ranged from 7.5 to 30 mg THC.

Muscle tone assessed with the Ashworth Scale was not significantly influenced by cannabis compared to placebo. However, subjectively the number of muscle spasms and the intensity of spasticity were reduced. Mobility as measured with the Rivermead-Mobility-Index (RMI) was improved with cannabis. Sleep was not significantly influenced. In general, the medication was tolerated well. Cognitive and motor performance were not significantly influenced by the cannabis medication.

A detailed publication is under preparation.

(Source: Fortissimo 1, March 2002, Journal of the Swiss Multiple Sclerosis Society)

🏷️ Science β€” Heavy cannabis use without long-term effect on global intelligence

Canadian researcher compared the intelligence quotient (IQ) of 15 current heavy users of cannabis, 9 current light users, 9 former regular users and 37 non-users in a group of 70 young people. Participants had been followed since birth and now were 17-20 years old.

Current marijuana use was significantly correlated in a dose-related fashion with a decline in IQ when compared to the IQ measured at age 9-12. In current heavy users the IQ showed a decrease of 4.1 points, compared to gains in IQ points for light current users (5.8), former users (3.5) and non-users (2.6).

The authors concluded that current cannabis use "had a negative effect on global IQ score only in subjects who smoked 5 or more joints per week" and that "marijuana does not have a long-term negative impact on global intelligence."

Former users had smoked marijuana regularly in the past but not for at least 3 months. Current heavy use was defined as smoking at least 5 joints per week. Light users smoked less than 5 joints per week.

(Source: Fried P, et al. Current and former marijuana use: preliminary findings of a longitudinal study of effects on IQ in young adults. CMAJ 2002;166(7):887-91)

🌐 Holland β€” Cannabis on prescription within one year

A large majority of legislators in the parliament's lower chamber said on 8 April that they will support a government-backed bill to let doctors prescribe cannabis.

The bill also needs approval by the Senate, expected later this year. If it is passed, two growers selected and controlled by the government will produce the cannabis. Members of parliament from the three government coalition partners and the two largest opposition parties said that they would approve the bill.

Health Ministry spokesman Bas Kuik said cannabis for medicinal purposes will probably be available in drugstores within a year or so.

(Source: Associated Press of 8 April 2002)

News in brief

🌐 USA β€” Clinical conference on cannabis

The Second National Clinical Conference on Cannabis will be held in Portland, Oregon on 3 & 4 May 2002. Detailed information, conference agenda and conference brochure are available at the home page of Patients Out of Time:

🌐 UK β€” GW Pharmaceuticals

GW Pharmaceuticals doubled the number of its clinical trials to investigate the medical benefits of cannabis. Four new trials will be carried out on patients with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis and nerve damage, bringing the number of patients involved in seven GW clinical trials to about 600. (Source: The Guardian of 12 April 2002)

🌐 Canada/USA β€” Census of medical cannabis groups

California NORML is compiling a census of patients' groups which use cannabis medicinally, their approximate membership of users, physicians, and caregivers in the USA and Canada. For more information visit: (Source: Dale Gieringer, personal communication)

🌐 USA β€” Ad with New York mayor

New York's mayor Michael Bloomberg found himself on an advertisement of marijuana activists in the New York Times of 9 April. The advertisement is part of a campaign of NORML for the decriminalization of marijuana. Bloomberg was quoted in a 2001 magazine article as saying he had smoked marijuana and liked it. (Source: Reuters of 9 April 2002)

🌐 USA β€” Maryland

A bill that would have clearly reduced penalties for patients who use cannabis medicinally ($100 fine, instead of a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail) was defeated by one vote on 6 April in a Senate Committee. The bill had passed the House of Representatives on 24 March. (Source: Carroll County Times of 6 April)

🏷️ Science β€” Obesity

The CB1 receptor antagonist SR141716 of the French firm Sanofi-Synthelabo is in final phase III studies for the use in obesity. It has shown significant weight reduction in early studies. SR141716 blocks the effects of endocannabinoids at the cannabinoid-1 receptor. (Source: Reuters of 10 April 2002)

🏷️ Science β€” Gastric secretion

Cannabinoids (WIN 55,212-2, HU-210) decreased the acid secretion induced by pentagastrin. This effect was blocked by a CB1 receptor antagonist but not by a CB2 receptor antagonist. Thus, the inhibition of acid secretion of the stomach by cannabinoids is mediated by CB1 receptors. (Source: Adami M, et al. Br J Pharmacol 2002 Apr 7;135(7):1598-1606)