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IACM-Bulletin of August 15, 2010


🌐 Germany/USA β€” Three quarters of citizens in the USA and Germany support the medical use of cannabis

According to a poll conducted by Emnid Institute there is a broad support in Germany when it comes to the medical use of cannabis. Of 1,001 interviewees asked by phone 76 per cent said that the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes should be allowed while only 18 per cent disagreed and 6 per cent had no opinion on this issue. The poll consisting of two questions was ordered by the German Association for Cannabis as Medicine (ACM). According to the answers to the second question 65 per cent of Germans think that a treatment with the cannabis compound dronabinol (THC) should be paid by the health insurances, which currently is usually not the case.

Support for the medical use of cannabis was highest among highly educated people, men, people between 50 and 60 years of age, and partisans of the small political parties, Greens (90 per cent), Liberals (85 per cent) and the Left (85 per cent). More than three quarters of the large parties Social Democrats (83 per cent) and Christian Democrats (77 per cent) also supported the medical use of cannabis. The lowest support was observed among non-voters (72 per cent). These results are in agreement with a recent Rasmussen poll in the USA showing that 75 per cent of Americans support the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes if prescribed by a physician.

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(Sources: Reuters of 5 August 2010, German Press Agency of 13 August 2010, Association for Cannabis as Medicine)

🌐 USA β€” Propositions on regulations for the medical use of cannabis in Washington D.C.

Stores that sell medical cannabis in Washington won't be allowed to advertise their wares with giant cannabis leaves, and the packages they dispense will have to display a warning on health risks. Those are just two of more than 300 proposed regulations published on 6 August to implement a new medical cannabis law in the city. The regulations, which range from how the drug may be grown to what dispensaries can look like, are the first step in setting out how Washington residents will be able to obtain cannabis for medical use.

The newly proposed regulations, written by the mayor's office, are now open for comment by the public. Patients are not expected to be able to buy cannabis in the city until 2011. Advocates for the medical use of cannabis are already questioning some of the regulations and asking why it would take so long for them to go into effect. For example, they take issue with regulations that put cannabis growers and sellers under the authority of the same city agency that handles liquor licenses. Critics say that medical cannabis should be regulated by the health department, which will also oversee patient registration.

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(Source: Associated Press of 6 August 2010)

News in brief

🌐 USA β€” Colorado

The state of Colorado made about 7 million dollars (about 5.5 million Euros) in fees from the more than 700 dispensary owners who applied for their state license. The state also received approximately 1,300 license applications for growing operations or related medical cannabis businesses. Under a new bill of June 2010 businesses working in the field of medical cannabis have to apply for a state license. (Source: Denver Daily News of 4 August 2010)

🏷️ Science β€” Pain

According to a study by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca a peripherally restricted cannabinoid receptor agonist (AZ11713908) produced robust pain reducing effects in mouse models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain. There were no effects on the central nervous system. (Source: Yu XH, et al. Pain. 2010 Aug 7. [in press])

🏷️ Science β€” Obsessive-compulsive disorder

According to a study at the University of SΓ£o Paulo, Brazil, the natural cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) is effective in a mouse model of obsessive-compulsive disorder, a test where the animals bury marbles. CBD (15, 30 and 60 mg/kg body weight) induced a significant decrease in the number of buried marbles compared with controls (34, 41 and 48 per cent, respectively). This effect was blocked by a CB1 receptor antagonist. (Source: Casarotto PC, et al. Behav Pharmacol 2010;21(4):353-8.)

🏷️ Science β€” Sleep

At the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, USA, the effects of cessation of cannabis use on sleep where investigated in 18 heavy users until day 13 of abstinence. During the whole period total sleep time, sleep efficiency, and amount of so-called REM sleep declined, while wake after sleep onset and periodic limb movements during sleep increased. (Source: Bolla KI, et al. Sleep Med. 2010 Aug 2. [in press])

🏷️ Science β€” Cancer

According to a study at the Italian Institute for Digestive Diseases in Bari, Italy, the endocannabinoid anandamide reduced the level of so-called polyamines (putrescine, spermidine und spermine) in human colon cancer cells and inhibited cancer cell proliferation. These effects were mediated by the CB1 receptor. Polyamines are compounds that play an important role in cell proliferation. (Source: Linsalata M, et al. Anticancer Res 2010;30(7):2583-9.)

🏷️ Science β€” Irritable bowel syndrome

According to an animal study at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, chronic mild stress causes hypersensitivity in the bowel. This hypersensitivity was reduced in the study by a cannabinoid (ACEA) and this effect was mediated by the CB1 receptor. Irritable bowel syndrome is associated with hypersensitivity of the bowel. Researchers concluded that "there is a key contribution of peripheral CB1 receptors involved in the maintenance of visceral hyperalgesia." (Source: Shen L, et al. J Neurogastroenterol Motil 2010;16(3):281-90.)

🏷️ Science β€” Cancer

Researchers at the University of Rostock, Germany, investigated the mechanisms of the anti-cancer effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in lung cancer cells. They noted a significant decrease of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1. They concluded that their "data provide evidence for a hitherto unknown mechanism underlying the anti-invasive action of cannabidiol on human lung cancer cells." (Source: Ramer R, et al. Pharm Res. 2010 Jul 29. [in press])

🏷️ Science β€” Time

Researchers at Yale University in New Haven, USA, investigated the effects of cannabinoids on the circadian clock of the brain. Cannabinoids did not alter the endogenous free-running circadian rhythm in the mouse brain, but did attenuate the ability of the circadian clock to entrain to light zeitgebers. (Source: Acuna-Goycolea C, et al. J Neurosci 2010;30(30):10061-6.)

🏷️ Science β€” Neuroprotection

According to a Chinese group working with rats the neuroprotective effects of the synthetic cannabinoid WIN 55,212-2 against the negative consequences of transient ischaemia (reduced blood circulation) is through the activation of certain extra-cellular kinases. Pre-treatment with the cannabinoid protected the brain against transient ischaemia caused by occlusion of the middle cerebral artery and increased levels of these kinases (certain enzymes). (Source: Hu B, et al. Eur J Pharmacol. 2010 Jul 27. [in press])