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IACM-Bulletin of August 20, 2006


Belgium/Spain — Cannabis clubs in Spain legal, first formation of a club in Belgium

Recently several charitable cannabis clubs were founded in Spain, whose lawfulness was now confirmed by courts in Catalonia and the Basque region. People join to grow cannabis together and distribute it to members of the club at cost price. Only members have access to the growing rooms and the cannabis. In Spain trade with cannabis is prohibited, but possession for personal use is legal. A court in Bilbao, the biggest city of the Basque region, cleared four defendants of a cannabis club with 66 members from the prosecution of illegal cultivation of 150 kg of cannabis (fresh whole plants that resulted in 17.4 kg dried cannabis). 39 members use cannabis for medical purposes.

ENCOD (European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies), a European organisation for the change of the drug laws regards the Spanish cannabis clubs as a model for other countries. Recently the first association of cannabis growers was created in Belgium. As in Spain the possession of cannabis for personal use is legal.

(Source: El of 7 August 2006,

Science — Cannabis use not associated with risk factors for diseases of heart and circulation

According to research published in the American Journal of Cardiology the use of cannabis is not associated with development of risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke. While acute cannabis use is associated with increased appetite and changes in blood pressure, a long-term study (the CARDIA study) with 3,617 participants from the United States found no effect of regular cannabis use on blood pressure and blood lipids.

Participants who had used cannabis on more than 1,800 days had a higher daily caloric intake, a higher alcohol intake and slightly higher blood pressure and somewhat higher triglycerid levels in blood, but no higher weight and no higher overall lipid and glucose levels than the average of the other participants. Closer analysis revealed that alcohol was responsible for the somewhat higher blood pressure and triglycerid levels. Researchers concluded that cannabis use "was not independently associated with cardiovascular risk factors, [but] it was associated with other unhealthy behaviours, such as high caloric diet, tobacco smoking, and other illicit drug use."

The CARDIA study is examining how heart disease develops in adults. It began in 1986 with a group of 5115 black and white men and women aged 18-30 years. The participants were selected so that there would be approximately the same number of people in subgroups of race, gender and education from four cities in the United States. These same participants were asked to participate in follow-up examinations during 1987-1988 (Year 2), 1990-1991 (Year 5), 1992-1993 (Year 7), 1995-1996 (Year 10), and 2000-2001 (Year 15).

(Source: Rodondi N, Pletcher MJ, Liu K, Hulley SB, Sidney S. Marijuana Use, Diet, Body Mass Index, and Cardiovascular Risk Factors (from the CARDIA Study). Am J Cardiol 2006;98(4):478-484.)

Science — THC inhibits primary marker of Alzheimer's disease

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, have found that THC inhibits the formation of amyloid plaque, the primary pathological marker for Alzheimer's disease. The study to be published in Molecular Pharmaceutics says, THC is "a considerably superior inhibitor of [amyloid plaque] aggregation" to several currently approved drugs for treating the disease.

According to the new experimental study THC inhibits a protein, which acts as a accelerator of the formation of amyloid plaque in the brains of Alzheimer victims. Although experts disagree on whether the presence of beta-amyloid plaques in those areas critical to memory and cognition is a symptom or cause, it remains a significant hallmark of the disease. With its strong inhibitory abilities, the study said, THC "may provide an improved therapeutic for Alzheimer's disease" that would treat "both the symptoms and progression" of the disease.

(Source: Press release by the Scripps Research Institute of 9 August 2006,

News in brief

Canada — AIDS Conference

For the first time an exhibit on the medical use of cannabis is present at an international AIDS conference. The display at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto is sponsored by the Medical Marijuana Information Resource Centre (MMIRC) and the Canadian AIDS Society. "It's possible that it may be the only time, until we see a global shift around the policies governing this plant," says Hilary Black, spokeswoman for the MMIRC. Exhibitors profit from the Canadian medical cannabis program to present samples of dried cannabis. (Source: Reuters of 14 August 2006)

USA — Support for medical cannabis

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the largest public service workers' union of the United States, passed a resolution endorsing medical cannabis at its national convention in Chicago on 8 August. This union thus becomes the latest major civic organization to advocate for access to therapeutic cannabis. (Source: Drug War Chronicle of 11 August 2006)

Argentina — Medical use

Three members of the Lower House of the Parlament brought in a measure that would legalize the medical use of THC. The measure says that "it should be considered, to allow the use of the chemical compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), either of natural or synthetical origin for therapeutic purposes or for research." Health minister Dr. Ginés González García expressed his support. (Source: El Civismo of 19 August 2006,

Science — Epilepsy

According to animal research endocannabinoids directly influence certain nerve cells in the so-called hippocampus to protect against epileptic seizures. Researchers concluded that this observation "may constitute a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of disorders associated with excessive excitatory neuronal activity." (Source: Monory K, et al. Neuron 2006;51(4):455-66.)

Science — Pregnancy

According to an article to be published in the journal Addiction cannabis use during pregnancy increased the risk for the child to use cannabis at age 14. (Source: Day NL, et al. Addiction 2006;101(9):1313-22.)