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IACM-Bulletin of August 21, 2016


Canada — The government allows patients to grow their own cannabis

Medical cannabis patients will be allowed to grow a limited amount of cannabis for their own use or designate someone to grow it for them, the Canadian government said on 11 August. The government had been given six months to comply with a federal court ruling that struck down the previous ban on self-cultivation of cannabis by patients.

Health Canada said medical cannabis patients would also continue to have the option of buying cannabis from one of 34 producers licensed by the federal government. But it reiterated that storefronts selling cannabis, commonly known as dispensaries or compassion clubs, are not authorized to sell cannabis for medical or any other purposes. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government would introduce legislation for recreational use by the spring of 2017, as promised.

Reuters of 11 August 2016

Science/Human — THC may be useful in the treatment of children with spasticity

In the majority of severely ill children the treatment with THC showed promising effects in treatment resistant spasticity. This is the result of observations by scientists of the University of Dusseldorf, Germany, published in the European Journal of Paediatric Neurology. Sixteen children, adolescents and young adults having complex neurological conditions with spasticity (aged 1.3-26.6 years) were treated with THC by a specialized pediatric palliative care team between 2010 and 2015 in a home-care setting.

Drops of an oily THC solution (dronabinol) were administered. A promising therapeutic effect was seen, mostly due to abolishment or marked improvement of severe, treatment resistant spasticity (n = 12). In two cases the effect could not be determined, two patients did not benefit. The median duration of treatment was 181 days (range 23-1429 days). Dosages to obtain a therapeutic effect varied from 0.08 to 1.0 mg THC per kg body weight with a median of 0.33 mg per kg daily in patients with a documented therapeutic effect. When administered as an escalating dosage scheme, side effects were rare and only consisted in vomiting and restlessness (one patient each). Authors concluded that “in the majority of pediatric palliative patients the treatment with dronabinol showed promising effects in treatment resistant spasticity.”

Kuhlen M, Hoell JI, Gagnon G, Balzer S, Oommen PT, Borkhardt A, Janßen G. Effective treatment of spasticity using dronabinol in pediatric palliative care. Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2016 Jul 30. [in press]

Spain — First meeting of the Spanish observatory for medicinal cannabis

On 20 September 2016 the Spanish Observatory for Medicinal Cannabis (Observatorio Español de Cannabis Medicinal, OECM) will be officially presented in an event that will bring together leading national and international experts in the investigation of the therapeutic properties of the cannabis plant. The conference will take place in the Auditorium of the CaixaForum Madrid.

The OECM was founded in October 2015 with the aim to promote, coordinate and implement activities and projects aimed at increasing the knowledge of the properties and medicinal uses of cannabis and its compounds. Members of the OECM are researchers, physicians and patient associations. The board members are Carola Pérez, Javier Pedraza Valiente, Cristina Sánchez, Guillermo Velasco, Manuel Guzmán, José Martínez Orgado, Ekaitz Agirregoitia Marcos, José Carlos Bouso, and Joan Parés Grahit.

Observatorio Español de Cannabis Medicinal

News in brief

USA — Voters in five states will decide on medical cannabis laws in November

Voters in Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Montana and North Dakota are expected to decide on medical cannabis use measures in November. Voters in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will decide on recreational use measures.

2016 cannabis-related ballot proposals

USA — Government ends its monopoly on cannabis growing for medical research

The federal government is ending its decades-old monopoly on cannabis production for medical research as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced on 11 August that it was bowing to changing times. The agency said it would begin allowing researchers and drug companies to use cannabis grown in places other than its well-secured facility at the University of Mississippi.

Los Angeles Times of 11 August 2016

Science/Animal — Cannabinoids reduce nerve cell loss after epileptic seizures

In studies with rats, in which a status epilepticus was induced, the synthetic cannabinoid WIN55,212-2, which has similar effects as THC increased survival of animals and reduced cell loss in a certain brain region (hippocampus). The cannabinoid also reduced the number of seizures.

Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia.

Suleymanova EM, et al. Neuroscience. 2016 Aug 9. [in press]

USA — The federal government cannot spend money to prosecute patients if the defendants comply with state guidelines

The Federal Department of Justice cannot spend money to prosecute federal cannabis cases if the defendants comply with state guidelines that permit the drug's sale for medical purposes, a federal appeals court ruled on 16 August.

Reuters of 17 August 2016

Science/Human — The pain-reducing effects of THC may be stronger in men than in women

In a study with 21 healthy men and 21 women, who underwent a test of acute pain (by putting their hands into cold water), cannabis significantly reduce pain sensitivity in the male participants but not in women. In both groups cannabis caused increased psychological effects.

New York State Psychiatric Institute and Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, USA.

Cooper ZD, et al. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2016 Aug 5. [in press]

Science/Animal — Cannabigerol may stimulate appetite

In rats the administration of the plant cannabinoid CBG (cannabigerol) resulted in increased appetite without any side effects.

School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading, UK.

Brierley DI, et al. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2016 Aug 9. [in press]

Science/Cells — CBDA may reduce the aggressiveness of breast cancer

Scientists investigated the mechanisms, by which cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) may reduce the expression of COX-2 (cyclooxygenase-2) in a certain human breast cancer cell line. They previously had shown that CBDA inhibits migration and thereby metastasis of these cancer cells.

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Hiroshima International University, Japan.

Takeda S, et al. J Nat Med. 2016 Aug 16. [in press]

Science/Animal — Beta-caryophyllene excerts neuroprotective effects in an animal model of Parkinson’s disease

In a rat model of Parkinson’s disease beta-caryophyllene attenuated induction of proinflammatory cytokines and inflammatory mediators. From their studies scientists concluded that this terpene, which is present in cannabis, pepper and other plants, “has the potential therapeutic efficacy to elicit significant neuroprotection by its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities mediated by activation of the CB2 receptors.”

College of Medicine and Health Sciences, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.

Javed H, et al. Front Neurosci 2016;10:321.

Science/Animal — The endocannabinoid system is involved in the regulation of blood pressure

Resarch suggests a cross talk between components of the renin angiotensin system, which plays a major role in the regulation of blood pressure and the endocannabinoid system in astrocytes of Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. Scientists noted that “the consequence of such a crosstalk could be a potential reduced endocannabinoid tone in brainstem in states of hypertension.”

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, USA.

Haspula D, et al. J Neurochem. 2016 Aug 16. [in press]

Science/Cells — The effect of Cannabinoid Receptor Interacting Protein1a on CB1 receptors

The Cannabinoid Receptor Interacting Protein1a (CRIP1a) binds to the CB1 receptor and alters its neuronal function. A new study shows that a high concentration of CRIP1a is able to attenuate the reduction of CB1 receptors on the cell surface caused by CB1 receptor agonists.

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Winston-Salem, USA.

Blume LC, et al. J Neurochem. 2016 Aug 11. [in press]

Science/Cells — THCV may reduce inflammation

The plant cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) inhibits nitrite production in macrophages, a certain form of immune cells. This effect may reduce inflammation and was mediated by the activation of the CB2 receptor.

Department of Pharmacy, University of Naples Federico II, Italy.

Romano B, et al. Pharmacol Res. 2016 Aug 3. [in press]

Science/Animal — Agonists of the CB1 receptor, which do not penetrate into the brain, may reduce neuropathic pain

In a rat model of neuropathic pain molecules, which bind to the CB1 receptor but do not cross the blood-brain barrier and thus do not cause psychological side effects, alleviated pain. Authors wrote that “this class of CB1R agonists holds promise as a viable treatment for neuropathic pain.“

Center for Drug Discovery, Research Triangle Institute , Research Triangle Park, USA.

Seltzman HH, et al. J Med Chem. 2016 Aug 10. [in press]