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IACM-Bulletin of August 5, 2018


IACM — The journal “Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research” will be transitioning to a hybrid publication

The IACM partner journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research will be transitioning to a hybrid publication model in January 2019. “This move will open the door for increased levels of high-quality scholarship dedicated to the scientific, medical, and psychosocial exploration of clinical cannabis, cannabinoids, and endocannabinoids, while giving authors more options during the publication process,” Dr Daniele Piomelli, the editor of the journal, wrote in his announcement.

The passage to this hybrid model implies that quarterly issues of the journal will be printed and distributed to libraries worldwide. At the same time, accepted articles will be given the option of immediate online publication.

Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research

UK — Government wants to allow limited access to the medical use of cannabis

Britain is to allow doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis, following a relaxation of the law governing drugs derived from the banned plant. Interior minister Sajid Javid said on 26 July, that specialist physicians would be able to prescribe cannabis-derived medicinal products from the autumn. Recreational use will remain prohibited.

“Recent cases involving sick children made it clear to me that our position on cannabis-related medicinal products was not satisfactory,” Javid said. “Following advice from two sets of independent advisers, I have taken the decision to reschedule cannabis-derived medicinal products – meaning they will be available on prescription.”

Reuters of 26 July 2018

Science/Human — Nabilone improves agitation and other behavioural symptoms in patients with Alzheimer’s disease

Results of a double-blind clinical trial presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) 2018 in Chicago suggest that nabilone may be effective in treating agitation in people with Alzheimer's disease. Nabilone is a synthetic THC derivative. The study with adults with moderate to severe Alzheimer's dementia was led by Dr Krista L. Lanctôt, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology/Toxicology at the University of Toronto, Canada.

Over the 14-week trial duration, 39 participants (77 percent male, average age 87) received nabilone in capsule form (mean dose: 1.6 mg) for six weeks, followed by six weeks of placebo, with one week between each treatment period. In addition to measuring agitation, the researchers assessed overall behavioural symptoms, memory and physical changes. They found that agitation and overall behaviour improved significantly. The researchers also observed small benefits in cognition and nutrition during the study.

Science Daily of 24 July 2018

Georgia — The Constitutional Court rules that people can no longer be punished for using cannabis

The Constitutional Court of Georgia ruled on the 30th of July that people can no longer face punishments, such as fines, for consuming cannabis. The decision, which is effective immediately, comes eight months after the court abolished criminal sanctions for cannabis use.

The ruling concerns only the consumption of cannabis, while cultivation and selling remain a crime. The verdict, delivered by the four senior judges on the court, said that punishing someone for consuming cannabis would comply with the constitution only if consumption put a third person at risk, such as consuming the drug in an educational facility, certain public spaces like in public transport, or in the presence of children.

Constitutional court outlaws all punishment for cannabis consumption in Georgia

News in brief

UK — Majority supports the legalization of cannabis

British public backs legalisation of cannabis so it can be sold like cigarettes and alcohol. In a poll by The Independent with more than 1,500 participants, people were asked if they supported or opposed the proposal that “cannabis be legalised, so that it is sold legally within a government regulated market in the same way that alcohol and tobacco is”. Overall, 22 per cent strongly backed the move, while 29 per cent somewhat supported it, bringing total support to 51 per cent.

The Independent of 14 July 2018

Italy — Health minister wants to expand access to cannabis for medicinal purposes

In a statement, health minister Giulia Grillo said that she wants to have medical cannabis in all pharmacies. “I favour a partnership between the public and the private sector to increase production,” she added.

Huffington Post of 31 July 2018

Science/Human — Cannabis improves quality of life in patients with head and neck cancer

In a study 74 patients with newly diagnosed head and neck cancer who were cannabis users appeared to have better quality of life compared with 74 who did not use cannabis, including decreased anxiety, pain, and depression and increased appetite and generalized well-being.

Division of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.

Zhang H, et al. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2018 Aug 2 [in press]

Science/Animal — A synthetic CBD derivative effective in skin fibrosis

In an animal model of systemic sclerosis (bleomycin-induced fibrosis) VCE-004.3, a synthetic derivative of CBD, prevented skin fibrosis, activation of macrophages and infiltration by T lymphocytes. External application of VCE-004.3 also alleviated skin fibrosis.

Maimonides Biomedical Research Institute of Córdoba, Spain.

Del Rio C, et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2018 Jul 22. [in press]

Science/Cells — THC inhibits T cell stimulation by interferon-alpha and interleukin 7

THC mediates suppression of T cell stimulation by IFN-alpha (interferon-alpha) and IL-7 (interleukin-7). This effect was lower in cells of HIV positives. Authors concluded that “these results further support THC as immune suppressive while identifying putatively beneficial aspects of cannabinoid-based therapies in HIV+ patients.”

Institute for Integrative Toxicology, Michigan State University, USA.

Henriquez JE, et al. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2018 Jul 19. [in press]

Science/Human — THC and CBD content in products used for self-treatment of Australian children with epilepsy varies considerably

In an Australian survey with 41 families treating their children with cannabis there was high variability in the cannabinoid content and profile of cannabis extracts rated as "effective", with no clear differences between extracts perceived as "effective" and "ineffective". Contrary to family's expectations, most samples contained low concentrations of CBD, while THC was present in nearly every sample.

The Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, The University of Sydney, Australia.

Suraev A, et al. Sci Rep. 2018;8(1):10154.

Science/Animal — Activation of the CB2 receptor reduces the liking of alcohol

Treatment of mice with a synthetic cannabinoid (JWH133), which selectively activates the CB2 receptor reduces the animals’ attempts to get access to ethanol, while blockade of the CB2 receptor reinforced these activities. Authors suggested cannabinoids “as a means to manage alcohol use disorder.”

Instituto de Neurociencias, Universidad Miguel Hernández-CSIC, Alicante, Spain.

Navarrete F, et al. Biochem Pharmacol. 2018 Jul 28. [in press]

Science/Animal — CBD increased the anti-cancer effects of gemcitabine against pancreatic cancer

In a study with mice with pancreatic cancer, a combination of CBD and gemcitabine increased survival nearly three-fold compared to gemcitabine alone. Antagonism or blockade of the GPR55 receptor played a major role in this effect. CBD is known to be a GPR55 receptor antagonist. Authors suggest clinical trials with CBD and gemcitabine “as a novel promising treatment to improve PDAC [pancreatic cancer] patients' outcome.”

Queen Mary University of London, UK.

Ferro R, et al. Oncogene. 2018 Jul 30. [in press]

Science/Human — A case report suggests that CBD may be beneficial in Tourette syndrome

A female patient with Tourette syndrome, who did not respond well to standard medication and THC, presented with marked improvement after the administration of a daily dose of 10mg THC in combination with 20mg CBD.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Brugg, Switzerland.

Pichler EM, et al. Int J Psychiatry Med. 2018 Jul 30:91217418791455.

Science/Animal — The endocannabinoid PEA improved outcomes following insufficient blood supply during birth

Administration of PEA (palmitoylethanolamide) after their birth reduced health consequences of insufficient blood and oxygen supply during birth in mice. PEA treatment was able to prevent inflammation of nerve cells and preserve cognitive functions.

Hospital Regional Universitario de Málaga, Spain.

Holubiec MI, et al. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2018 Jul 29. [in press]

Science/Animal — The endocannabinoid PEA improves liver fibrosis

In a rat model of liver fibrosis PEA (palmitoylethanolamide) produced significant improvement. This effect may be mediated by the inhibition of the activity of hepatic stellate cells and Kupffer cells.

Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine, Sapporo, Japan.

Ohara M, et al. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:709.

Science/Animal — Cannabidivarin may be helpful in Rett syndrome

In a mouse model of Rett syndrome, treatment with CBDV (cannabidivarin) for 14 days inhibited behavioural and brain alterations. Rett syndrome is a rare, genetically determined neurodevelopmental disorder.

Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.

Vigli D, et al. Neuropharmacology. 2018 Jul 26. [in press]

Science/Human — Heavy cannabis use has no relevant influence on liver function

In a study with 42 patients with cannabis dependence liver function was not influenced by blood levels of THC and its metabolite THC-COOH.

Evangelisches Krankenhaus Castrop-Rauxel, Germany.

Bonnet U, et al. J Psychoactive Drugs. 2018 Jul 27:1-6.[in press]

Science/Human — Nabilone is well tolerated in children undergoing chemotherapy

In a retrospective review of 110 children, who received nabilone for the prevention of acute nausea and vomiting due to cancer chemotherapy, this synthetic THC derivative was well tolerated. Most common adverse events were sedation (20 percent) and dizziness (10 percent) and they were usually of minor clinical significance. However, the efficacy of nabilone was poor.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, Canada.

Polito S, et al. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2018:e27374.