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IACM-Bulletin of August 7, 2016


Australia — Medicinal cannabis now legally available in New South Wales

New South Wales doctors can legally prescribe medicinal cannabis for their patients now. Under the amendments to the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods regulations, cannabis-based medications will be available to a range of people for whom more mainstream treatments are not effective.

The law change will allow doctors to apply to the NSW Health Board to prescribe cannabis-based products that are not currently on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

Among the potential uses for medical cannabis is the treatment of arthritis, HIV/AIDS, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, anxiety and depression. “This change increases the options available for doctors as it means a broader range of cannabis-based medicines can be prescribed – while we continue our evidence-based research looking further into the role medicinal cannabis can play,” NSW Premier Mike Baird said.

The Newdaily of 31 July 2016

Science/Human — Cannabis use had no negative effects on the outcome of kidney transplantations

Recreational use of cannabis had no negative effects on the health of kidney recipients in a study with 1225 patients. Results were published by scientists at the Department of Surgery of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, USA, in the journal Clinical Transplantation. They retrospectively reviewed data of kidney recipients from 2008-2013. Cannabis use was defined by positive urine toxicology screen and/or self-reported recent use.

Cannabis use was not associated with worse outcomes. Ninety-two percent of grafts functioned at one year. Among these, measures of kidney function were similar between cannabis users and non-users. Researchers concluded that “isolated recreational marijuana use is not associated with poorer patient or kidney allograft outcomes at one year.”

Greenan G, Ahmad SB, Anders MG, Leeser A, Bromberg JS, Niederhaus SV. Recreational Marijuana Use is Not Associated with Worse Outcomes After Renal Transplantation. Clin Transplant. 2016 Aug 4. [in press]

News in brief

Italy — Parliament begins debate on legalizing cannabis

A new bill, which is backed primarily by deputies from Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's Democratic Party (PD) and the 5-Star Movement, would allow people to carry five grammes on their person or keep 15 grammes at home. A person growing cannabis would no longer risk imprisonment but be able to cultivate up to five plants. Supporters argue that the law would take profits from the mafia.

Reuters of 25 July 2016

Science/Human — There is no association between the availability of medical cannabis dispensaries and cannabis use by adolescents

In a study with 14,953 adolescents from 141 schools there was no association between the availability of medical cannabis dispensaries and cannabis use.

Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California, San Diego, USA.

Shi Y. Prev Med 2016;91:1-7.

Science/Animal — CB1 receptors of the mitochondria involved in nerve cell protection after traumatic brain injury

In studies with mice researchers demonstrated that the number of CB1 receptors on the mitochondria, the “power plants” of the cells, quickly increases after traumatic brain injury. This contributes to the mitigation of health consequences, including programmed cell death of nerve cells.

First affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang Chinese Medicine University, Hangzhou, China.

Xu Z, et al. Mol Brain 2016;9(1):75.

Science/Animal — Second-hand smoke of cannabis may impair function of the arteries

One minute of exposure to cannabis second-hand smoke substantially impaired endothelial function of arteries in a study with rats for at least 90 minutes, considerably longer than impairment by tobacco second-hand smoke.

Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, USA.

Wang X, et al. J Am Heart Assoc 2016;5(8).

Science/Cells — The activation of CB2 receptors improves efferocytosis and stability of atherosclerotic plaques

In a study with a certain form of white blood cells (macrophages) the activation of CB2 receptors improved efferocytosis by macrophages and authors concluded that this “might provide a novel mechanism on how CB2 activation reduces vulnerability and promotes stability of atherosclerotic plaques.” Efferocytosis is the process by which dying/dead cells are removed by cells such as macrophages.

Renji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiaotong University, China.

Jiang L, et al. Life Sci. 2016 Jul 26. [in press]

Science/Animal — Activation of peripheral CB1 receptors reduces neuropathic pain

In study with rats several chemical compounds of the indene group, certain polycyclic hydrocarbon, activated the CB1 receptor but did not penetrate into the brain. They were shown to exert analgesic effects against neuropathic pain.

University of California, Los Angeles, USA.

Seltzman HH, et al. J Med Chem. 2016 Aug 2. [in press]

Science/Human — No association between THC blood concentration and impairment of drivers

In a study with nearly 5000 drivers suspected of driving under the influence of drugs there was no correlation of tests on psychomotor performance and THC blood concentrations.

The Orange County Crime Lab, Santa Ana, USA.

Declues K, et al. J Forensic Sci. 2016 Aug 1. [in press]

Science/Human — War veterans use cannabis to treat severe pain or posttraumatic stress disorder

In a study with 841 war veterans 8% reported that they had a current medical cannabis card. Most of these participants (78%) reported using cannabis to treat severe/chronic pain. Further reasons for cannabis use were posttraumatic stress disorder and sleep disturbance.

Department of Psychology, Bowling Green State University, USA

Davis AK, et al. Addict Behav 2016;63:132-136

Science/Animal — Hypothermia and CBD act synergistically to prevent brain damage during birth

In a study with piglets the combined protective effect of hypothermia (reduced body temperature) and cannabidiol (CBD) on damage to brain cells caused by reduced oxygen supply during birth was greater than either hypothermia or CBD alone.

Biocruces Health Research Institute Bizkaia, Spain.

Lafuente H, et al. Front Neurosci 2016;10:323.

Science/Human — Legalization of cannabis in Colorado resulted in an increased number of children with unintentional cannabis intake

After legalization of cannabis for recreational use in Colorado, USA, there was a significant increase in numbers of admissions of children to the Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora due to unintentional intake of cannabis products. The mean age of the children was 2.4 years. The numbers increased from 1.2 per 100 000 population 2 years prior to legalization to 2.3 per 100 000 population 2 years after legalization.

Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Denver, USA.

Wang GS, et al. JAMA Pediatr. 2016 Jul 25. [in press]

Science/Animal — Activation of the endocannabinoid system may be beneficial in autism

In a study with rats scientists demonstrated that alterations in endocannabinoid signalling following inflammation after birth contribute to impairments in social behaviour during adolescence and that increasing endocannbinoid levels “could be a novel target for disorders involving social deficits such as social anxiety disorders or autism.”

Mathison Center for Mental Health, University of Calgary, Canada.

Doenni VM, et al. Brain Behav Immun. 2016 Jul 21. [in press]

Science/Animal — No neuroprotective effects of CBD after reduced oxygen supply

Following a study with 55 new-born piglets, which were deprived oxygen, researchers wrote that “in contrast to previous studies, we do not find significant protective effects of CBD after HI [reduced oxygen supply] in piglets.” They noted that perhaps the CBD dose might have been too low in their study.

Women and Children's Division and Institute for Surgical Research, Oslo University Hospital, Rikshospitalet, Norway.

Garberg HT, et al. Pediatr Res. 2016 Jul 21. [in press]

Science/Human — Cannabis use may cause psychotic-like experiences

In a study with 2793 young adult twins the relationship between cannabis use and psychotic-like experiences was investigated. Researcher concluded from their investigation that “the association between symptoms of CUD [cannabis use disorders] and PLEs [psychotic-like experiences] is explained by shared genetic and environmental factors and direct effects from CUD to risk for PLEs.”

Department of Mental Disorders, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway.

Nesvåg R, et al. Schizophr Bull. 2016 Jul 18. [in press]