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IACM-Bulletin of December 10, 2006


Science — Moderate cannabis use has a positive effect on treatment for cocaine dependence in patients with comorbid ADHD and cocaine dependence

According to a study of the New York State Psychiatric Institute moderate/intermittent cannabis users were more successful than other patients in abstaining from cocaine use in a sample of 92 cocaine dependend patients diagnosed with current ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) aged 25 to 51. They participated in a clinical trial of methylphenidate for treatment of ADHD and cocaine dependence in an outpatient setting. The study investigated the effects of cannabis use on treatment retention and abstinence from cocaine.

At week 14, retention rates were 24 percent among abstainers, 57 percent among intermittent/moderate users, and 39 percent among heavy/regular users. Cannabis use also was associated with higher rates of abstinence from cocaine. Among those subjects in the study who reported using cannabis intermittently, 39 percent achieved two or more weeks of abstinence from cocaine, compared to only 26 percent of subjects who reported not using cannabis during treatment. The study was the first to assess the use of cannabis on treatment outcomes in patients diagnosed with cocaine dependence.

(Source: Aharonovich E, Garawi F, Bisaga A, Brooks D, Raby WN, Rubin E, Nunes EV, Levin FR. Concurrent cannabis use during treatment for comorbid ADHD and cocaine dependence: effects on outcome. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2006;32(4):629-35.)

News in brief

Holland — Cannabis pharmacy

The pharmacy Hanzeplein in Groningen is the first Dutch cannabis pharmacy. It sells medical cannabis grown by the company Bedrocan at 6 Euros per gramme. Thus, the price is similar to that in coffee-shops and cheaper than usually in pharmacies. This is a pilot project in cooperation with the Stichting Medicinale Cannabis and the Office for Medicinal Cannabis of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports. Patients need a prescription from their doctor. Website of the pharmacy: (Source: Dagblad van het Noorden of 7 November 2006)

USA — California

A state judge on 6 December upheld California's law permitting the use of cannabis for medical purposes, rejecting a lawsuit by three counties challenging the ten years old law. The counties, led by San Diego, argued that local governments of the counties shouldn't be bound to uphold state laws that are weaker than the federal prohibition of cannabis. State attorneys responded that California was entitled to pass its own laws suspending state prosecution for medical cannabis use. (Source: Associated Press of 6 December 2006)

Canada — Poll on medical use

In a nationwide survey, an 93 per cent of Canadians indicated they accept the idea of people legally smoking cannabis for health reasons. Nearly three in four (70 per cent) not only accept the practice but also personally approve of the behaviour. (Source: Vancouver Sun of 2 November 2006)

Science — Gateway theory

Researchers of the University of Pittsburgh found that nearly a quarter of the young men in their study used cannabis before they began drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. It's the reverse of what's known as the "gateway hypothesis," in which drug use is thought to progress from alcohol and tobacco to cannabis to hard drugs. The researchers determined also that the likelihood of developing a substance abuse problem was similar in youngsters who followed the traditional gateway drug use pattern and those who followed the reverse pattern. More at: (Source: Tarter RE, et al. Am J Psychiatry 2006;163(12):2134-2140.)