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IACM-Bulletin of December 11, 2016


Science/Human — Cannabis use in cancer patients halved their risk to die in hospital

Cannabis use was associated with a 59% reduced risk to die in hospital. For cancer patients, the risk to die in a hospital was reduced by 56% among cannabis users compared with non-users. This is the result of an analysis of hospital patients in the US Nationwide Inpatient Sample database between 2007 and 2011, which covers about 1,000 hospitals , by researchers from the University of Northern Colorado, Colorado State University, and the University of Alabama, USA. The database included about 3.9 million hospital patients, of whom 387,608 had a diagnosis of cannabis dependence or cannabis abuse.

In detail, among hospitalized patients, cannabis use was associated with a 60% increased odds of stroke (OR: 1.60, 95% CI: 1.44-1.77) compared with non-users, but a 22% reduced odds of heart failure (OR: 0.78, 95% CI: 0.75-0.82) and 14% reduced odds for cardiac disease (OR: 0.86, 95% CI: 0.82-0.91). The risk for in-hospital mortality was reduced by 59% (OR: 0.41, 95% CI: 0.38-0.44). Among cancer patients, odds of in-hospital mortality was significantly reduced by 56% among cannabis users compared with non-users (OR: 0.44, 95% CI: 0.35-0.55). Authors wrote that “prospective studies will be needed to better characterize the health effects of marijuana use, especially among older, sicker, and/or hospitalized patients.” Thus, there is the possibility that cannabis users more often do not die in hospitals, but at home.

Vin-Raviv N, Akinyemiju T, Meng Q, Sakhuja S, Hayward R. Marijuana use and inpatient outcomes among hospitalized patients: analysis of the nationwide inpatient sample database. Cancer Med. 2016 Nov 28. [in press]

News in brief

Ireland — The government is open for legalizing the medical use of cannabis

Ireland moved closer to legalizing cannabis for medicinal use when the minority government said on 1 December it would not block the first reading of a bill that is backed by all other parties. Health Minister Simon Harris, whose government is not large enough to block legislation, said he would seek some amendments at a later stage based on scientific data.

Reuters of 1 December 2016

South Africa — Plans for controlled cultivation and supply of cannabis for medical use

The Medicines Control Council told the health committee of parliament it has made progress in its investigation into the medicinal use of cannabis. A speaker said that by February the regulatory body could start the regulation process by issuing permits to allow the controlled cultivation and supply of standardised high quality medicinal cannabis products.

IOL of 29 November 2016

Europe — Conference on cannabis as medicine in the European Parliament

The left parties in the European Parliament organized a small congress on cannabis as medicine. Among the participants were Carola Perez and Manuel Guzman from Spain, Franjo Grotenhermen from Germany, Bertrand Rambaud from France, and Pavel Kubu from the Czech Republic. The talks were translated simultaneously into eight languages and are available online.

Science/Animal — CBD counteracted the development of experimental MS

The PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway is an intracellular signalling pathway important in regulating the cell cycle. In a mouse model of multiple sclerosis, which results in a decrease of activity of this pathway, treatment with CBD (cannabidiol) was able to restore this activity. Authors wrote that this “could be a new potential therapeutic target for MS management.”

IRCCS Centro Neurolesi "Bonino-Pulejo", Messina, Italy.

Giacoppo S, et al. Fitoterapia. 2016;116:77-84.

Science/Animal — CBD protects the brain from negative consequences of reduced blood supply

In a study with mice, whose blood supply was reduced by occlusion of arteries, short-term treatment with CBD prevented cognitive and emotional impairments, attenuated nerve cell loss in a certain brain region (hippocampus) and white matter injury.

Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, State University of Maringá, Brazil.

Mori MA, et al. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2016 Nov 23. [in press]

Science/Human — In infants born after less than 35 weeks of pregnancy cannabis use of the mother was not associated with adverse outcomes

In a study with 1,867 new-borns born after less than 35 weeks of pregnancy, of whom 135 were exposed to cannabis during pregnancy, there were no differences in outcomes between exposed and non-exposed infants.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, USA.

Dotters-Katz SK, et al. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2016 Dec 6. [in press]

Science/Animal — The activation of the CB2 receptor may be beneficial after stroke

Stroke was induced in mice. A blocker (antagonist) of the cannabinoid receptor type 2 worsened the outcome with reduced new nerve cells and reduced motor performance. Activation of the CB2 receptor had no effect on motor performance but increased the migration of precursors of nerve cells in cell studies.

Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain.

Bravo-Ferrer I, et al. Stroke. 2016 Nov 29. [in press]

Science/Human — Cannabis use may be associated with a small impairment of vision

In a study with 52 healthy men and women, of whom 28 were regular cannabis users, there was a small delay in transmission of action potentials by the ganglion cells of the retina in regular cannabis users, which may cause alterations in vision.

Pôle Hospitalo-Universitaire de Psychiatrie du Grand Nancy, Laxou, France.

Schwitzer T, et al. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016 Dec 8. [in press]