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IACM-Bulletin of December 25, 2016


Canada — The Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation presents its report

The Canadian government is giving itself until late 2018 or early 2019 to open up the market for recreational cannabis, based on a report, which was published on 13 December. The rules will allow everyone over 18 to purchase cannabis from a variety of producers and retailers or to grow their own. The chair of the task force is former Liberal minister Anne McLellan and the vice chair is Mark Ware, chairman of the IACM. The report provided 80 recommendations to end the prohibition on cannabis that dates back to 1923, using a model similar to the one in place for sales of tobacco and alcohol.

The report said Canadians should be able to buy or carry 30 grams of cannabis for personal use, while those who want to grow their own could have four plants at home. The system would feature storefront sales and mail-order distribution, and allow a wide diversity of producers to operate legally, including the current producers of medical cannabis. A federal official said the report has been well received inside the government and will have a large influence on the upcoming legislation to legalize cannabis, which will be tabled in Parliament in the spring of 2017.

Globe and Mail of 13 December 2016

A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada

Science/Human — Legalization of cannabis for medical use is associated with reduced fatalities due to traffic accidents in the USA

The implementation of medical cannabis laws in many states of the USA resulted in an immediate reduction in traffic fatalities in young and middle-aged drivers. This is the result of an analysis using data from the 1985-2014 US Fatality Analysis Reporting System by researchers of the University of Columbia in New York, the University of California at Davis, and the Boston University School of Public Health, USA.

On average, states with medical cannabis laws had 26% lower traffic fatality rates than states without such laws. Medical cannabis laws were associated with immediate reductions in traffic fatalities in those aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 44 years, and with additional yearly gradual reductions in those aged 25 to 44 years. However, state-specific results showed that only 7 states experienced reductions after implementation of these laws. Dispensaries for cannabis were also associated with traffic fatality reductions in those aged 25 to 44 years. Researchers concluded that both medical cannabis laws and dispensaries “were associated with reductions in traffic fatalities, especially among those aged 25 to 44 years. State-specific analysis showed heterogeneity of the [medical cannabis laws]-traffic fatalities association, suggesting moderation by other local factors. These findings could influence policy decisions on the enactment or repealing of [medical cannabis laws] and how they are implemented.”

Santaella-Tenorio J, Mauro CM, Wall MM, Kim JH, Cerdá M, Keyes KM, Hasin DS, Galea S, Martins SS. US Traffic Fatalities, 1985-2014, and Their Relationship to Medical Marijuana Laws. Am J Public Health. 2016 Dec 20:e1-e7. [in press]

News in brief

Mexico — The senate passes a bill on the legalization of cannabis for medical use

Mexico's Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill on 13 December that would allow for the use of medical cannabis. The bill, part of a proposal that President Enrique Pena Nieto submitted to Congress earlier this year, must also be passed by Mexico's lower house to become law.

Reuters of 13 December 2016

Science/Human — The activation of CB1 receptors in oesophagus cancer may promote cancer cell proliferation

In a study with patients suffering from oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma high presence of the CB1 receptor in the cancer cells was associated with an increased risk for metastasis and a worse disease outcome. Using these cancer cells researchers found that activation of the CB1 receptor “appeared to promote cell proliferation and invasion.”

Faculty of Medicine, Oita University, Japan.

Hijiya N, et al. Pathol Int. 2016 Dec 15. [in press]

Science/Human — The risk of schizophrenia for cannabis users is low

Researchers investigated, whether cannabis use causes schizophrenia or whether cannabis use and schizophrenia risk are based on genetic predisposition by using summary-level genome-wide data from the International Cannabis Consortium (ICC) and the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC2). There was some evidence consistent with a causal effect of cannabis use initiation on risk of schizophrenia. There was strong evidence consistent with a causal effect of schizophrenia risk on likelihood of cannabis use initiation. Authors wrote that there was “stronger evidence that schizophrenia risk predicts cannabis initiation.”

MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol, UK.

Gage SH, et al. Psychol Med. 2016 Dec 8:1-10. [in press]

Science/Human — In states of the USA, where cannabis has been legalized, the sale rates of beer have been reduced

Research firm Cowen & Company analysed the state of the beer industry in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, where cannabis is legal. Sale rates of beer dropped over the last two years, trailing behind beer sales around the country, industry website Brewbound reported.

Time of 6 December 2016

USA — Cannabis use among adolescents has declined again

The use of alcohol, cannabis, prescription medications and illicit substances declined again among U.S. teens again in 2016, continuing a long-term trend, according to a study released by the National Institutes of Health. The research also found that older students were still using cannabis at nearly the same levels as in 2015, with 22.5% saying that had smoked or ingested the drug at least once within the past month and 6% reporting daily use.

Reuters of 13 December 2016

Science/Human — More pregnant women use cannabis than in previous years

More women in the USA are using cannabis during pregnancy than in previous years to treat nausea and vomiting. Nearly 4% of pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 44 reported in 2014 they had used cannabis in the past month, compared with 2.4% in 2002.

Columbia University, New York, USA.

Brown QL, et al. JAMA. 2016 Dec 19. [in press]

Science/Human — Cannabis use disorders associated with reduced quality of life

In a review researchers found that cannabis use disorders were associated with reduced quality of life. It was not possible to answer the question, whether reduced quality of life for example by chronic illnesses caused initiation of cannabis use or whether cannabis use disorders caused reduced quality of life.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, USA.

Goldenberg M, et al. Am J Addict. 2016 Dec 21. [in press]

Science/Animal — Blockade of the CB1 receptor and activation of the CB2 receptor may reduce seeking for cocaine

In a study with rats an antagonist (rimonabant) at the CB1 receptor and an agonist (JWH-133) at the CB 2 receptor reduced cocaine seeking behaviour. Authors concluded that “cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors modulate cocaine-induced rewarding behavior and appear to have opposite roles in the regulation of cocaine's reinforcing and psychomotor effects.”

Faculty of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, University of Ioannina, Greece.

Delis F, et al. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2016 Dec 19. [in press]

Science/Animal — Inhibition of the CB2 receptor reduces airway inflammation in asthma

By comparing responses to allergens in mice without CB2 receptors and normal mice investigators found that the activation of the CB2 receptor is essential for the induction of inflammation in the airways. In mice without CB2 receptors there was an elevated number of natural killer cells in the lungs, which serve to limit allergic airway inflammation.

Center for Environmental Health Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, USA.

Ferrini ME, et al. Allergy. 2016 Dec 19. [in press]

Science/Cells — Cells, which are important for the formation of teeth, contain CB1 receptors

Odontoblasts, which are part of the outer surface of the teeth’s pulp and responsible for the formation of dentin, a constituent of teeth, may contain CB1 receptors. Authors wrote that they “may play an important role in mediating the physiological function in tooth pulp.”

College of Stomatology, Tianjin Medical University, China.

Que K, et al. J Endod. 2016 Dec 15. [in press]

Science/Human — The endocannabinoid PEA in blood may be a marker for dysfunction of the arteries of the heart

In the blood of humans, who underwent examinations of the function of coronary arteries, those with reduced function of these blood vessels had increased blood levels of the endocannabinoid PEA (palmitoylethanolamide). Authors wrote that larger trails are needed “to confirm PEA as a potential circulating biomarker of coronary dysfunction.”

"SS. Antonio e Biagio e Cesare Arrigo" Hospital, Alessandria, Italy.

Quercioli A, et al. Int J Cardiol. 2016 Dec 13. [in press]

Science/Animal — Activation of the CB2 receptor may be beneficial in type 2 diabetes

In a study with diabetic mice activation of the CB2 receptor by the selective CB2 receptor agonist SER601 improved insulin sensitivity. Authors wrote that “the CB2 receptor may be considered a promising target for therapeutic development against insulin resistance and obesity-related diabetes.”

Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Chinese Academy of Medical Science, Tianjin, China.

Zhang X, et al. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2016;40(5):1175-1185.

Science/Animal — Activation of the CB2 receptor may reduce inflammatory pain

In rats with chronic inflammatory pain both the CB1 and the CB2 receptor were present in a certain brain region (rostral ventromedial medulla), which plays a role in pain modulation. Researchers demonstrated that blockade of the CB2 receptor increased and activation reduced pain providing “additional rationale for the development of CB2 receptor-selective agonists as useful therapeutics for chronic inflammatory pain.”

Department of Neurological Surgery, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, USA.

Li MH, et al. J Neurosci. 2016 Dec 9. [in press]

Science — Isomers of tamoxifen activate cannabinoid receptors

Tamoxifen is an oestrogen receptor modulator used in the treatment of breast cancer. New research shows that some isomers and metabolites of tamoxifen bind to the CB1 and/or the CB2 receptor.

College of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, USA.

Ford BM, et al. PLoS One. 2016;11(12):e0167240.