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IACM-Bulletin of July 24, 2016


Science/Human — Mecical cannabis laws in the USA are asscociated with a decline of absence from work due to sickness

Utilizing the Current Population Survey, a study identified that absences from work due to sickness declined following the legalization of medical cannabis in the 24 states with medical cannabis laws analysed. The effect was stronger for full-time workers, and for middle-aged males, which is the group most likely to hold medical cannabis cards.

Those full-time employees between the ages of 50 and 59 were 13 percent less likely to report absences due to illness following medical cannabis legalization. Those ages 40 to 49 were 11 percent less likely to do so, and those ages 30 to 39 were 16 percent less likely to report a medical-related absence. "The results of this paper therefore suggest that medical marijuana legalization would decrease costs for employers as it has reduced self-reported absence from work due to illness/medical issues,” Dr. Darin F. Ullman, a professor in the Economics department of the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, USA, wrote.

Ullman DF. The Effect of Medical Marijuana on Sickness Absence. Health Economics. 2016 Jul 15. [in press]

Science/Human — Aggression decreases after cannabis use according to clinical study

Using a validated behavioral measure of aggression in response to provocation, subjective aggression significantly increased after alcohol use and decreased after cannabis use. The study at the University of Maastricht, The Netherlands, included heavy alcohol (n = 20) and regular cannabis users (n = 21), and controls (n = 20). Alcohol and cannabis users received single doses of alcohol and placebo or cannabis and placebo, respectively. They were subjected to certain tests, which allow measuring of aggression.

Subjective aggression significantly increased following aggression exposure in all groups while being sober. Alcohol use increased subjective aggression whereas cannabis decreased the subjective aggression following aggression exposure. Aggressive responses during the PSAP (point-subtraction aggression paradigm) increased following alcohol and decreased following cannabis relative to placebo. Authors concluded ”that alcohol facilitates feelings of aggression whereas cannabis diminishes aggressive feelings in heavy alcohol and regular cannabis users, respectively.”

De Sousa Fernandes Perna EB, Theunissen EL, Kuypers KP, Toennes SW, Ramaekers JG. Subjective aggression during alcohol and cannabis intoxication before and after aggression exposure. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2016 Jul 15. [in press]

News in brief

Science/Human — Medical cannabis laws in the USA are associated with increased perceived harmfulness of cannabis

In a study with 1,134,734 adolescents the passage of medical cannabis laws is associated with increases in perceived harmfulness.

Columbia University, New York, USA.

Keyes KM, et al. Addiction. 2016 Jul 9. [in press]

Greece — Health Ministry wants to allow the medical use of cannabis

The Greek Health Ministry announced the formation of a working group consisting of academics, psychiatrists, and scientific and legal advisers of the prime minister, health ministry and the justice ministry and members of patient associations, to initiate a discussion on the medical use of the cannabis.

Greek Reporter of 21 July 2016

Canada/Germany — Cannabis flowers from Canada will be available in German pharmacies

According to press releases by Tweed, the largest producer of cannabis flowers in Canada, and the German company MedCann, which intends to supply German pharmacies with cannabis products, the first two varieties of the Canadian producer will be available in German pharmacies from August 2016 on.

Press release by Canopy Growth Corporation of 23 July 2016

USA — Liquid THC formulation Syndros gets approval by health authorites

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved Insys Therapeutics Inc’s oral solution, Syndros, which is a liquid formulation of THC. Syndros may be used in patients experiencing anorexia due to AIDS, as well as cancer patients experiencing nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, and have not responded adequately to traditional antiemetic treatments.

Pharmacy Times of 11 July 2016

UK — Most members of parliament support the medical use of cannabis

More than half of MPs want to see the legalisation of the medical use of cannabis, a survey conducted by Populus has found. The polling, which follows parliamentary debates on the issue, found that 58 per cent of MPs backed the use of cannabis for people battling health conditions. Just 27 per cent of MPs were opposed.

Daily Telegraph of 10 July 2016

Science/Human — How to prevent unblinding in clinical studies with cannabinoids

In placebo controlled double blind trials with THC and cannabis some patients may perceive the THC effect and thus unmask blinding. Blinding means that patients do not know, whether they get a placebo or the active drug (in this case cannabinoids). Authors give hints how to preserve blinding and the quality of the study.

Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, University of California, San Diego, USA.

Wilsey B, et al. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research 2016;1(1):139-148.

Science/Animal — Cannabinoids may be helpful in cognitive decline due to atherosclerosis of the brain

Chronic reduced supply of the brain with blood causes cognitive impairment in rats. The synthetic cannabinoid WIN55,212-2 and endocannbinoids improved cognition.

Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China.

Su SH, et al. Behav Brain Res. 2016 Jul 14. [in press]

Science/Animal — THC and CBDA act synergistically against nausea

In a rat model of nausea a combination of THC and CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) acted synergistically. Authors concluded from their investigations that “oral administration of subthreshold doses of THC and CBDA may be an effective new treatment for acute nausea and anticipatory nausea and appetite enhancement in chemotherapy patients.”

Department of Psychology and Collaborative Neuroscience Program, University of Guelph, Canada.

Rock EM, et al. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2016 Jul 20. [in press]

Science/Animal — A synthetic derivative of cannabigerol may be useful in brain inflammation

In studies with mice models VCE-003, a synthetic derivative of cannabigerol (CBG), was shown to be neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory and thus may “have high potential for the treatment of Huntington's disease (HD) and other neurodegenerative diseases with neuroinflammatory traits.”

Instituto Ramón y Cajal de Investigación Sanitaria (IRYCIS), Madrid, Spain.

Díaz-Alonso J, et al. Sci Rep 2016;6:29789.

Science/Cells — CBD may be helpful in disc herniation

Cells from the inner gel-like center, the nucleus pulposus, of intervertebral discs were taken from rats. Experiments showed, that CBD (cannabidiol) may have protective effects on these cells.

Second Affiliated Hospital of Medical School of Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China.

Chen JHou C, et al. Mol Med Rep. 2016 Jul 13. [in press]

Science/Human — CB1 receptors increase after stroke

Using tissue from 9 patients, who died from cerebral infarction researchers found an increased number of CB1 receptors in the ischemic region “suggesting the inflammatory reaction to the ischemic insult.”

Cattinara Hospital, Trieste, Italy.

Caruso P, et al. J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2016 Jul 14. [in press]

Science — THC capsules are stable for three months at room temperature

Resarch shows that THC (dronabinol) capsules may be stored at room temperature in their original packaging for up to three months without compromising capsule appearance and with minimal reduction in THC concentration.

University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Aurora, USA.

Wempe MF, et al. Am J Health Syst Pharm 2016;73(14):1088-92.

Science/Cells — PEA and luteolin excert synergistic effects to protect brain cells

Scientists showed that the combination of palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), an endocannabinoid, and the flavonoid luteolin together exert neuroprotective activities by reducing mast cell-mediated toxicity to nerve cells and susceptibility to reduced supply with glucose.

University of Brescia, Italy.

Parrella E, et al. Brain Res. 2016 Jul 13. [in press]

Science/Animal — Abnormal CBD may be useful in inflammatory diseases of the bowel

In a mouse model of bowel inflammation the synthetic cannabinoid abnormal CBD reduced inflammation and improved wound healing.

University of Calgary, Canada.

Krohn RM, et al. J Inflamm (Lond) 2016;13:21

Science/Animal — A synthetic CBD derivative was more potent than CBD

In experiments with mice a synthetic fluorinated CBD, called HUF-101, was more potent than CBD to excert anxiolytic, antidepressant, antipsychotic and anti-compulsive activity.

Medical Faculty, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.

Breuer A, et al. PLoS One 2016;11(7):e0158779.

Science/Human — Cannabis use has no effect on viral load in HIV positive patients

In a survey of 1902 persons living with HIV 20 % reported cannabis use. The data showed that there was no significant association between cannabis use and suppression of the HI virus by standard treatment.

College of Medicine, University of Florida , Gainesville, USA.

Okafor CN, et al. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2016:1-8.

Science/Human — Certain genetic variants of FAAH are associated with increased cannabis use disorders

Certain genetic variants of the enzyme FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase), which is responsible for the degradation of anandamide are associated with an increased risk for cannabis use disorders in young adults.

The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, USA.

Melroy-Greif WE, et al. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2016 Jun 25. [in press]