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IACM-Bulletin of July 7, 2019


Switzerland — Government wants to make cannabis available for medical use

The Swiss government aims to make it easier for patients to get medical cannabis, proposing on 26 June to allow prescriptions for cannabis to treat people suffering from cancer or other serious conditions.

The proposal would replace the current system, in which those seeking medical cannabis must apply for an exception from the Federal Health Office to get what is otherwise an illegal drug. “The proposal makes it possible for doctors to directly prescribe cannabis as part of their treatment,” the Swiss cabinet said in a statement. “Growing and processing medical cannabis as well as its sale would then be possible under a system regulated” by Swissmedic, the country’s drug regulatory agency.

Reuters of 26 June 2019

Science/Human — Nabilone was effective in in chronic diarrhea according to a case series

According to a case series at the Medical Toxicology and Headache Center at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Medina, Italy, and other institutions nabilone, a derivative of THC, improved refractory chronic diarrhoea in 6 patients. After three months of therapy, oral nabilone improved the health of nearly all patients, with visible improvements in reducing diarrheal symptoms and weight gain.

Most of the benefits persisted through the three-month follow-up. Only one patient interrupted the treatment after one month, due to severe fatigue and mental confusion; the symptoms disappeared in the follow-up period.

Pellesi L, et al. Nabilone administration in refractory chronic diarrhea: a case series. BMC Gastroenterology 2019;19:105.

Science/Human — Cannabis use reduces the incidence of fatty liver disease

In a sample of 390 patients with psychosis cannabis use was associated with a reduced incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease after 3 years of follow-up. Patients were treated at the Department of Psychiatry of the University Hospital de Valdecilla in Santander, Spain. Patients were evaluated at baseline and after 3 years of initiating antipsychotic treatment.

At 3-year follow-up, cannabis users presented significantly lower fatty liver disease scores than non-users. Moreover, cannabis users less frequently met the criteria for liver steatosis than non-users. Authors concluded that “cannabis consumption may produce a protective effect against liver steatosis in psychosis, probably through the modulation of antipsychotic-induced weight gain.”

Vázquez-Bourgon J, de la Foz VO, Suarez-Pereira I, Iruzubieta P, Arias-Loste MT, Setién-Suero E, Ayesa-Arriola R, Gómez-Revuelta M, Crespo J, Facorro BC. Cannabis consumption and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. A three years longitudinal study in first episode non-affective psychosis patients. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2019 Jun 19:109677.

Science/Human — Many people are replacing opioids and sleep medication by cannabis

In places where it's legal, people are often turning to cannabis to relieve pain and insomnia, a new study finds. Of the 65 percent who said they use cannabis to quell pain, 80 percent said it was very or extremely helpful, the study found.

For many, cannabis is replacing over-the-counter painkillers, prescription opioids and sleep aids. "These aren't the only reasons people are using marijuana, but it's one of the drivers for use," said study author Dr. Gwen Wurm, an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine."People who are using it for those reasons are finding it to be effective," she said. The findings stem from a survey of 1,000 people who use cannabis in Colorado, where it is legal. Of the 65 percent who said they use cannabis to quell pain, 80 percent said it was very or extremely helpful.

Bachhuber M, Arnsten JH, Wurm G, Phytother. Use of Cannabis to Relieve Pain and Promote Sleep by Customers at an Adult Use Dispensary. J Psychoactive Drugs. 2019 Jul 2. [in press]

UPI of 2 July 2019

News in brief

Canada — The government passed a law, which pardons citizens with a criminal record for cannabis possession

The Canadian government passed a law that would allow its citizens with a criminal record for cannabis possession to be pardoned without any cost and expedite a process that previously could take up a decade.

Reuters of 20 June 2019

USA — Majority of adults support legalisation of cannabis for adults

A majority of adults in the U.S. (63%) support legalizing the recreational use of cannabis at the national level according to a new Axios|SurveyMonkey poll, even though only about a quarter (26%) say they’re interested in purchasing cannabis for their own personal use. The survey was conducted between 6 and 10 June 2019 with a sample size of 4486 participants.

Survey of June 2019

Czech Republic — About 700 patients receive cannabis by prescription

By the end of May this year, cannabis was prescribed at least once and issued to 665 patients in the country. The number of registered doctors for cannabis prescription has also multiplied, and almost 100 are currently prescribing medicinal cannabis. Information was given by government agencies during a symposium held on 17 June 2019.

Xin Hua of 18 June 2019

France — Experts urge the government to legalise cannabis

A government-tasked commission has advised France to legalise cannabis to “take back control” of the black market, calling prohibition an abject “failure”.

The Telegraph of 20 June 2019

Science/Human — Bioavailability of THC is influenced by concomitant use of CBD

In a placebo-controlled study concomitant promotion of high doses of CBD decreased systemic availability of THC. Frequent cannabis users have higher systemic availability of THC and CBD.

School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Hunter Medical Research Institute, Newcastle, Australia.

Liu Z, et al. Intern Med J. 2019 Jul 1. [in press].

Science/Human — Palmitoylethanolamine reduces pruritus in clinical study

In a clinical study with 22 patients with pruritus application of a cream containing palmitoylethanolamine (PEA) reduced pruritus. Authors wrote that “creams with a higher concentration may be even more effective with broader indications.”

Abteilung für Klinische Neurodermatologie, Klinik und Poliklinik für Hautkrankheiten, Universitätsklinikum Münster, Germany.

Ständer S, et al. Hautarzt. 2006;57(9):801-7.

Science/Human — In patients with HIV cannabis use induces anti-inflammatory effects

In HIV-infected individuals under treatment with ART using cannabis, cocaine or cannabis plus cocaine cannabis use was associated with an anti-inflammatory profile of cytokines.

Instituto de Patologia Tropical e Saúde Pública, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Goiânia, Goiás, Brasil.

Castro FOF, et al. AIDS. 2019 Jun 26. [in press]

Science/Cells — A cannabis extract and CBD inhibit mediators of skin inflammation

Scientists investigated the effects of a cannabis extract and CBD on human skin cells (keratinocytes). CBD was mainly responsible for reduced activity of genes involved in wound healing and skin inflammation.

Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.

Sangiovanni E, et al. Phytother Res. 2019 Jun 27. [in press]

Science/Human — Support of the medical use of cannabis depends on information

According to a survey among neurologists in Japan those who were better informed about the medical value of cannabis were more supportive of its use.

Department of Neurology, Kumamoto University Hospital, Japan.

Masataka Y, et al., Rinsho Shinkeigaku. 2019 Jun 27. [in press]

Science/Human — Patients with schizophrenia show an imbalanced endocannabinoid system in the brain

The endocannabinoid system was imbalanced in the prefrontal cortex of subjects with schizophrenia according to an analysis after death.

Department of Pharmacology, University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Leioa, Spain.

Muguruza C, et al. J Psychopharmacol. 2019 Jun 25 [in press]

Science — Antibacterial effects of essential oils in cannabis

Scientists investigated antibacterial effects of essential oils in cannabis of fibre type. Alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, beta-myrcene and beta-caryophyllene were the major components in all essential oils. Six were shown to be effective against gram-positive bacteria.

Department of Life Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.

Ramona Iseppi, et al. Molecules. 2019;24(12).

Science/Animal — Transcranial magnetic stimulation enhances endocannabinoid signalling

Repetitive high-frequency transcranial magnetic stimulation reverses depressive-like behaviors in chronic unpredictable stress-treated rats by enhancing endocannabinoid signaling.

Department of Psychiatry, Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, China.

Xue SS, et al. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2019 Jun 20 [in press]

Science/Animal — Omega-3 endocannabinoid-epoxides are novel anti-inflammatory substances

Scientists discovered and characterised naturally occurring omega-3-derived endocannabinoid epoxides. They exerted critical roles during inflammation.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.

Das A, et al. Curr Dev Nutr. 2019;3(Suppl 1).

Science/Animal — Quetiapine causes heart damage, which may be protected by cannabinoids

The antipsychotic medication quetiapine induces heart damage and this effect may be protected by antagonism at the CB1 receptor and activation of the CB2 receptor.

Department of Forensic Medicine, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.

Li X, et al. Toxicol Lett. 2019;313:77-90.

Science/Animal — Cannabinoids may reduce the use of morphine by activation of both cannabinoid receptors

In studies with mice cannabinoids produce an additive or synergistic effect on analgesia when combined with morphine and this effect varies with the pain assay and may be mediated by CB1 or CB2 receptors.

Center for Substance Abuse Research, Departments of Pharmacology, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, USA.

Chen X, et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2019 Jun 19. [in press]

Science/Human — Cannabis use may be associated with reduced sperm motility

Scientists conducted a study at a university-based facility in Jamaica. Routine semen analyses were performed on 229 men ages 23-72 years. Recent use of cannabis as well as moderate to large quantities had an impact on sperm motility and morphology in men being investigated for infertility.

The Hugh Wynter Fertility Management Unit, The University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica.

Carroll K, et al. Andrology. 2019 Jul 2. [in press]

Science — Supplements in the soil improve growth of cannabis plants and influence cannabinoid content

Researchers demonstrated that “ supplements influence cannabinoid content in cannabis in an organ- and spatial-dependent manner. Most importantly, the results confirm the potential of environmental factors to regulate concentrations of individual cannabinoids in medical cannabis.“

Institute of Soil Water and Environmental Sciences, Volcani Center, Rishon LeZion, Israel.

Bernstein N, et al. Front Plant Sci. 2019;10:736.

Science/Animal — Beta-caryophyllene reduces alcohol intake

In a study with mice beta-caryophyllene and its derivative caryophyllene oxide reduced alcohol intake and this effect was mediated by the CB2 receptor. Caryophyllene oxide was more effective than beta-caryophyllene.

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Mercer University College of Pharmacy, Mercer University Health Sciences Center, Atlanta, USA.

Oppong-Damoah A, et al. Heliyon. 2019;5(6):e01915.