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IACM-Bulletin of March 3, 2002
About 100 invited scientists and governmental representatives met for a scientific conference on cannabis in Brussels on 25 February initiated by the health ministers of Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, and Germany, among them four health ministers of the inviting countries and one drugs commissioner (Germany).
The conference gave an overview on the actual state of cannabis research, including epidemiological, psychological, sociological, and neurobiological topics on recreational use. The medical use of cannabis was only a minor topic with a talk by a representative of the Dutch Office for Medicinal Cannabis. Most of the participants agreed in the medical potential of the drug with little opposition, among them from a representative of the Swedish Health ministry.
Pharmos Corporation described progress by the company in developing a new class of synthetic compounds that specifically bind to cannabinoid-2 receptors found on immune cells. These bicyclic dextrocannabinoid compounds do not cause effects on psyche and circulation.
Pharmos is investigating them as anti-inflammatory modulators of the immune system, potentially effective in autoimmune and neurological diseases. The development of these compounds closely follows successful development of the tricyclic THC derivative dexanabinol. Phase III clinical studies with dexanabinol started last year in several Europian countries to test its effect on severe brain injury.
Dr. George Fink, Vice President of Research, commented, "The use of natural cannabinoids for medicinal purposes have significant medical and regulatory limitations because they bind to the CB1 receptors that are located mainly in the nervous system, and thereby cause unwanted psychotropic and other side effects."
(Source: PR Newswire of 25 February 2002)
A study by Ethan Russo and colleagues published in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics investigated benefits and adverse effects of cannabis in four patients who legally receive marijuana for medicinal purposes in the USA. They have been smoking government-grown cannabis for 11 to 27 years. This did not produce significant physical or cognitive impairment. A PDF file of the study is available on the IACM web site at
On 26 February Unimed Pharmaceuticals announced that they have entered into a collaboration with the company Inhale to develop a metered dose inhaler (MDI) of dronabinol (THC). Unimed is already marketing the synthetic dronabinol preparation Marinol capsules. (Source: Business Wire of 26 February 2002)
The Office for Medicinal Cannabis of the Dutch Ministry of Health is wants to conduct a clinical study on smoked cannabis in 16 multiple sclerosis patients. Results are expected to be available in approximately one year. This will be the first clinical study with smoked cannabis in Europe since the 1989 study with an MS sufferer at the university of Goettingen (Germany). (Sources: Drug Policy Alliance of 21 February 2002; Meinck HM, et al. J Neurol 1989;236(2):120-122)
Cannabis will be available on prescription as early as 2004 if clinical trials are successful, the Department of Health said on 18 February. "Results are expected at the end of 2002," Health Minister Lord Hunt said. The results will have to be evaluated than by the responsible authorities. (Source: Reuters of 18 February 2002)
On 18 February Ireland's main opposition party called for cannabis to be made available on prescription in the Republic. Fine Gael health spokesman Gay Mitchell promised to raise the matter with health minister Michael Martin in the Irish Parliament. (Source: PA News of 18 February 2002)