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IACM-Bulletin of May 1, 2016


Canada — The government intends to legalize cannabis in 2017

Canada's Liberal government will introduce a law in spring 2017 to legalize recreational cannabis, it said on 20 April, fulfilling an election pledge. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised during last year's election campaign that his Liberals would legalize recreational cannabis, but the time frame has been unclear. Trudeau has previously admitted to smoking cannabis a few times in his life but said he never enjoyed it much.

Health Minister Jane Philpott, speaking at a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, said the Canadian law will ensure cannabis is kept away from children and keep criminals from profiting from its sale. "We will work with law enforcement partners to encourage appropriate and proportionate criminal justice measures," she said. Gerard Deltell from Canada's opposition Conservatives, said the country's proposed legislation would harm people's health and lead to life-long problems among users. The Canadian government has not provided details on production and distribution plans.

Reuters of 20 April 2016

News in brief

World — Conferences and lectures in Uruguay, Switzerland, France and Germany

Please find here information on upcoming conferences and lectures. Please inform us about your conference if you want it to be listed on the IACM website.

World — Medical Cannabis Declaration starts lectures on cannabis as medicine

The first multi-lingual course on cannabis as medicine, which besides European languages includes Russian, Chinese (Mandarin), Arab and Hindi, has started on the MCD website. The first topic is “Medical effective cannabis compounds”. The next topics will be “The endocannabinoid system: the body’s own cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors”, “The history of the medical use of cannabis products”, “The cannabis dilemma: a broad therapeutic potential, but limited clinical research”, “The medical benefits of cannabis and THC”, “Optimum decarboxylation of THC and CBD by heating”.

Medical Cannabis Declaration

USA — Pennsylvania becomes the 24th state to legalize the medical use of cannabis

On 17 April Governor Wolf signed a bill, legalizing the medical use of cannabis in Pennsylvania. “I am proud to sign this bill that will provide long overdue medical relief to patients and families who could benefit from this treatment.”

Press release by the Governor of 17 April 2016

USA — Maine could become the first state to allow the medical use of cannabis for the treatment of opioid dependence

Nearly 30 medical cannabis caregivers and patients told state regulators at a public hearing on 19 April that cannabis eases the symptoms of opioid withdrawal and offers a healthier alternative to the prescription painkillers that can lead to addiction.

CBS News of 19 April 2016

Mexico — President proposes legalizing the medical use of cannabis

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on 21 April announced plans to legalize cannabis-based medicines, and proposed raising the amount of the drug that can be legally carried, in the wake of a national drug policy review.

Reuters of 21 April 2016

USA — In November citizens of Maine will decide on whether to legalize the use of cannabis

A referendum proposal to legalize cannabis for recreational use in Maine has met the threshold to appear on the November ballot.

ABC News of 28 April 2016

UK — About half of Britains support legalization of cannabis

According to a poll of 2000 people by the company ORB 47% of participants support the sale of cannabis through licensed shops, while 39% oppose it and 14% don’t know.

Independent of 9 April 2016

Science/Animal — THC had no effect on disease progression in monkey model of AIDS

Rhesus macaques, which were infected with the SI virus, corresponding to the HIV of humans, were treated with 0.32 mg/kg body weight or placebo for 428 days. Researchers noted that it is “unlikely” that THC has a negative effect on disease progression.

Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China.

Wei Q, et al. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2016 Apr 25. [in press]

Science/Human — Long-term cannabis use was associated with a small increase of mortality

In a study with 50,373 Swedish male military conscripts (ages 18-19), who were followed in the National Cause of Death Register up to around age 60, heavy cannabis use at the start of the study was associated with a higher risk of death (hazard ratio=1.4) than those without such a history. Authors noted that the results “should be interpreted with caution because of a lack of information on confounders in the period after conscription.” Thus, it is unclear if cannabis is the cause for this higher risk.

Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

Manrique-Garcia E, et al. Am J Psychiatry. 2016 Apr 22. [in press]

Israel — Rheumatologists lack information on the medical use of cannabis

Israeli rheumatologists lack confidence in their knowledge of cannabinoids in general, yet are open to the possibility of introducing this treatment. This is the result of a survey among 119 rheumatologists, of whom 23 responded.

Institute of Rheumatology, Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Ablin JN, et al. Med J 2016;7(2).

Science/Cells — Several cannabinoids may be useful in the treatment of acne

In experiments with sebocytes, cells that secrete sebum, some cannabinoids increased sebum production, while others decreased. Researchers wrote that their “data suggest that CBG and CBGV may have potential in the treatment of dry-skin syndrome, whereas CBC, CBDV and especially THCV show promise to become highly efficient, novel anti-acne agents.”

Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Debrecen, Hungary.

Oláh A, et al. Exp Dermatol. 2016 Apr 20. [in press]

Science/Human — The synthetic cannabinoid nabilone may be helpful in the treatment of cannabis dependence

In a study with 11 cannabis users 8 days of administration of the synthetic cannabinoid nabilone either alone or in combination with zolpidem reduced withdrawal symptoms.

New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University Medical Center, New York, USA.

Herrmann ES, et al. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2016 Apr 16. [in press]

Science/Human — Plant cannabis is preferred over synthetic cannabinoids

In an online survey of 186 adults, who had used both synthetic cannabinoids and plant cannabis and 181 adults who had used plant cannabis but not synthetic cannabinoids, results show that plant cannabis “is more popular than synthetic cannabinoids.”

Department of Psychology, Bowling Green State University, USA.

Lauritsen KJ, et al. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2016 Feb 24:1-8. [in press]