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IACM-Bulletin of May 6, 2012


๐ŸŒ USA โ€” Connecticut will become the 17th state to legalize the medical use of cannabis

A bill legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes has passed the Connecticut Senate on 5 May. The state joins 16 other states and Washington D.C. in enacting such legislation. State senators voted 21-to-13 in favour of the measure. The state House of Representatives already passed the measure. Governor Dannel P. Malloy, who has said he supports the measure, is expected to sign the legislation into law.

The bill moves away from the largely criticized precedent set in California, proposing a complex regulated system of cultivation, dispensing and licensing. It requires a recommendation from an individual's physician. Under the legislation, cannabis would be sold in multiple forms at dispensaries, which must have a licensed pharmacist on staff. It would be marketed only to patients authorized to use it. The measure also outlines diseases that would be treated by the drug, establishes a registry for patients and caregivers and restricts cultivating the plant to growers with permits.

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(Source: Associated Press of 5 May 2012)

๐ŸŒ USA โ€” President Barack Obama explains his policy on medical cannabis in states, where it was legalized

Amid an increased crackdown on medical cannabis producers President Barack Obama faced questions in a new interview with the journal Rolling Stone about the seeming disconnect between his rhetoric during the 2008 presidential election campaign and his administration's actions since he took office. "I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws [on medical cannabis]," Obama promised in 2008. But Justice Minister Eric Holder announced in 2010 that federal authorities would continue to prosecute individuals for the possession of cannabis for medicinal purposes, despite its legalized status in some states. Since then, the administration has unleashed an interagency cannabis crackdown that goes beyond anything seen under the Bush administration, with more than 100 raids in California, Colorado and cannabis dispensaries in other states, where the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes is legal under state law.

Speaking with Rolling Stone, the president tried to explain his original comments, claiming that the recent pressure on dispensaries and providers was in line with his intent. "What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana," Obama said. "I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana -- and the reason is, because it's against federal law." The president continued: "I can't nullify congressional law. I can't ask the Justice Department to say, 'Ignore completely a federal law that's on the books.' What I can say is, 'Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.' As a consequence, there haven't been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes."

Lawmakers in five states that have legalized medical cannabis recently wrote a letter to Obama criticizing him for a supposed "contradiction" on the matter and calling on the federal government "not to interfere with our ability to control and regulate how medical marijuana is grown and distributed." On 2 May Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives released a statement pushing back against the Obama administration's interference with medical cannabis state laws. "I have strong concerns about the recent actions by the federal government that threaten the safe access of medicinal marijuana to alleviate the suffering of patients in California," she said, "and undermine a policy that has been in place under which the federal government did not pursue individuals whose actions complied with state laws providing for medicinal marijuana."

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(Sources: Huffington Post of 25 April and 3 May 2012)

News in brief

๐ŸŒ Holland โ€” Court upholds ban on access of foreigners to coffee shops

A controversial law that will make it harder for foreign tourists to buy cannabis at coffee shops has been upheld by a Dutch court. The law is targeted at foreigners, who have come to the country to buy cannabis. It went into force in three southern provinces on 1 May before going nationwide next year. It means coffee shops can only sell cannabis to registered members. Only locals, whether Dutch or foreign residents, will be allowed to join a coffee shop, and each coffee shop will be limited to 2,000 members. (Source: Reuters of 27 April 2012)

๐Ÿท๏ธ Science/Animal โ€” Mitigation of unpleasant memory by CBD

CBD (cannabidiol) was able to mitigate an established memory in rats, who have been subjected to a fearful event. Results of this research show that recent and older fear memories were both reduced by CBD with a consequent long-lasting relief in contextual fear-induced freezing. This CBD effect is dependent on memory reactivation. Department of Pharmacology, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianรณpolis, SC, Brazil. (Source: Stern CA, et al. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2012 May 2. [in press])

๐Ÿท๏ธ Science/Animal โ€” CBD reduces appetite

CBN (cannabinol) induced a CB1 receptor-mediated increase in appetitive behaviours of rats, while CBD (cannabidiol) significantly reduced total chow consumption over the test period. CBG (cannabigerol) administration induced no changes to feeding behaviour. School of Pharmacy, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, Berkshire, UK. (Source: Farrimond JA, et al. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Apr 28. [in press])

๐Ÿท๏ธ Science/Human โ€” Low levels of CB1 receptors in women with eating disorders and self-injurious behaviour

The level of CB1 receptors were investigated in women with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Nine patients with these eating disorders with repetitive wrist cutting were compared to 34 eating disorder patients without wrist cutting and 26 healthy controls. Eating disorder patients with self-injurious wrist cutting exhibited significantly lower CB1 receptor levels compared with the other two groups. Medical School of Hannover and University of Frankfurt, Germany. (Source: Schroeder M, et al. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2012 Apr 27. [in press])

๐Ÿท๏ธ Science/Human โ€” Changes in functional interactions between brain regions in regular cannabis users

There was an increase in functional interactions between the prefrontal cortex and the occipitoparietal cortex in regular cannabis users compared to non users. In a test on cognitive performance there was no difference between groups. Researchers wrote that "these changes may have a compensatory role in mitigating cannabis-related impairments in cognitive control." Department of Psychiatry, Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, University of Melbourne and Melbourne Health, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. (Source: Harding IH, et al. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2012 Apr 25. [in press])

๐Ÿท๏ธ Science/Animal โ€” A compound of the plant kava kava activates the CB1 receptor

Yangonin, a compound of the kava plant binds to the CB1 receptor. Researchers wrote: "The CB1 receptor affinity of yangonin suggests that the endocannabinoid system might contribute to the complex human psychopharmacology of the traditional kava drink and the anxiolytic preparations obtained from the kava plant." Endocannabinoid Research Group, Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Italy. (Source: Ligresti A, et al. Pharmacol Res. 2012 Apr 14. [in press])

๐Ÿท๏ธ Science/Animal โ€” The CB2 receptor is involved in allergic inflammation

Mice without CB2 receptors presented with decreased allergic inflammation than normal mice. Studies were performed with three different allergic skin affection models, and there was a significant decrease in oedema of the ear in mice without CB2 receptors. Pharmaceutical Frontier Research Laboratories, Central Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Yokohama, Japan. (Source: Mimura T, et al. Life Sci. 2012 Apr 14. [in press])

๐Ÿท๏ธ Science/Animal โ€” CBD shows anti-epileptic effects

CBD (cannabidiol) showed anti-epileptic effects in two animal models of seizures. In the pilocarpine model CBD significantly reduced the percentage of animals experiencing the most severe seizures. In the penicillin model, CBD significantly decreased the percentage of mortality as a result of seizures; CBD also decreased the percentage of animals experiencing the most severe tonic-clonic seizures. School of Pharmacy, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AJ, UK; School of Psychology, University of Reading, Whiteknights, UK. (Source: Jones NA, et al. Seizure. 2012 Apr 18. [in press])