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IACM-Bulletin of November 13, 2016


USA — Florida, North Dakota, Arkansas and Montana legalize the medical use of cannabis

On 9 November the voters of four states (California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada) legalized the recreational use of cannabis. In additional four states voters passed bills on the medical use of cannabis (Florida, North Dakota, Montana and Arkansas). Now 29 states and the District of Columbia have laws allowing access to the medical use of cannabis to different extents. Here is an overview on the new medical cannabis laws.

Florida: The amendment states that patients with illnesses of the “same kind or class as or comparable to” serious illnesses, such as cancer, HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy would be eligible to access medical marijuana. Some 450,000 residents (2.5% of the population) would qualify, according to The News-Press in Fort Myers.

North Dakota: According to the Bismark Tribune, “The measure will allow people to possess up to 3 ounces [about 84 grams] of cannabis for treatment of up to nearly a dozen medical conditions. Facilities for medical marijuana distribution will be licensed by the state Health Department and operated by nonprofit organizations.”

Montana: The Independent Record in Helena reported that the measure means that “providers of the drug will not be limited to the number of patients they can serve:” The current law restricts the limit to three patients, who could be served by one provider. Most medical cannabis patients were left without a registered provider under the restrictions.

Arkansas: The measure allows people who have any of 18 qualifying conditions — such as cancer, glaucoma, Tourette's syndrome, Alzheimer's disease and hepatitis C — to get cannabis from dispensaries.

Washington Post of 9 November 2016

News in brief

Australia — Government legalizes cannabis cultivation for medicinal purposes

While Australia passed the Narcotic Drugs Amendment Bill in February, it didn’t go into effect until the end of October 2016. The new law allows for organizations in Australia to cultivate and manufacture cannabis for scientific and medicinal purposes, once approved and licensed by the government.

RT of 1 November 2016

Norway — Government allows medical use of cannabis

The Norwegian Agency for Medicinal Drugs and the Directorate for Health think that a small group of patients need cannabis for medicinal purposes. Therefore it is intended to make this therapy possible. Cannabis flowers will mainly be imported from the Netherlands.

Nettavisen of 9 November 2016

Science/Human — Cannabis use not associated with accelerated decline in cognitive abilities

In a study with 1,897 Australians recruited at 40-46 years of age for the investigation and followed up 4 years (94%) and 8 years (87%) later scientists found that “mid-life cannabis users had poorer verbal recall than non-users, but this was not related to their current level of cannabis use, and cannabis use was not associated with accelerated cognitive decline.”

National Drug Research Institute, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

McKetin R, et al. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2016;169:134-140.

Science/Human — Cannabis use associated with reduced risk for elevated concentrations of TSH

In a study with 5280 adults (18 to 69 years) recent cannabis use was not associated with dysfunction of the thyroid. Cannabis users had a lower risk of elevated thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).

Infant and Children's Hospital of Brooklyn, Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, USA.

Malhotra S, et al. Thyroid. 2016 Oct 31. [in press]

Science — Vaporization of cannabis increasingly used in Canada

According to a survey of 364 medical cannabis users using a vaporizer was the most popular mode of delivery for medical cannabis (53 %), followed by smoking a joint (47 %). A majority of current vaporizer users reported using a portable vaporizer (67.2 %).

School of Public Health & Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Canada.

Shiplo S, et al. Harm Reduct J. 2016;13(1):30.

Science/Cells — Mechanisms by which THC induces programmed cell death in cancer cells

Researchers investigated the mechanisms, by which THC induces apoptosis, a form of programmed cell death in glioblastoma cells. THC causes changes in the endoplasmic reticulum of the cells, which ultimately leads to the activation of apoptotic cell death.

School of Biology, Complutense University, Madrid, Spain.

Hernández-Tiedra S, et al. Autophagy. 2016;12(11):2213-2229.

Science/Animal — CB1 receptors of the mitochondria involved in memory impairment

CB1 receptors present on the mitochondria of nerve cells in the hippocampus, a certain brain region, are involved in memory impairment caused by cannabinoids. Activation of the CB1 receptors reduces certain biological processes in these cell organelles.

INSERM, NeuroCentre Magendie, Bordeaux, France.

Hebert-Chatelain E, et al. Nature. 2016 Nov 9. [in press]

Science/Cells — CB1 receptors in muscle cells are mainly localized on mitochondria

Researchers found that CB1 receptors in skeletal and heart muscles are predominantly localized in mitochondria, a certain form of cell organelles, also called the “powerhouse of the cells.” The activation of these receptors may participate in the mitochondrial regulation of the oxidative activity.

Faculty of Medicine and Nursing, University of the Basque Country, Leioa, Spain.

Mendizabal-Zubiaga J, et al. Front Physiol. 2016;7:476.

Science/Cells — Synergistic activity of CBD and certain chemotherapeutic agents in brain cancer

In human glioblastoma cells CBD (cannabidiol) acted synergistically with DNA damaging agents (temozolomide, carmustine or cisplatin), which are used for the treatment of cancer. However, CBD also reduced cell viability and proliferation of healthy cells. At low concentrations CBD inhibited the effects of the chemotherapeutic agents.

University of Washington, USA.

Deng L, et al. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2016 Nov 7. [in press]

Science/Animal — The activation of the CB2 receptor may increase the susceptibility to epileptic seizures

In a rat model of epilepsy a synthetic cannabinoid (AM1241), which selectively activates the CB2 receptor, increased number and severity of generalized seizures.

Centro de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brazil.

de Carvalho CR, et al. Epilepsy Res. 2016;127:160-167

Science/Human — In a subpopulation of people with a high risk for the development of psychosis cannabis use may be a risk factor

In a study with 190 individuals at ultra-high risk for psychosis, cannabis use was associated with a higher risk for the development of psychosis in a subgroup of these individuals. Authors wrote that “whether this reflects underlying genetic vulnerability requires further study.”

Orygen, The National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health, Parkville, Australia.

McHugh MJ, et al. Psychol Med. 2016 Nov 8:1-11. [in press]

Science/Human — Untreated bipolar disorder is associated with cannabis use

In 62 patients with untreated bipolar disorder the risk for excessive cannabis use was increased.

Oslo University Hospital and Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.

Kvitland LR, et al. Psychiatry Res. 2016 Oct 28. [in press]

Science/Animal — Low doses of CBD had no neuroprotective effects

In a study with piglets, which were deprived of blood supply to the brain for a certain time low doses of CBD (1mg per kg body weight) did not have protective effects to nerve cells of the brain. Authors wrote that “evaluation of CBD in higher doses might be warranted.”

Oslo University Hospital, Rikshospitalet, Norway.

Garberg HT, et al. Pediatr Res. 2016;80(5):710-718.

Science — THC and CBD are stable in cookies

In a study with ten commercially available cookies THC and CBD were found to be stable at room temperature for at least 3 months.

Department of Pathology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, USA.

Wolf CE, et al. J Anal Toxicol. 2016 Oct 18. [in press]

Science/Animal — Activation of the CB1 receptor may be involved in the development of endometriosis

Scientists found “that endocannabinoid signalling via CB1 receptor plays a role in the development of endometriosis in a mouse model. However, the relative contribution of the CB1-mediated signalling pathways active in inflammatory, uterine and peritoneal cells remains to be ascertained.”

IRCCS Ospedale San Raffaele, Milan, Italy.

Sanchez AM, et al. Hum Reprod. 2016 Nov 7. [in press]

Science/Animal — Palmitoylethanolamide in combination with polydatin reduced endometriosis

In a study with rats a combination of the endocannabinoid palmitoylethanolamide and polydatin (piceid), a derivative of the plant compound resveratrol, inhibited the development of endometriotic lesions.

University of Messina, Italy.

Di Paola R, et al. Front Pharmacol. 2016;7:382.

Science/Human — Cannabis smoking may be damaging to the arteries

In a study with 504 tobacco-only smokers, 114 tobacco and cannabis smokers and 534 non-smokers scientists found that cannabis smoking is associated with an acceleration of aging of the arteries as measured by stiffness of arteries over time. Researchers could not investigate whether this effect was due to cannabis compounds or due to toxic combustion products in the smoke.

University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia.

Reece AS, et al. BMJ Open. 2016;6(11):e011891.