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IACM-Bulletin of December 9, 2001


France — Study of INSERM on health effects of cannabis

On 22 November the French National Health and Medical Research Institute (Inserm, Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale) presented a 58-page literature review with the title "Cannabis - which effects on behaviour and health?".

The report was ordered by a governmental working group on the fight against drugs and drug addiction. Main topics of the report are factors that influence use, acute and chronic effects, and groups of special interest (pregnant women, individuals with mental disorders). It did not deal with the medical use of cannabis.

The report stated that


##about 10 percent of those who ever used cannabis have a risk to become dependent, compared to 30 percent with tobacco,

##regular use of cannabis may increase the risk for certain cancers since cannabis smoke contains more carcinogens than tobacco smoke,

##cannabis effects on the nerves are functional and reversible, and do not cause long-term damage.


Health Minister Bernard Kouchner, who presented the report, confirmed to launch five studies in 2002 to evaluate the medical value of cannabis, among them in multiple sclerosis and pain.

(Sources: Inserm. Cannabis - quels effects sur le comportement et la santé ? Paris: Les éditions Inserm, 2001; Le Quotidien de Médecine of 23 November 2001; Libération of 23 November 2001)

Science USA — Approval for studies at the University of California from DEA

The University of California at San Diego has received final approval from the federal government for a study on the medical benefits of marijuana. Researchers intend to study the effects of cannabis on patients with multiple sclerosis and on AIDS patients with neuropathy (nerve pain).

The studies will be the first of the university's Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, a program created by the state Legislature in 1999. Project directors are Dr. Jody Corey-Bloom for the MS study and Dr. Ronald Ellis for the neuropathy study.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) granted the final approval on 28 November.

(Sources: AP of 29 November 2001, ASCRIBE NEWS via COMTEX of 30 November 2001)

News in brief

Italy — Acquittal with 700 grams

For the first time, a court accepted the medical use of cannabis as legal. A judge of the Court of Rome dismissed charges against a 44 year old man, accused of importing 700 grams of hashish. The act was not regarded as a crime because the accused used cannabis to control his epilepsy and to avoid the use of heavy doses of barbiturates. (Source: La Repubblica of 23 November 2001)

USA — Hyperactivity in children

An American judge has allowed the mother of a hyperactive child to carry on giving him cannabis. The judge dismissed a petition by social services to remove the child from his mother's home in California. The mother tried cannabis after a suggestion of a paediatrician. She reported her son's behaviour improved markedly, and he developed friendships with other children. (Source: WENN via COMTEX of 6 December 2001)

Science — Dexanabinol in brain injury

Israeli pharmaceutical company Pharmos said on 29 November a two-year trial to test the effect of dexanabinol on severe brain injury has recently started in six European countries. Dexanabinol is a non-psychotropic THC-derivative. (Source: Reuters of 29 November 2001)

Science — Intraocular pressure

Cannabinoid receptors (CB1) have been found in the trabecular meshwork and ciliary processes of the human eye. The endocannabinoid anandamide was detected in the trabecular meshwork. Authors assume that the intraocular pressure-lowering effects of cannabinoids result from activation of CB1 receptors in the trabecular meshwork, increasing aqueous outflow. (Source: Stamer WD, et al. Eur J Pharmacol 2001 Nov 23;431(3):277-286)

Science — Brain temperature

THC in doses of 0.1 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg significantly increased the temperature of the brain and did not significantly change body core temperature in rats. (Source: Perron RR, et al. Neuroreport 2001 Dec 4;12(17):3791-4)

Science — Appetite

Administration of anandamide into the ventromedial hypothalamus (a brain region) stimulated appetite in rats by a CB1 receptor dependent mechanism. (Source: Jamshidi N, Taylor DA. Br J Pharmacol 2001 Nov;134(6):1151-4)