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IACM-Bulletin of February 5, 2006


Holland β€” Cannabis pharmacy planned in Groningen

Patients seeking pain relief may soon be heading for the Dutch city of Groningen to buy affordable and potent medical cannabis in the country's first pharmacy specializing in the drug. Although cannabis is readily available in the country's famous coffee shops, the foundation for Medicinal Cannabis Netherlands wants to launch a pharmacy in the northern Dutch city so patients can buy high-grade cannabis at affordable prices.

The price of Groningen's medicinal cannabis will be around 5 euros per gram, which is similar to prices in coffee shops the NRC Handelsblad reported on 31 January. The Office of Medicinal Cannabis of the Dutch Health Ministry and the community of Groningen as well as the local police all support the endeavour. Two more cannabis pharmacies are planned in the towns of Hoogezand and Assen.

(Source: Reuters of 1 February 2006)

Canada/USA β€” Steve Kubby extradited from Canada to the USA

Five years after fleeing to Canada to avoid 120 days in jail, medical marijuana activist Steve Kubby returned to California on 26 January. He was arrested by police at San Francisco International Airport as soon as he arrived on a flight from Vancouver. Kubby is suffering from a rare form of cancer (adrenal cancer). He is treating the worst symptoms with cannabis. Kubby, a former Libertarian candidate for governor, was a driving force behind California's 1996 medical marijuana law.

He was extradited to the USA after exhausting his final appeals to remain in Canada, where he seeked asylum status. Steve Kubby, his wife, Michele, and their two daughters fled to British Columbia, Canada, in the spring of 2001. Kubby faces a maximum of three years in jail for alleged probation violations as well as the 120 days imposed by a California court in 2001 for possession of a minute amount of mescaline and psilocin, a compound of psilocybin

(Sources: Los Angeles Times of 28 January 2006, Globe and Mail of 1 February 2006)

News in brief

USA β€” New Mexico

The state Senate overwhelmingly approved a proposal on 30 January to allow seriously ill patients to use cannabis for medical purposes. The bill passed the Senate on a 34-6 vote. It now goes to the House of Representatives, where a similar proposal was stopped last year. The same may happen with the new bill. However, State Governor Bill Richardson has stated that he will sign the bill. (Source: Associated Press of 31 January 2006)

Science β€” Pain

Researchers of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester reviewed the scientific evidence on the use of cannabinoids in chronic pain. In an article for the journal Annals of Pharmacotherapy they conclude: "Cannabinoids provide a potential approach to pain management with a novel therapeutic target and mechanism. Chronic pain often requires a polypharmaceutical approach to management, and cannabinoids are a potential addition to the arsenal of treatment options." (Source: Burns TL, Ineck JR. Ann Pharmacother 2006 Jan 31; [electronic publication ahead of print])

Science β€” Pain

The analgesic activity of the commonly used pain killer paracetamol is prevented by the blockade of cannabinoid CB1 receptors, a new study found. Researchers stated, that these results suggest that pain inhibition by paracetamol "involves the cannabinoid system." (Source: Ottani A, et al. Eur J Pharmacol 2006 Jan 23; [electronic publication ahead of print])

Science β€” Anaesthesia

Researchers measured whole blood levels of anandamide in 12 patients after induction of general anaesthesia with etomidate and maintenance of anaesthesia with the volatile agent sevoflurane as well as in 12 patients undergoing total intravenous anaesthesia with propofol. Patients of the sevoflurane group showed a significant decline in anandamide levels from induction of anaesthesia to 40 min after induction, whereas anandamide levels in patients of the propofol group remained unchanged. Scientists concluded that these results "may explain side effects of general anesthetics such as psychomimetic [psychic] and antiemetic properties of propofol and the high incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting after volatile anesthetics." (Source: Schelling G, et al. Anesthesiology 2006;104(2):273-277)

Science β€” Pain

New research demonstrated that the synthetic cannabinoid WIN 55,212-2 and the nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) ketorolac exerted additive analgesic effects in a mouse model of inflammatory pain. Scientists concluded that "the combination of cannabinoids and NSAIDs may have utility in the pharmacotherapy of pain." (Source: Ulugol A, et al. Anesth Analg 2006;102(2):443-7)