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IACM-Bulletin of January 30, 2022


Science — Basic research on cannabinoids in COVID 19 should be interpreted with caution

Basic research suggests that some non-psychoactive cannabinoids may be helpful for the prevention and treatment of infection with the new coronavirus. In recent years several research reports have been presented also in the IACM-Bulletin, the latest in the first bulletin of January 2022.

However, many other potential COVID treatments that showed promise in preliminary basic research, from hydroxychloroquine to various drugs used to treat cancer and other diseases, ultimately failed to show benefit for COVID-19 patients once studied in clinical trials. Thus, results from basic research should not be overstated and interpreted with caution.

Reuters of 25 January 2022

Science/Human — Topical treatment with cannabis eye drops may be effective in blepharospasm

A placebo-controlled study with 6 participants by researchers at the Goldschleger Eye Institute of Sheba Medical Center in Tel-Hashomer, Israel, shows, that cannabis-infused eye drops may reduce symptoms of blepharospasm. The disease is characterised by abnormal contractions of the muscles, which close the eyelids. The 3 patients in the treatment group used cannabis drops and the other 3 participants received a placebo during the first 6 weeks of the study, and both groups were treated with the cannabis drops during the second 6 weeks.

The mean duration of spasm attacks during the first 6 weeks was 4.29 min in the treatment group and 73.9 min in the placebo group. There were 61 spasm events in the treatment group and 94 spasm events in the placebo group. The mean duration of spasm attack was 1.77 and 8.96 min, respectively. Authors concluded that “cannabis can be an effective and safe treatment for BEB as a second line after BTX-A injections when used for 3 months. No significant ocular or systemic side effects were associated with the treatment. “

Zloto O, Weisman A, Avisar I, Serlin T, Bar-Lev L, Priel A, Landau Prat D, Granot N, Weisman I, Ben Simon G. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2022 Jan 24. [in press]

Science/Human — Cannabis smoking has different effects on lung function than tobacco

In a study with 881 participants cannabis use with associated with different effects on lung function than tobacco use. Cannabis and tobacco use were reported at ages 18, 21, 26, 32, 38, and 45 years in a population-based cohort study. The study was conducted by investigators of the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Cumulative cannabis use was associated with lower Forced Expiratory Volume in one second to Forced Vital Capacity ratios, due to a tendency towards higher Forced Vital Capacities. Cannabis use was also associated with a higher residual volume of air in the lungs after exhalation, and a lower transfer of oxygen. Authors concluded that “cannabis use is associated with higher lung volumes suggesting hyperinflation. (…) This pattern of effects is different to those of tobacco. We provide the first evidence that lifetime cannabis use may be associated with impairment of gas transfer.”

Hancox RJ, Gray AR, Zhang X, Poulton R, Moffitt TE, Caspi A, Sears MR. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2022 Jan 24. [in press]

News in brief

Thailand — Moves towards the decriminalisation of cannabis

Thailand became the first country in Asia to approve the de facto decriminalization of cannabis, though authorities have left a grey area around its recreational use. Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced that the Narcotics Control Board had approved the dropping of cannabis from the ministry’s list of controlled drugs. The delisting by the ministry’s Food and Drug Administration will now need to be formally signed by the health minister and enters into effect 120 days after its publication in the government gazette.

AP News of 26 January 2022

France — High Court rejects ban to the use of CBD flowers by the government

On 24 January France’s highest court ‘temporarily suspended’ a decree by the government that bans the sale of CBD flowers, with a statement saying: “The judge in chambers of the Council of State considers that there is a serious doubt about the legality of this general and absolute prohibition measure because of its disproportionate nature.” of 25 January 2022

Costa Rica — President vetoes medical use of cannabis

Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado vetoed the legalization of medicinal cannabis, citing health and security grounds, and sought changes to a bill backed by Congress last year before he will approve it. Costa Rica's Congress had approved the production and processing of cannabis for medicinal purposes in October.

Reuters of 27 January 2022

Europe — No effect of cannabis legalisation on the use by youth

Analysing data from Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom, for 1994-2017 researchers from Sweden concluded that their “findings do not support any considerable impact of cannabis legislation on the prevalence of recreational cannabis use among youth and young adults in Europe.”

Department of Global Public Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

Gabri AC, et al. J PLoS One. 2022 Jan 12;17(1):e0261885.

Science/Human — Cannabis may reduce opioid dose in chronic pain patients

Confirming previous research, a study with 115 pain patients shows that the medical use of cannabis may reduce daily opioid doses by 67%.

Allegheny Health Network/West Penn Hospital, Institute for Pain Medicine, Pittsburgh, USA.

Benedict G, et al. J Pain Physician. 2022 Jan;25(1):E113-E119.

Science/Human — A single low dose of THC and CBD did not reduce leukaemia cells

This phase II clinical trial investigated a one-time low oromucosal dose of THC and CBD in 23 patients with leukemic B cell lymphomas. There was only a transient reduction in malignant cells.

Department of Medicine at Huddinge, Division of Hematology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Melén CM, et al. Leuk Lymphoma. 2022 Jan 17:1-11.

Science/Human — Cannabis users present with similar health than non-users

In a study with 7405 Brazilian adults, of whom 89% used cannabis did not confirm the assumption, that cannabis use is associated with poorer health. Authors concluded that the “fact that cannabis use is generally associated with increased risk of adverse health outcomes was not observed in this study.”

Department of Psychiatry, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brazil.

Morais PR, et al. J Psychiatr Res. 2022 Feb;146:11-20.

Science/Cells — Immunosuppressive effects of CBD

Using a cannabis extract with high (14%) CBD and low (0.2%) THC concentration in comparison with pure CBD on primary human lymphocytes CBD showed immunosuppressive effects, including inhibition of interleukin-2 and interferon-gamma production. This effect seemed to be mediated by the CB2 receptor and the TRPV1 receptor.

Center for Complementary Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, Germany.

Devi S, et al. Int Immunopharmacol. 2022 Feb;103:108448.

Science/Human — Patients in the UK Medical Cannabis Registry profit from a treatment with cannabis

In an analysis of 312 patients from the UK Medical Cannabis Registry “positive changes following treatment were observed in general, as well as anxiety and sleep-specific” symptoms. Quality of life improved.

Imperial College Medical Cannabis Research Group, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, UK.

Ergisi M, et al. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2022 Jan 24. [in press]

Science/Cells — Two peptides of hemp seed show anti-inflammatory potential

Two peptides, which may be produced by degradation of hempseed protein in the stomach exert and antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in human cells. They reduced the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including TNF-alpha and interleukin-6.

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Milan, Italy.

Cruz-Chamorro I, et al. J Agric Food Chem. 2022 Jan 19;70(2):577-583.

Science/Human — No effect of CBD on anxiety in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder

In a placebo-controlled study with 33 participants suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder 16 patients received 300 mg of CBD and 17 a placebo. There were “no significant differences between the effects of CBD and placebo on anxiety, alertness, and discomfort induced by the recall of the traumatic event during the pharmacological intervention and in the subsequent week, in the absence of it.”

Department of Neuroscience and Behavioral Sciences, Ribeirão Preto School of Medicine, University of São Paulo, Brazil.

Bolsoni LM, et al. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2022 Jan 14. [in press]

Science/Human — CBD may offer benefits for patients with epilepsy

In a retrospective analysis of data from 100 patients, who were treated with a CBD extract for at least one year there was no difference to epilepsy patients without CBD in either seizure -related emergency department or hospital admissions. However, those with seizure -related hospital admissions prior to CBD treatment had significantly less seizure -related hospital admissions after initiation of CBD.

University of Florida College of Pharmacy, Gainesville, Florida, USA.

Abu-Sawwa R, et al. Epilepsy Behav. 2022 Jan 17;127:108538.