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IACM-Bulletin of January 4, 2009


Science — Cannabis use not associated with increased risk for Kaposi's sarcoma in people with HIV

According to an analysis of data from the US Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) between 1984 and 2002 the use of cannabis was not associated with an increased risk for the development of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS). Among the 1335 white men with HIV, who were also infected with Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus (HHV-8), 401 KS cases were identified. The effects of several drugs were examined. There was no association between the development of Kaposi's sarcoma and cannabis use. Researches concluded that "these findings do not support a biological association between use of these substances and KS development in HIV- and HHV-8-coinfected homosexual men."

In 2007 experimental research with cells had found that the presence of THC in low concentrations, which are found in medical users of THC and cannabis, increased the infection with Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus in endothelial cells. THC, in a dose-dependent manner, also promoted other steps that lead to the development of Kaposi's sarcoma, a type of cancer mainly found in AIDS patients. Scientists called for epidemiological research to clarify the safety of the medical use of THC in these patients.

(Source: Chao C, Jacobson LP, Jenkins FJ, Tashkin D, Martínez-Maza O, Roth MD, Ng L, Margolick JB, Chmiel JS, Zhang ZF, Detels R. Recreational Drug Use and Risk of Kaposi's Sarcoma in HIV- and HHV-8-Coinfected Homosexual Men. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2008 Dec 24. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Holland — Appeal Court rules that possession of five plants should not be prosecuted

People with five cannabis plants in their home will not be prosecuted, no matter how much cannabis the plants produce, the appeal court in Den Bosch has ruled. The police have for years maintained a policy of not considering five plants at home an offence, because they can be seen as ornamental plants or for personal use of cannabis and not for commercial cultivation. The Public Prosecutor's Office (OM) did not consider those criteria relevant in this case because 6,712 grams of cannabis was found in the home of the suspects, a couple from Uden.

The policy of toleration, created by jurisprudence and OM directives, also specifies that someone may not have more than 30 grams of cannabis at home, as well as the five-plant limit. According to the appeal court, however, it says nowhere that there is a limit to the size of the harvest of the five tolerated cannabis plants. A citizen can therefore rely on the possession of five plants not leading to prosecution. A lower court already had ruled accordingly earlier. The OM appealed against the decision and again demanded a fine, of 350 euros (about 490 US dollars), but primarily wanted clarification of how the policy of tolerance should be interpreted in future cases. The OM is now considering fighting the appeal court ruling at the Supreme Court.

Article at:

(Source: NIS News Bulletin of 20 December 2008)

News in brief

USA — Cannabis seeds

The New York Times conducted an interview with Dr. Mahmoud A. ElSohly, a professor at the National Center for Natural Products Research of the University of Mississippi, which is growing a cannabis for research purposes for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In the interview he was asked where the centre gets its seeds. He answered: "Most of the illicit material in the 1960s came from Mexico. So, in collaboration with the D.E.A. and the Mexican government, we acquired those seeds. Later, we acquired others from Colombia, Thailand, Jamaica, India, Pakistan and places in the Middle East. That permitted us to study chemical and botanical differences. By 1976, we were growing about 96 different varieties." The whole interview is available at: (Source: New York Times of 23 December 2008)

Science — Liver damage

Israelian scientists investigated the effects of several cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptor antagonists on liver damage in mice induced by a chemical (thioacetamide). The endocannabinoid 2-AG, a synthetic CB2 receptor agonist and a CB1 receptor antagonist improved liver function compared to control animals. The researches assume that these therapeutic effects were mediated either by CB2 receptors and/or vanilloid receptors. (Source: Avraham Y, et al. Am J Gastroenterol 2008;103(12):3047-56.)