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IACM-Bulletin of June 10, 2001


USA β€” Robert Randall died

Robert Randall, who made history in 1976 when he persuaded a federal court in Washington to give him access to government supplies of marijuana has died at 53. He died on 2 June at his home in Sarasota, Florida, of AIDS-related complications.

Randall developed glaucoma in his teens. An ophthalmologist told him in the early 1970s that he would go blind within a few years. But he never lost his sight. He grew his own cannabis until he was arrested and prosecuted. He then underwent exhaustive tests that indicated no other glaucoma drug available lowered his intraocular pressure and halted deterioration of his eyesight. He used that argument in demanding legal access to marijuana.

In November, 1976, Randall became the first person in modern US history to obtain legal, medical access to marijuana. In 1978 the federal government established a special program ("Compassionate IND"), under which he and some other patients were able to gain access to a non-approved drug.

In 1981, Randall and his wife Alice O'Leary founded the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics (ACT), an organization to reform laws prohibiting medicinal use of marijuana. By the early 1990s, Randall was concentrating on the therapeutic effects of marijuana on AIDS sufferers and helped AIDS patients to gain access to cannabis under the Compassionate IND program. Hundreds of AIDS patients applied under the program, but the federal government abruptly shut it down. Only Randall and seven other early patients continued to be able to receive legal medical marijuana from the government.

(Sources: Associated Press of 5 June 2001,

USA β€” Registration for medical use of cannabis

Nevada: State lawmakers voted on 4 June to legalize marijuana for medical purposes and relax penalties for possession of the drug. The bill would allow seriously ill Nevadans to have up to seven cannabis plants for personal use, and it would allow the creation of a state registry for patients whose doctors recommend they use marijuana for medical reasons. Nevadans voted overwhelmingly in 1998 and 2000 to allow the medical use of marijuana.

Colorado: On 1 June the first two Coloradans got their medical-marijuana cards. It was the first day of a program for the medical use of cannabis. At least 600 applications are expected in the first year based on what happened with Oregon's medical-marijuana program. The law went into effect not without a warning from Governor Bill Owens and Attorney General Ken Salazar to the state's doctors that they may face federal prosecution if they recommend the treatment.

California: Conservative and liberal senators joined on 6 June to pass a state-wide medical marijuana registry. The measure is intended to defend California's medical marijuana law against last month's U.S. Supreme Court decision that the state law (Proposition 215) cannot supersede federal laws against marijuana distribution. The measure passed the Senate 23-8.

(Sources: UPI of 1 June 2001, Denver Rocky Mountain News of 2 June 2001, Associated Press of 4 June 2001, Sacramento Bee of 6 June 2001)

News in brief

Science β€” Opioid-induced emesis

Opiates often cause nausea and vomiting. Cannabinoids were able to reduce opioid-induced vomiting in an animal study with ferrets. A CB1 receptor antagonist but not a CB2 receptor antagonist blocked this antiemetic action, suggesting that antiemetic effects of cannabinoids appear to be mediated by the central nervous system. (Source: Simoneau II, et al. Anesthesiology 2001 May;94(5):882-887)

Spain β€” Aragon

Following the parliaments of Catalonia and the Balears the regional parliament of Aragon on 30 May unanimously voted to urge the central government in Madrid to legalizes the therapeutic use of cannabis. (Source: Diario MΓ©dico of 31 May 2001)

Belgium β€” Clinical trials allowed

The government approved a royal decision allowing the medical use of cannabis within clinical trials. The king is expected to sign the decision in June. Cannabis has to be prescribed by a doctor of a university hospital, a centre for pain therapy, or a hospital with an approval to treat side effects of chemotherapy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, AIDS or chronic pain. (Sources: Press release of the Belgium government of 1 June 2001, Gazet van Antwerpen of 2 June 2001)

Science β€” CT-3

The synergistic effects of opioids and cannabinoids, specifically CT-3, a synthetic derivative of THC, in pain therapy will be investigated at the University of Sydney under the guidance of Dr. Christopher W. Vaughan. If successful, this research will provide a rational basis for analgesic synergies between CT-3, opioids and Nonsteroidal Antinflammatory Drugs. (Source: Business Wire of 29 May 2001)

Israel β€” Dexanabinol

Pharmos Corporation has been awarded a grant of up to 1.7 million US dollars by the Israelian government to support the development of dexanabinol for traumatic brain injury. Dexanabinol is a synthetic non-psychotropic THC-derivative with neuroprotective properties (Source: PR Newswire of 29 May 2001)

Canada β€” Support from conservatives

Moves to decriminalize the use of cannabis get support from several conservatives. Joe Clark, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, says softer penalties for marijuana possession are warranted. Keith Martin of the Canadian Alliance says: "Serious criminals, rapists, pedophiles and murderers aren't getting prosecuted because our courts are tied up with kids who have been caught with a joint in their pocket. It's a losing battle and a waste of taxpayers' money." (Source: Wall Street Journal of 5 June 2001)