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IACM-Bulletin of June 21, 2009


USA โ€” Rhode Island legalizes the sale of cannabis for medicinal purposes

Rhode Island has become the third state of the USA to permit cannabis sales to chronically ill patients with an approval for the medicinal use of the drug. On 16 June lawmakers voted to override a veto from governor Donald L. Carcieri. The new law allows up to three non-profit stores in the state to sell cannabis to patients registered with the state Department of Health.

The drug remains illegal under federal law, but President Barack Obama's administration has said it will not target stores that comply with state law. Rhode Island began allowing chronically ill patients to possess cannabis in 2006 but never created a legal means to buy the drug. California and New Mexico are the other two states that allow the sale of cannabis for medicinal purposes. There are 13 states in the US that allow the medicinal use of cannabis. Carcieri vetoed identical House of Representatives and Senate bills on 12 June saying legalizing the sale of medicinal cannabis would increase use for non-medical purposes and hurt children.

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R.I. legalizes sale of medicinal pot


(Sources: Associated Press of 16 June 2009, UPI of 17 June 2009)

News in brief

USA โ€” Support for legalization

In an interview a lead researcher on the effects of cannabis smoking on the lungs speaks out against criminal sanctions of cannabis users. "Early on, when our research appeared as if there would be a negative impact on lung health, I was opposed to legalization because I thought it would lead to increased use and that would lead to increased health effects," Dr. Donald Tashkin, a professor at the University of California in Los Angeles, says. "But at this point, I'd be in favor of legalization. I wouldn't encourage anybody to smoke any substances. But I don't think it should be stigmatized as an illegal substance. Tobacco smoking causes far more harm. And in terms of an intoxicant, alcohol causes far more harm." (Source: Taiwan News of 24 May 2009)

Science โ€” Aging

In basic research it was demonstrated that cannabinoids attenuate the effects of aging upon inflammation and new formation of nerves. For example, activation of cannabinoid receptors triggered the formation of new nerve cells in the hippocampus (a brain region) in aged rats. (Source: Marchalant Y, et al. Neurobiol Dis 2009 Feb 5. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science โ€” Alzheimer's disease

It was demonstrated in cell experiments that activation of the CB2 receptor in glial cells is capable of inducing the removal of amyloid beta from human tissue. CB2 receptors are almost absent in the brain in normal conditions but are increased in number in glial cells in chronic inflammation, as in Alzheimer's disease. Amyloid beta is the main component of amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease and its removal is currently considered as one of the most promising experimental approaches for the treatment of this disease. (Source: Tolรณn RM, et al. Brain Res 2009 Jun 5. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science โ€” Obesity

According to animal research at the French institute INSERM activation of the CB2 receptor increased inflammation associated with obesity and increased insulin resistance. Authors concluded that "CB2 receptor antagonists may open a new therapeutic approach for the management of obesity-associated metabolic disorders." (Source: Deveaux V, et al. PLoS ONE 2009;4(6):e5844.)

Science โ€” Cancer pain

In an animal model of bone cancer pain activation of CB1 receptors in the spinal cord by cannabinoids reduced pain. (Source: Furuse S, et al. Anesthesiology 2009 Jun 8. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science โ€” Rhabdomyosarcoma

According to basic research at the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain, both the synthetic cannabinoid HU210 and the plant cannabinoid dronabinol (THC) lowered the viability of rhabdomyosarcoma cells. Rhabdomyosarcoma is a cancer, which arises of from skeletal muscle cells. (Source: Oesch S, et al. Mol Cancer Ther 2009 Jun 9. [Electronic publication ahead of print]).

Science โ€” Diabetic neuropathy

Nerve cells that were kept in a solution with high glucose concentrations showed impaired neurite formation. Activation of the CB1 receptor of these nerve cells by a synthetic cannabinoid (HU210) increased neurite length in a concentration-dependent manner. Researchers noted that CB1 receptors keep their neuroprotective function even in an environment with high glucose concentration. (Source: Zhang F, et al. Neuropharmacology 2009 Jun 3. [Electronic publication ahead of print])