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IACM-Bulletin of May 27, 2001


IACM — Second Call for Papers, Berlin Meeting 2001

At the upcoming conference on October 25-27, 2001, it is intended to bring together scientists, clinicians, and physicians to share their experience on the therapeutic potential of cannabis and the cannabinoids, and to allow others interested in this topic to get first-hand information.

Among the participants will be: Andreas Heinz, Claude Vaney, Ricardo Navarrete Varo, Ester Fride, Ethan Russo, Franjo Grotenhermen, Gernot Ernst, John Zajicek, Kirsten Mueller-Vahl, Manfred Fankhauser, Markus Leweke, Martin Schnelle, Raphael Mechoulam, Rudolf Brenneisen, Ulrike Hagenbach, William Notcutt, Winfried Meissner, Tod Mikuriya, Bela Szabo, and others.

(More information:

Science — Second issue of the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics

The 1(2) issue of the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics has been released. From the content:

(1) Alakbarov FU. Medicinal properties of cannabis according to medieval manuscripts of Azerbaijan. J Cannabis Ther 2001;1(2):3-14.

"Azerbaijani people have rich and ancient traditions in the medicinal use of cannabis. The traditional methods of its application are described in the medieval Azerbaijani manuscripts in the field of medicine and pharmacognosy written in Old Azerbaijani, Persian, Arabic and date back to the 9-18th centuries AD. (...) various parts (the roots, resign, leaves and seeds) of Cannabis sativa L. were widely used (...)."

(2) Deakle D. Simeon Seth on Cannabis (Cognoscenti of Cannabis II). J Cannabis Ther 2001;1(2):15-20.

"Simeon Seth's Lexicon on the Properties of Foods (Syntagma de alimentorum facultatibus) is perhaps the most important document providing understanding of how dietetics were applied in Byzantine and Arabic culture in the 11th century. (...) A section from his treatise is herein translated (...).

(3) Russo E. Hemp for headache: An in-depth historical and scientific review of cannabis in migraine treatment. J Cannabis Ther 2001;1(2):21-92.

"Cannabis, or 'marijuana,' has been employed in various forms throughout the millennia for both symptomatic and prophylactic treatment of migraine. This document examines its history of medicinal use by smoking and other methods in ancient cultures (...). In modern times ethnobotanical and anecdotal references continue to support the efficacy of cannabis for headache treatment, while biochemical studies of THC and anandamide have provided scientific justification for its use (...).

(4) Webster P. Marijuana and music: A speculative exploration. J Cannabis Ther 2001;1(2):93-105.

"(...) As an example of such unofficial, unpublished, and underground research, the author presents a speculative exploration on the cannabis-produced altered state of consciousness and its relation to the appreciation and production of music. (...)"

(Source: Abstracts of the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics, 1(2), 2001)

USA — Supreme Court ruled against medicinal cannabis clubs

On 14 May the Supreme Court unanimously ruled (by a vote of 8-0) that third parties who grow or distribute marijuana for medical purposes may not raise the defence of medical necessity under federal law. This could mean the end for the cannabis distribution clubs in California.

Writing for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas cited a thirty year old federal law on the medical potential of cannabis and said the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 "reflects a determination that marijuana has no medical benefits worthy of an exception." Much research, however, has been done since 1970 suggesting another conclusion.

The courts decision does not touch the right of individual patients in some states to use cannabis, but it will be more difficult to obtain the drug because the Supreme Court says distribution violates federal law.

(Sources: AP of 15 May 2001, U-WIRE via COMTEX of 15 May 2001)

News in brief

Science — Appetite in cancer patients

THC was only a bit more effective than placebo to regain appetite of cancer patients, the Mayo Clinic said on 12 May. In a double blind study involving 150 patients appetite improved in 73 percent of patients taking a standard medicine for cancer-related appetite loss, megestrol acetate, against 47 percent taking dronabinol (THC). (Source: Reuters of 13 May 2001)

Spain — Another parliament for medical use

Following the Catalonian parliament the regional parliament of the Balears demanded on 22 May to legalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Socialists as well as conservatives supported the motion. (Sources: Diario Médico of 21 May 2001, Personal communication by Ricardo Navarrete Varo of 23 May 2001)

USA — Nevada

The state House of Representatives on 23 May approved a measure that would authorize medical use of marijuana and would lessen the criminal penalty faced by anyone who possesses the drug. The bill was approved 30-12 and goes to the Senate. (Source: AP of 23 May 2001)

Canada — Medical Association Journal

The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) is calling on the government to decriminalize the possession of marijuana for personal use. Editor Dr. John Hoey argues the social and legal consequences of being arrested for marijuana possession far outweighs the minimal health affects of moderate use of the drug. (Source: CMAJ of 15 May 2001;164(10):1397)

France — Clinical research intended

The possible therapeutic use of cannabis shall be examined in several hospitals in Paris Marseille, Toulouse and Lyon, according to a statement by Health Minister Bernard Kouchner of 14 May. The properties to be investigated are its antiemetic and analgesic potential. (Source: AFP of 14 May 2001)

UK — GW Pharmaceuticals

GW Pharmaceuticals is to announce plans for a listing on the London Stock Exchange. 16 million pounds (about 23 million US dollars) of proceeds, and 5.5 million pounds in the bank, would be used to increase the production of cannabis and funding of clinical trials. (Source: Reuters of 15 May 2001)

Science — Pain and hyperalgesia

Research in rat showed that hyperalgesia associated with inflammation of the urinary bladder was attenuated by the endocannabinoids anandamide (via CB1 receptors) and palmitylethanolamide (putatively via CB2 receptors) in a dose-dependent fashion. (Source: Farquhar-Smith WP, Rice AS. Anesthesiology 2001 Mar;94(3):507-513)