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IACM-Bulletin of November 22, 2009


IACM — New type of article gives background information on new important research results

A new type of article ("Article of the Month") usually published once a month and selected by the newly formed Editorial Board will become the heart of the IACM online journal Cannabinoids. These articles will briefly report on an important publication in another journal with relevance to the medical use of substances (cannabis, cannabinoids, etc) that influence the endocannabinoid system. Articles of the Month are usually written by a member of the Editorial Board, but may also be composed by invited authors. As the IACM-Bulletin they will be published in five languages.

The first article entitled "THC can improve symptoms of schizophrenia" by Franjo Grotenhermen has been published on 21 November. Members of the Editorial Board are: Arno Hazekamp, Barbara Costa, Beat Lutz, Bela Szabo, Daniela Parolaro, Donald Abrams, Ethan Russo, Franjo Grotenhermen, Javier Fernández-Ruiz, John Zajicek, Kirsten Müller-Vahl, Manuel Guzman , Mark Ware, Mauro Maccarrone, Philip Robson, Raphael Mechoulam, Richard E. Musty, Robert Melamede, Roger Pertwee, Ruth Ross, Vincent Maida, Vincenzo Di Marzo, William Notcutt.


=> English => Journal => CANNABINOIDS

Science — The cannabis extract Sativex may decrease pain of cancer patients

A clinical study with the cannabis extract Sativex in cancer patients, which was already published on the web site of the company GW Pharmaceuticals and in the IACM-Bulletin in 2005 was now published in a scientific journal. In total, 177 patients suffering from pain, which was not sufficiently controlled by opiates, were included into a two-week placebo-controlled trial. They received either Sativex, which contains equal amounts of THC and CBD (n = 60), a cannabis extract rich in THC (n = 58) or a placebo (n = 59). Patients continued to use their other pain medication during the study.

The mean reduction in pain on a numerical scale was significantly superior in the Sativex group compared to the placebo group (-1.37 compared to -0.69). The mean reduction in the THC extract group was not significantly superior to placebo (-1.01 compared to -0.69). Twice as many patients taking Sativex (THC/CBD) showed a pain reduction of more than 30 percent from baseline pain compared with placebo (43 percent versus 21 percent), while it were only 23 percent in the THC group. Researchers concluded that their "study shows that THC:CBD extract is efficacious for relief of pain in patients with advanced cancer pain not fully relieved by strong opioids.

(Source: Johnson JR, Burnell-Nugent M, Lossignol D, Ganae-Motan ED, Potts R, Fallon MT. Multicenter, Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group Study of the Efficacy, Safety, and Tolerability of THC:CBD Extract and THC Extract in Patients With Intractable Cancer-Related Pain. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2009 Nov 4. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

USA — American Medical Association calls for review of the ban to use cannabis for medicinal purposes

The American Medical Association on their meeting on 8-10 November in Houston voted to reverse its long-held position that marijuana be retained as a Schedule I substance with no medical value. Schedule I is the only classification of controlled substances that may not be prescribed by a physician. The Medical Association adopted a report drafted by its Council on Science and Public Health entitled, "Use of Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes," which affirmed the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and called for further research.

This report concluded that, "short term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis." The resolution says that the Medical Association "urges that marijuana's status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines. This should not be viewed as an endorsement of state-based medical cannabis programs, the legalization of marijuana, or that scientific evidence on the therapeutic use of cannabis meets the current standards for a prescription drug product."

Further information:



(Sources: Website of the American Medical Association, Americans for Safe Access, UPI of 10 November 2009)

News in brief

USA — New Mexico

According to an article of the Associated Press there are 755 registered patients who are allowed to use cannabis for medicinal purposes in New Mexico. So far, there are five licensed producers of cannabis, each of whom are allowed to produce up to 95 plants. (Source: Associated Press of 16 November 2009)

Science — THC and CBD

According to research at the King's College London, UK, THC and CBD (cannabidiol) have opposite effects on brain function. Scientists investigated brain function of healthy volunteers who received the cannabinoids with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Pre-treatment with CBD also prevented psychic effects of THC. (Source: Bhattacharyya S, et al. Neuropsychopharmacology 2009 Nov 18. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science — Allergic dermatitis

Animal research of the Endocannabinoid Research Group, Italy, suggests that the endocannabinoid palmitoylethanolamide may be effective against contact allergic dermatitis. (Source: Petrosino S, et al. Allergy 2009 Nov 11. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science — Epilepsy

According to research at the University of Reading, UK, the natural cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol) inhibited epileptic activity in animals. They concluded that this demonstrates "the potential of CBD as a novel anti-epileptic drug." (Source: Jones NA, et al. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2009 Nov 11. [Electronic publication ahead of print])