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IACM-Bulletin of October 11, 2009


IACM — General Meeting changes name to International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines

At its General Meeting on 2 October the IACM changed its name and the statutes, and elected Ethan Russo from the USA as the new chairman. New members of the IACM Board of Directors are Manuel Guzman from the University of Madrid, Spain, and Arno Hazekamp from the Dutch Association for

Legal Cannabis and its Constituents as Medicine (NCSM). The following Board Members were re-elected: Roger Pertwee (UK), Ethan Russo (USA), Willy Notcutt (UK), Franjo Grotenhermen (Germany), Daniela Parolaro (Italy), Mark Ware (Canada), Kirsten Müller-Vahl (Germany), and Rudolf Brenneisen (Switzerland). Clare Hodges (UK) was re-elected as patient representative of the IACM.

The IACM honoured four persons for special achievements regarding the re-introduction of cannabis and cannabinoids as medicine. The IACM Award 2009 for Clinical Research goes to Mark Ware, the IACM Award 2009 for Basic Research goes to Manuel Guzman, the IACM Award 2009 for Young Researchers goes to Istvan Katona, and the IACM Special Award 2009 goes to Ethan Russo.

The General Meeting noted that the development of medicines that influence the endocannabinoid system comprises an increasing number of substances and the IACM should be attractive to all scientists, physicians and others interested in the medical use of substances that influence the endocannabinoid system. It was decided to choose a new name that reflects this development. The aims of the IACM are now more clearly expressed. The new statutes say: "The aim of the association is to advance knowledge on cannabis, cannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system, and related topics especially with regard to their therapeutic potential. The mission is achieved in particular through the following actions:

- Support for research into cannabis products and the endocannabinoid system;

- Promotion of exchange of information between researchers, health care practitioners, patients and the public;

- Preparation and dissemination of reliable information on the pharmacology, toxicology and therapeutic potential of cannabis and modulators of the endocannabinoid system;

- Monitoring and documentation of national and international developments with respect to cannabinoid therapeutics;

- Co-operation with other organisations and associations sharing the mission and goals of the IACM";

IACM — New results from clinical research at the IACM 2009 Conference

About 90 scientists, doctors, and others participated in the 5th IACM Conference on Cannabinoids in Medicine in Cologne, Germany, on 2-3 October. Here are some results from clinical research presented at the conference.

(1) Dr. John Zajicek from Peninsula College of Medicine in Plymouth, UK, presented data on a placebo-controlled study on a capsulated cannabis extract (Cannador) in 279 patients with multiple sclerosis who suffered from troublesome muscle stiffness. The rate of relief in muscle stiffness after 12 weeks was almost twice as large under cannabis extract compared to placebo (29.4 per cent versus 15.7 per cent). Equivalent results were also found in rates of relief for pain, spasms and sleep.

(2) Dr. Donald Abrams from the University of California in San Francisco, USA, presented data on the additional use of inhaled cannabis in 21 patients on stable doses of long-acting opioids (morphine or oxycodone). Participants were exposed to vaporized cannabis three times daily for three days. Researchers concluded that "co-administration of vaporized cannabis in subjects on stable doses of morphine or oxycodone appears to enhance analgesia." Cannabis also tended towards lowering concentration of the opioids in blood.

(3) Dr. Mark Ware from McGill University of Montreal, Canada, presented results from the COMPASS study, which looked at the safety of cannabis in the treatment of pain. The study investigated side effects of standardized herbal cannabis dispensed to 215 pain patients for one year. Compared to 216 controls who received no cannabis there was no difference in serious adverse effects. The average cannabis dose was 1.86 grams per day. Researchers concluded that "cannabis use for chronic pain over one year is not associated with major changes in lung, endocrine, cognitive function or serious adverse events."

(4) Dr. Vincent Maida from the University of Toronto, Canada, presented data from an observational study on nabilone, a derivative of THC, in the management of advanced cancer patients. Data from 112 patients (47 nabilone, 65 non-nabilone treated) met criteria for analyses. The pain scores and total opioid use in nabilone treated patients were significantly reduced compared with patients who did not receive nabilone. Nausea and overall distress were also reduced by nabilone.

More in the reader of the conference at:

News in brief

USA — Colorado

According to a newspaper report the amount of people registered to legally use cannabis for medicinal purposes in Colorado has nearly tripled in the last year to just above 11,000. That number is expected to grow to 15,000 by year's end. (Source: Aspen Daily News of 8 October 2009)

Science — Diabetic neuropathy

According to clinical research at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, UK, a standardized cannabis extract (Sativex) did not reduce pain in 30 patients with diabetic neuropathy. In this controlled trial participants received daily Sativex or placebo. There were no significant differences in pain relief and other outcome measures. (Source: Selvarajah D, et al. Diabetes Care 2009 Oct 6. [Electronic publication ahead of print]

Science — Neuropathic pain

According to animal research at the University of Naples, Italy, a selective CB2 receptor agonist reduced neuropathic pain after nerve injury. The treatment with the cannabinoid reduced inflammation. (Source: Luongo L, et al. Neurobiol Dis 2009 Oct 2. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science — Detection of cannabis use

According to research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore, USA, THC may be detectable for more than 6 days after last cannabis use in blood of regular users of cannabis. Of 25 participants nine chronic users (36 per cent) had no measurable THC during 7 days of cannabis abstinence; 16 had at least one positive THC of more than 0.25 ng/ml, but not necessarily on the first day. On day 7, 6 full days after controlled cannabis abstinence, six participants still displayed detectable THC concentrations and all 25 had measurable concentrations of THC-COOH. The highest observed THC concentrations at start of the study (day 1) and day 7 were 7.0 and 3.0 ng/ml, respectively. (Source: Karschner EL, et al. Addiction 2009 Oct 5. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science — Cannabis and alcohol use

According to a study at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, USA, with 28 daily cannabis users those with past alcohol abuse or dependence increased their alcohol use during a period of cannabis abstinence. Participants were subjected to a 13-day cannabis abstinence period and those with past problematic alcohol use increased alcohol use by 52 per cent. (Source: Peters EN, et al. Drug Alcohol Depend 2009 Sep 22. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science — Heritability of cannabis use

According to a study at the University of Amsterdam with 3115 twins there was a moderate genetic influence (44 per cent) on initiation of cannabis use. The remaining causes were explained by environmental influences shared by twins (31 per cent) and by environmental factors experienced only by the person investigated (24 per cent). (Source: Vink JM, et al. Addict Behav 2009 Sep 12. [Electronic publication ahead of print])

Science — Anxiety

According to a study at the Schizophrenia Research Institute in Darlinghurst, Australia, chronic but not acute administration of the plant cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) caused anxiolytic and antipsychotic effects in mice. (Source: Long LE, et al. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 2009 Sep 29. [Electronic publication ahead of print])