The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which has the largest paediatric publishing program in the world, recommends decriminalizing cannabis and says it could be good for some children in a new statement. “The AAP opposes ‘medical marijuana’ outside the regulatory process of the US Food and Drug Administration,” says the new statement. However, it recognizes that children with some diseases could benefit from cannabis.
“Notwithstanding this opposition to use, the AAP recognizes that marijuana may currently be an option for cannabinoid administration for children with life-limiting or severely debilitating conditions and for whom current therapies are inadequate,” the statement goes on to say. “The illegality of marijuana has resulted in the incarceration of hundreds of thousands of adolescents, with overrepresentation of minority youth,” the statement says. “A criminal record can have lifelong negative effects on an adolescent who otherwise has had no criminal justice history. These effects can include ineligibility for college loans, housing, financial aid, and certain kinds of jobs.”
The government wants to facilitate patient access to cannabis for therapeutic purposes. “It is my goal that in the future more people than today get cannabis as a medicine,” Marlene Mortler (Christian Democrats, conservative party), the Drug Commissioner of the Federal Government said in an interview. Federal Health Minister Hermann Gröhe (Christian Democrats) announced a law change, which also intends to clarify reimbursement by health insurances. According to Mortler it is intended that health insurances cover the cost for cannabis use in medically justified cases. She plans to introduce a bill into the Bundestag, the German parliament, later this year, so that the law can take effect next year.
Mortler said that it is “not easy” to decide, who really needs cannabis as a medicine. “It is our wish that seriously ill people, who only find relief by the use of medical cannabis, are treated well,” Gröhe said. Apart from the question of reimbursement by health insurances in medically necessary cases it needs to be clarified, “how abuse can be prevented in an effective manner.” Representatives of all political parties in the Bundestag, patient advocates as well as the chairman of the German Medical Association, Dr Frank Ulrich Montgomery, among others welcomed the move. However, the detailed plans of the federal government are not known yet. “Unfortunately, we expect that based on the available information the Federal Government will not do one more single step to improve the situation of patients than it is forced by current lawsuits. It obviously wants to prevent the implementation of a court ruling expected in 2016, which probably will allow self-cultivation of cannabis by patients, if the laws remain as they currently are,” Dr Franjo Grotenhermen, chairman of the German ACM (Association for Cannabis as Medicine), said in a first analysis.
Science/Human: Daily cannabis use by adolescents and adults is not associated with reduced brain mass
Daily cannabis use is not associated with brain shrinkage when controlling for the effects of alcohol consumption on those who both drink and smoke cannabis, a new study led by neuroscientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Dr Kent Hutchison, the senior author of the study, said his team reviewed a number of scientific papers that showed cannabis causes different parts of the brain to shrink, and his team found the studies were not consistent.
“So far, there’s not a lot of evidence to suggest that you have these gross volume changes” in the brain, Hutchison said in an interview with Reuters. In particular, his study examined a publication released last year by researchers at Northwestern University that identified changes to the nucleus accumbens and the nucleus amygdala, regions of the brain that are key to regulating emotion and motivation, in cannabis users who smoke one to seven cannabis cigarettes a week. Hutchison’s team tried to replicate those results by recruiting dozens of adults and adolescents and conducting brain imaging on them, and comparing daily cannabis users to non-users. But he said they took a different approach to rule out the effects of alcohol. “We found no evidence of differences in volumes of the accumbens, amygdala, hippocampus or cerebellum between daily versus non-users, in adults or adolescents,” Hutchison’s paper said.
News in Brief
Science/Human: Cannabis use was associated with a decreased risk of bladder cancer
In a study with 84,170 men aged 45-69 years the use of cannabis was associated with a 45% reduction in bladder cancer incidence, while tobacco use was associated with a 52% increase of cancer risk. Authors concluded that “cannabis use may be inversely associated with bladder cancer risk in this population.”
USA: Top U.S. doctor says cannabis may be helpful in some medical conditions
The United States’ top doctor said that cannabis can help some patients. “We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, marijuana can be helpful,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said in an interview. The Surgeon General of the USA is the head of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, such as the U.S. Army or the U.S. Air Force, and thus the leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the federal government.
USA: Conference by the American Council for Medicinally Active Plants
The American Council for Medicinally Active Plants (ACMAP) is inviting IACM members to submit abstracts for the upcoming conference in June 2015 in Spokane, Washington. The abstract submission deadline for a contributed talk or poster presentation is 15 March 2015.
Czech Republic: Conference on medical cannabis
There will be a conference on “Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids” on 4-7 March 2015 in Prague. It is intended to found an association dedicated to the medical use of cannabis during the conference
Science/Cells: Endocannabinoids kill prostate cancer cells
The endocannabinoids 2-AG (2-arachidonoyl glycerol) and a synthetic analogue of anandamide, methanandamide, induced programmed cell death in prostate cancer cells.
Science/Human: Cannabis use may have negative effects on the course of psychosis
In a three year study with 678 patients suffering from psychosis cannabis use had a long-lasting negative effect on illness outcome, particularly when persistent.
Science/Human: Cannabis use is associated with higher mood level and lower global functioning in bipolar disorder
In a one-year study cannabis use was associated with elevated mood and lower global functioning in 62 patients with bipolar disorder.
Science/USA: Significant decrease in the perceived risk by cannabis use
Between 2002 and 2012, there was a significant decrease in the perceived risk associated with occasional and regular cannabis use in the USA. Younger age, male gender, and past month use were highly associated with decreased perceived risk.
Science/Human: Dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system in patients with anorexia nervosa
In a study with 14 patients with anorexia nervosa reaction to food intake on the level of some endocannabinoids differed from the reaction in healthy subjects.
Science/Cells: Blockade of the CB2 receptor decreased proliferation of plasma cell cancer
A synthetic inverse agonist (phenylacetylamide) of the CB2 receptor inhibited the proliferation of human multiple myeloma cells mediated by induction of programmed cell death (apoptosis). Multiple myeloma, is a cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cells.
Science/Animal: CBD reduced inflammation in an animal model of multiple sclerosis
Treatment with either CBD (cannabidiol) or PEA (palmitoylethanolamide) in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis reduced the severity of the disease, accompanied by diminished inflammation. However, the combination of CBD and PEA was less effective than either drug alone.
Science/Human: Palmitoylethanolamide increases the blood level of 2-AG
PEA (palmitoylethanolamide) significantly elevated the blood levels of the endocannabinoid 2-AG in humans and dogs. 2-AG exerts its effects by activation of cannabinoid receptors and TRPV1 channels (vanilloid receptors). Authors concluded that “these observations may explain why several effects of PEA can be attenuated by cannabinoid receptor or TRPV1 channel antagonists.”
Science/Animal: A synthetic cannabinoid increases the anti-convulsant effects of anti-epileptic drugs
In a mouse model of epilepsy the synthetic cannabinoid WIN 55,212-2, which behaves similar to THC at cannabinoid receptors, increased the anti-convulsant activity of anti-epileptic drugs, such as gabapentin and levetiracetam.
Soon available in Dutch