Germany: Experts unanimously acknowledge the medical value of dronabinol and cannabis

 Germany  -  Experts unanimously acknowledge the medical value of dronabinol and cannabis. At a 15. October 2008 public hearing of the Health Committee of the German Parliament all participating experts agreed on the proven medical value of dronabinol (THC) and cannabis for a range of illnesses. All medical and legal experts further declared that the current situation was unsatisfactory for patients.

Only the representative of the health insurance industry insisted that the medical benefits of a dronabinol therapy remained to be proven and thus health insurance should not be obligated to pay for such treatment. The public hearing was held in response to similar requests by the parliamentary groups of the Green Party and the "Left", both of whom demanded regulations that would prompt health insurance agencies to pay for treatment with THC more often and terminate criminalization of people who need cannabis for medical reasons but cannot afford to pay for dronabinol. 


Germany: Experts unanimously acknowledge the medical value of dronabinol and cannabis.

While the German Society of Pain Therapists and the German Society for Addiction Medicine supported these requests, other institutions (German MS Society, German Association of Physicians) opposed the permission of doctor-assisted self-medication with uncertified cannabis medicines. Yet, they did support the therapeutic use of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis products. Representatives of the Association of Cannabis for Medicine (ACM) pointed out that the current system represents a two-class medicine in which the well off can afford to buy dronabinol in pharmacies whereas most patients are forced into illegality if they want to benefit from cannabis products. The current criminalization of patients who engage in self-medication was not justifiable unless true alternatives were provided. Extensive information on the website of the German Bundestag.

UK  -  On 13 October the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has confirmed that repeat cannabis offenders will face tougher penalties from 26 January 2009 on. She said, that those caught with cannabis on a first occasion could still get a cannabis warning, but on a second occasion are likely face a fine of 80 British Pounds and arrest if caught for a third time.

Canada  -  Police took down a record number of marijuana grow operations in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, dismantling a total of 20 and seizing more than 12,700 plants in the past six months. The organized sweep by the Ridge Meadows RCMP's marijuana enforcement team, comprised of three officers, has seen 23 people arrested since April and charges approved against 20 of them.

"Based on numbers ...  this initiative is successful," said Cpl.  Ryan Schlecker.  "There are numerous active investigations which should result in further grow operations being dismantled this year." Between April 1 and October 21 last year, there were just 12 grow operations dismantled, garnering 15 arrests and eight charges. Schlecker said the detachment has received numerous tips about growops from the public.  It was those tips that sparked most of the investigations. Schlecker said since the marijuana team was created, its officers have been able to dedicate their expertise and resources to these investigations, ensuring that every single tip has been addressed. 


Supreme Court confirms: Police need search warrant for marijuana inspections

Canada  -  A  B.C.  Supreme Court judge has upheld a provincial law that allows municipal inspection teams to investigate homes suspected of being marijuana-growing operations, but ruled that police cannot enter a residence without a warrant in a case involving a Hells Angels associate in Surrey.

In a decision released Friday, Justice William Smart ruled that the Safety Standards Act, which authorizes electrical safety inspection of residences, does not violate Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects the public from unreasonable search and seizure. 


Cannabis Tribunal to be held in The Hague

The Netherlands  -  On Monday and Tuesday, December 1st and 2nd, 2008, the Cannabis tribunal will be held in Nieuwspoort, The Hague. The central issue at this tribunal is the road that Dutch cannabis policy should take after more than 30 years of "gedogen" (tolerant policies). Those in favour and those against are all wellcome at this event, that is organised by the Stichting Drugsbeleid , the Cannabis College  and ENCOD.

The cannabis tribunal consists of six hearings and a debate with politicians. The hearings will be introduced by one reality expert and two witnesses who represent each another view on the issue. Thus, subjects like the future of the coffeeshops, the medicinal use of cannabis and the moral basis of cannabis prohibition will be discussed.

Starting point of the tribunal is the statement that cannabis prohibition has more negative than positive effects. At the end of each hearing, together with the audience a conclusion is formulated. At the end of the first day (Monday December 1st) a debate will take place in which the spokespersons on drug policy of all political groups from the parliament and the responsible ministers will be invited to defend current policy. These are minister Ter Horst of Internal Affairs, Hirsch Ballin of Justice and Klink of Public Health. All ENCOD members are welcome but please note that the working language of the tribunal is Dutch.

USA  -   Despite investing one billion US-Dollars (about 780 million Euros) in a massive anti-drug campaign, a controversial new study suggests that it has failed to have a positive effect on drug use by youths.

A congressionally mandated study released on 15 October concluded that the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign launched in the late 1990s to encourage young people to stay away from drugs "is unlikely to have had favorable effects on youths." In fact, the study's authors assert that anti-drug ads may have unwittingly delivered the message that other kids were taking drugs. "Those who came to believe that their peers were using marijuana were more likely to initiate use themselves," the authors say.

Science  -  According to research by scientists of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, and Northeastern University in Boston, USA, cannabinoids that activate cannabinoid receptors are able to inhibit the transmigration of certain immune cells (monocytes) across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). They also decreased the permeability of endothel cells of small blood vessels
(microvascular endothelial cells, HBMEC).

Authors noted that for the first time it was demonstrated "that cannabinoid agonists are able to restore the integrity of HBMEC and the BBB following insults by HIV-1 Gp120. These studies may lead to better strategies for treatment modalities targeted to the BBB following HIV-1 infection of the brain based on cannabinoid pharmacotherapies.

" It is known that HIV-1 infection has significant effect on the immune system as well as on the nervous system. Breakdown of the blood-brain barrier is frequently observed in patients with HIV-associated dementia. Cellular products and viral proteins secreted by HIV-1 infected cells, such as the HIV-1 Gp120, play important roles in blood-brain barrier impairment and HIV-associated dementia development. Microvascular endothelial cells are a major component of the blood-brain barrier. The researchers used microvascular endothelial cells and certain nerve cells (human astrocytes) as a model system for human blood-brain barrier. 

The Greenish Warbler

October 27th 2008

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