LONDON – In what could come as a rude shock to many alcoholics and smokers, the British government’s drug adviser has said that drugs like Ecstasy, LSD and cannabis are less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes.
Criticising former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s decision to rate cannabis as a Class B drug, David Nutt, the chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, accused him of “distorting and devaluing” scientific research.
ProfNutt pointed out that smoking cannabis carried a “relatively small risk” of psychotic illness, and called for the use of a “harm” index to rate all drugs including alcohol and tobacco.
According to him, alcohol was fifth behind cocaine, heroin, barbiturates and methadone in causing harm, while tobacco was ninth, ahead of cannabis, LSD and Ecstasy.
He blasts the “artificial” separation of alcohol and tobacco from the illegal drugs.
“No one is suggesting that drugs are not harmful. The critical question is one of scale and degree,” the Times Online quoted him, as saying.
“We need a full and open discussion of the evidence and a mature debate about what the drug laws are for – and whether they are doing their job,” he said.
Prof Nutt added: “I think we have to accept young people like to experiment – with drugs and other potentially harmful activities – and what we should be doing in all of this is to protect them from harm at this stage of their lives.
“We therefore have to provide more accurate and credible information. If you think that scaring kids will stop them using, you are probably wrong.”
However, JamesBrokenshire, the Conservative home affairs spokesman, disagreed with ProfNutt.
He said: “Giving simple labels of levels of harm risk gives a false impression of the dangers, Drugs like GBL [a ‘party’ drug] can be lethal if taken in combination with alcohol. “Rather than providing clearer evidence on the harms linked to illicit drugs, ProfessorNutt is making an overtly political pitch and that isn’t helpful.”
CHICAGO – Sleep apnea is a medical disorder characterized by frequent interruptions in breathing of up to ten seconds or more during sleep. The condition is associated with numerous physiological disorders, including fatigue, headaches, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, heart attack and stroke. Though sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed, it is estimated that approximately four percent of men and two percent of women ages 30 to 60 years old suffer from the disease.
One preclinical study is cited in the scientific literature investigating the role of cannabinoids on sleep-related apnea. Researchers at the University of Illinois (at Chicago) Department of Medicine reported “potent suppression” of sleep-related apnea in rats administered either exogenous or endogenous cannabinoids. Investigators reported that doses of delta-9-THC and the endocannabinoid oleamide each stabilized respiration during sleep, and blocked serotonin-induced exacerbation of sleep apnea in a statistically significant manner. No follow up investigations have taken place assessing the use of cannabinoids to treat this indication.
However, several recent preclinical and clinical trials have reported on the use of THC, natural cannabis extracts, and endocannabinoids to induce sleep and/or improve sleep quality.
The first solid evidence of the Hebrew use of cannabis was established in 1936 by SulaBenet, a little known Polish etymologist from the Institute of Anthropological Sciences in Warsaw.’
The word cannabis was generally thought to be of Scythian origin, but Benet showed that it has a much earlier origin in Semitic languages like Hebrew, and that it appears
several times throughout the Old Testament. Benet explained that “in the original
Hebrew text of the Old Testament there are references to hemp, both as incense,
which was an integral part of religious celebration, and as an intoxicant.“
The first instance of KanehBosum in the Bible is,
“then the Lord said to Moses, “take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much of fragrant cinnamon,250 shekels of kannabosm, 500 shekels of cassia – all according to the sanctuary shekel – and a hind of olive oil. make these into make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. it will be the sacred anointing oil.”– Exodus 30:22-33
It goes on to suggest it be burned…
“then use it to anoint the tent of the meeting, the ark of the testimony, the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. you shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy.”
The next direct reference to kaneh-bosm appears in Isaiah, where God is reprimandingthe Israelites for, among other things, not supplying him with his due of Cannabis.
“you have not brought any kaneh for me, or lavished on me the fat of your sacrifices. but you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offences” . – Isaiah 43:23-24
The next Biblical account of cannabis comes under the name kaneh and appears inrelation to King Solomon. In Solomon‘s Song of Songs, one of the most beautifully written pieces in the Old Testament, Solomon mentions kaneh in describing his bride.
“Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon.
descend from the crest of Amana, from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon. . .
how delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! how much more pleasing
is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your ointment than any spice!. . .
the fragrance of your garments is like that of Lebanon. . .your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, with henna and nard, nard and saffron, kaneh and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree.”Song of Songs 4:8-14
BERLIN – Researchers at the Clinic for Skin Diseases at the University of Muenster, Germany, investigated the efficacy of an external treatment of chronic pain caused by herpes zoster with a cannabinoid that activates cannabinoid receptors. In an open-label trial, 8 patients with facial neuralgia in herpes zoster received a cream containing the endocannabinoid palmitoylethanolamine. The course of symptoms was scored with a visual analogue scale.
Five of 8 patients (62.5 per cent) experienced a mean pain reduction of 88 per cent. The therapy was well tolerated by all patients. No unpleasant sensations or adverse events occurred. The authors concluded that “topical cannabinoid receptor agonists are an effective and well-tolerated adjuvant therapy option in postherpetic neuralgia.” This cream is already on the market in Germany under the trade name “PhysiogelA.I.Crème” used to treat pruritus.
(Source: PhanNQ, SiepmannD, Gralow I, Ständer S. Adjuvant topical therapy with a cannabinoid receptor agonist in facial postherpetic neuralgia. J Dtsch DermatolGes. 2009 Sep 10. [Electronic publication ahead of print])
USA- 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)
Science: Diabetic neuropathy
UNITED KINGDOM – 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: SelvarajahD, et al. Diabetes Care. [Electronic publication ahead of print]
Science: Neuropathic pain
ITALY – 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: LuongoL, et al. Neurobiol Dis. [Electronic publication ahead of print])
Science: Detection of cannabis use
USA – 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 . [Electronic publication ahead of print])
Science: Cannabis and alcohol use
USA – 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. [Electronic publication ahead of print])
Science: Heritability of cannabis use
HOLLAND – 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: VinkJM, et al. Addict Behav. [Electronic publication ahead of print])
AUSTRALIA – 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. [Electronic publication ahead of print])