Study: Long-Term Cannabis Use Not Associated With Changes In Brain Morphology

AUSTRALIA: The use of cannabis, even long-term, is not associated with changes in the cortical surface of the brain, according to data published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology.

A team of investigators from Australia and the Netherlands assessed the relationship between cannabis use and brain morphology in a cohort of 261 subjects (141 cannabis users and 120 controls). Researchers reported “no significant effects on cortical surface morphology” that could be attributable to subjects’ cannabis use, dependence, or age of initiation.

Authors concluded, “Our lack of finding in a well-powered study suggests that cortical surface morphology may be less associated with cannabis use than previously assumed.”

The findings are consistent with other recent brain imaging studies – such as those herehere, and here – and are largely inconsistent with those of a well-publicized 2014 study purporting that even causal cannabis exposure was linked to changes in the brain in young people.

For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the study, “Cortical surface morphology in long-term cannabis users: A multi-site MRI study,” appears in European Neuropsychopharmacology. Further information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Exposure and Cognitive Performance.”

Review: Adjunctive Use Of Cannabinoids Efficacious In Patients With Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy

AUSTRALIA: The adjunctive use of cannabinoids, particularly CBD (cannabidiol), typically reduces seizure frequency and improves the quality of life in patients with intractable forms of epilepsy, according to a review of clinical data published in the Journal ofNeurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

Australian researchers reviewed data from six randomized, placebo-controlled studies, involving 555 patients, and from another 30 observational trials, involving an additional 2,865 patients. In the randomized trials, CBD administration was more effective than placebo in achieving complete seizure remission and in improving patients’ quality of life. In the observational trials, nearly half of patients achieved a greater than 50 percent reduction in seizure frequency.

Authors concluded: “We synthesized available evidence on the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids as an adjunctive treatment to conventional AEDs (anti-epileptic drugs) in treating drug-resistant epilepsy. In many cases, there was qualitative evidence that cannabinoids reduced seizure frequency in some patients, improved other aspects of the patients’ quality of life and were generally well tolerated with mild-to-moderate AEs (adverse events).

Earlier this year, FDA regulators announced that they will undertake a ‘priority review’ of randomized clinical trial data specific to the safety and efficacy of Epidiolex – a standardized, plant-derived CBD extract formulated by a British pharmaceutical company – for the treatment of pediatric epilepsy. The review is scheduled to be completed by June 27, 2018.

For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the study, “Evidence for cannabis and cannabinoids for epilepsy: A systematic review of controlled and observational evidence,” appears in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

The DEA Has Failed To Eradicate Marijuana. Some Members Of Congress Want It To Stop Trying.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The Drug Enforcement Administration is not having a great year.

The chief of the agency stepped down in April under a cloud of scandal. The acting administrator since then has courted ridicule for saying pot is “probably not” as dangerous as heroin, and more recently he provoked 100,000 petition-signers and seven members of Congress to call for his head after he called medical marijuana “a joke.”

This fall, the administration earned a scathing rebuke from a federal judge over its creative interpretation of a law intended to keep it from harassing medical marijuana providers. Then, the Brookings Institution issued a strongly worded report outlining the administration’s role in “stifling medical research” into medical uses of pot.

Unfortunately for the DEA, the year isn’t over yet. Last week, a group of 12 House members led by Ted Lieu (D) of California wrote to House leadership to push for a provision in the upcoming spending bill that would strip half of the funds away from the DEA’s Cannabis Eradication Program and put that money toward programs that “play a far more useful role in promoting the safety and economic prosperity of the American people”: domestic violence prevention and overall spending reduction efforts.

Marijuana Legalization Is The New Gay Marriage

Now that gay marriage is legal, what’s next? We liberals need a new movement that will once again put conservatives on the wrong side of history. The LA Timesreports the answer might be marijuana:

The latest sign was the full-throated call last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders to end federal prohibition. With that one move, the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination plunged into uncharted territory — and, arguably, so did the presidential race. Never before has a contender with so much to lose so unequivocally suggested that smoking a joint should be viewed the same as drinking a beer, at least in the eyes of the law.

….Hillary Rodham Clinton has told small audiences in the pot havens of Oregon and Colorado that marijuana businesses in states where it is legal need relief fromfederal restrictions that can make it impossible for them to operate.


Australia To Lift Ban On Medical Cannabis

AUSTRALIA: The Australian government has announced plans to allow cannabis to be legally grown for medical and scientific purposes.

Under current laws, marijuana is classified as an illegal drug, and while penalties vary from state to state, people who grow, use, possess or sell it can be fined or sent to prison.

In a statement Saturday, the government said the Narcotics Drugs Act 1967  would be amended to allow the drug to be grown locally, without breaching the country’s international obligations as a signatory to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961.

“This Government is incredibly sympathetic to the suffering of those Australians with debilitating illnesses and we want to enable access to the most effective medical treatments available,” Health Minister Sussan Ley said in a statement.

Geoffrey Edelsten Will Sell Medical Marijuana

AUSTRALIA:  Maverick medico Geoffrey Edelsten has teamed up with a colleague in Canada who he claims holds a licence to grow Cannabis in Nevada and the two plan to buy a range of marijuana dispensaries in the US.

Spotting a looming lucrative market, Edelsten, who was deregistered as a doctor in 1988, also plans to open cannabis stores in Australia when laws permit him to.

“They are extremely popular and very successful as a business,” he said.

“I notice that other states here in Australia are having investigations to see whether it should be made legal and I think it will be. The medical benefits are unarguable now and very well-known.


Australia Next To Legalise Medical Marijuana In August

AUSTRALIA:  Australia could be the next nation to legalise medical marijuana as senators from all the major political parties are set to endorse a bill giving cannabis the green light.

Led by Greens Leader Richard Di Natale​, a committee made up of Coalition, Labor and cross-bench senators will strongly recommend that Parliament pass the bill to set up a medical marijuana regulator.

The Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis Bill would effectively make the federal government responsible for overseeing the production, distribution and use of the drug Down Under.

After conducting public hearings around the country and attracting almost 200 public submissions, the committee is due to deliver its report on August 10.


Seizure-Plagued-Teen In Coma Approved For Cannabis Treatment On ‘Compassionate Grounds’

AUSTRALIA:  A Nelson teenager in an induced coma has been granted the one-off use of cannabis treatment to help his condition after the Government approved the drug on “compassionate grounds”.

Today, Associate Minister of Health Hon Peter Dunne granted the use of Elixinol, a cannabidiol (CBD) product from the United States, to be administered by doctors treating Alex Renton in Wellington Hospital.

The 19-year-old has been in the hospital’s intensive care unit since April with a condition causing him to suffer repeated seizures.

The Capital and Coast District Health Board asked the Ministry of Health to approve the use of medical marijuana after all other treatment options had failed.


Plan To Grow Cannabis On Norfolk Island For Export Overseas Goes Up In Smoke

AUSTRALIA:  The Federal Government has ordered an urgent review after a licence was granted to grow a commercial crop of marijuana on Australian soil.

The AusCann group announced plans to cultivate the drug on Norfolk Island and export medicinal cannabis to Canada, where doctors can grant approval for patients to purchase cannabis from licensed producers.

AusCann have been granted a growers licence by the parliament of Norfolk Island. Last year, a similar licence was vetoed by the Federal Government.

Norfolk Island is a self-governing territory more than 1000km from the Australian mainland.



Kentucky Industrial Hemp Production Starting Second Planting

KENTUCKY: From THC levels to plant shape and uses, industrial hemp is worlds apart from its cannabis cousin marijuana, Maysville Rotary Club members learned on Tuesday.

Speaking at its meeting was Adam Watson, manager of the Organic Certification Program at the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

Watson is also coordinator for the industrial hemp program in Kentucky which has been progressing since the passage of Kentucky Senate Bill 50 in 2013 and the Federal Farm Bill enacted in 2014.

Currently in the experimental stage, hemp production methods at the 20 Kentucky growers have been in line with how the plant is grown in Canada, Watson said.

Estimated crop value would be in the $600 to $800 per acre planted, Watson said.