Wednesday December 19, 2018

Germany legalizes the use of Cannabis for medicinal purposes for people who are chronically ill

The draft law says patients will only have the right to be treated with cannabis "in very limited exceptional cases" and patients will not be allowed to grow their own cannabis

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FILE - A variety of medicinal marijuana buds in jars are pictured at Los Angeles Patients & Caregivers Group dispensary in West Hollywood, California. VOA
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Germany’s lower house of parliament on Thursday passed a law that legalizes the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes for people who are chronically ill.

Those suffering from serious illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and chronic pain or a lack of appetite or nausea could be offered marijuana under the law.

The draft law says patients will only have the right to be treated with cannabis “in very limited exceptional cases” and patients will not be allowed to grow their own cannabis.

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“Those who are severely ill need to get the best possible treatment and that includes health insurance funds paying for cannabis as a medicine for those who are chronically ill if they can’t be effectively treated any other way,” said Health Minister Hermann Groehe.

A Health Ministry spokeswoman said cannabis would only be used as a last resort when nothing else seemed to work. She said a scientific study would simultaneously be carried out to assess the effects of cannabis use in such cases.

Until now patients had only been able to get access to cannabis for medicinal purposes with special authorization which had made it complicated, but now they will be able to get a prescription from their doctors and a refund for it from their health insurance fund, she said.

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She said the law was likely to take effect in March after a procedural reading by the upper house of parliament.

State-supervised cannabis plantations will be set up in Germany in future and until then cannabis will be imported. Other countries that allow cannabis to be used for medical purposes include Italy and the Czech Republic. (VOA)

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Cannabis-Based Drug May Aid in Motor Neuron Disease

For the trial, the team included 60 adults (aged 18-80 years)

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Cannabis-based drug may help in motor neuron disease: Lancet. pixabay

A cannabis-based drug may help ease muscle movement for people suffering from motor neuron disease, the results of a clinical trial have shown.

The study, published in The Lancet Neurology journal, showed that chemical compounds — delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol THC and cannabidiol (THC-CBD) — derived from the cannabis sativa plant given as an add-on treatment may help ease symptoms of spasticity (tight or stiff muscles).

Spasticity is a rapidly progressive, fatal neurodegenerative disorder affecting the nerve cells that control muscle movement. It is a major cause of disability and reduced quality of life in people with motor neuron disease.

Adults with motor neuron disease who took a combination of anti-spasticity drugs and cannabidiol experienced less spasticity and pain at six weeks follow-up compared with those given placebo.

“There is no cure for motor neuron disease so improved symptom control and quality of life are important for patients,” said lead researcher Nilo Riva from the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Italy.

Marijuana, Canada
In this July 12, 2018 file photo, a newly-transplanted cannabis cuttings grow in pots at a medical marijuana cultivation facility in Massachusetts. (VOA)

“Our trial showed a beneficial effect of THC-CBD spray in people on treatment-resistant spasticity and pain,” Riva added.

However, there is a need to confirm efficacy and safety of THC-CBD spray in larger, longer term phase 3 trials, Riva said.

For the trial, the team included 60 adults (aged 18-80 years).

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Spasticity and pain was significantly improved in the THC-CBD spray group compared with placebo.

Overall, THC-CBD spray was well tolerated and adverse events were mild to moderate, the researchers said. (IANS)