Tag Archives: Science / Health and Law

How to strengthen the proposed cannabis law and proposed New Zealand | Instant News

Two drug policy experts have identified gaps and challenges in New Zealand’s proposal to legalize recreational marijuana. Before the widely monitored national referendum vote will take place this September, Associate Professor Chris Wilkins and Dr. Marta Rychert from Massey University debated on the pages Addiction that the New Zealand Cannabis Bill and Control Bill needs to be strengthened in two important areas:

Set official minimum prices for cannabis: Legalization of cannabis in other jurisdictions has resulted in a significant reduction in the legal price of cannabis. The minimum unit price has proven effective in reducing the level of alcohol consumption and related hazards. The CLCB includes the discretionary authority to raise the excise tax on cannabis for a maximum of 12 months if the price of cannabis falls below a level consistent with the objectives of the Act. This discretionary power does not have clear criteria for activation and thus does not meet clear minimum price requirements.

Lower the potential limit for cannabis products: High potency of cannabis is associated with increased acceptance of first-time cannabis treatment, a transition to daily use, cannabis dependence and a higher risk of recurrence of psychosis and psychosis. The maximum potential level of CLCB for cannabis plants (15% THC) appears to be at the higher end of what is currently found on the black market in New Zealand. The potential levels for edibles and extracts are expressed as milligrams “per unit” and “per package” without defining what constitutes a unit or package. (Edibles and concentrates will not initially be sold but they are included in the CLCB for future approval.)

Wilkins and Rychert also identified two CLCB public health goals that would be difficult to achieve:

Difficulty reducing cannabis from time to time through the commercial market: The CLCB mostly proposes the commercial cannabis market with provisions for non-commercial and non-profit supplies. The CLCB’s goal of reducing cannabis use over time appears to contradict the proposed commercial cannabis sector, which will focus on expanding sales. Non-commercial or non-profit operators can provide legal access to cannabis while avoiding profit-driven commercial companies.

Difficulties taxing products based on THC potential: CLCB proposes a progressive excise product based on the potential and weight of THC. Considerable work will be required to implement potential tax-based, including consistent sampling procedures, certified testing facilities, and effective audits to prevent producers from playing the system. Also, the reliability and replication of THC testing is problematic. Heavy taxation (similar to tobacco tax) can be a more practical alternative for now.

Dr Wilkins said: “The New Zealand referendum election will be the first time a country has had the opportunity to vote on a comprehensive regulatory framework to legalize cannabis rather than the general question asking whether marijuana should be legal or not. Therefore it is important that New New Zealand voters clearly understand the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed CLCB. ”

Wilkins and Rychert provided feedback on the first draft of the CLCB to the New Zealand Ministry of Justice Referendum Team, along with a number of other anonymous experts and public commentators. The authors do not receive financial or non-financial remuneration for these comments.


For editors:

Peer reviewed: Yes

Study type: Policy analysis

Research subjects: People

Funding: Government / research council

This paper is free to download for one month from the Wiley Online Library: https: //onlinelibrary.cunning.with/doi /abs /101111 /Add.15144 or by contacting Jean O’Reilly, Editorial Manager, Addiction, [email protected].

To talk with lead author Dr. Chris Wilkins: contact him at Massey University (New Zealand) via email ([email protected]) or telephone (+64 (09) 414 0800 ext. 41330).

Complete quote for the article: Wilkins C and Rychert M (2020) Assessing the Legalization and Control of the New Zealand Cannabis Bill: Prospects and Challenges. Addiction 115: doi: 10.1111 / add.15144.

Funding: The work in this paper is supported by external research funding from the New Zealand Royal Society Marsden Grant (MFP_MAU1813).

Addiction is a monthly international scientific journal that publishes peer research reports on alcohol, substances, tobacco and gambling as well as editorials and other debates. Owned by the Society for Dependency Studies, it has been published continuously since 1884. Addiction ISI’s journal number two in the 2019 Journal of Citation Report ranks in the substance abuse category (science and social science edition).

Rejection: AAAS and EurekAlert! is not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.


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Early exposure to cannabis increases the sensitivity of young brains to cocaine, mouse research found | Instant News

NEW YORK – The use of cannabis makes young brains more sensitive to first exposure to cocaine, according to a new study in mice led by scientists at Columbia University and Cagliari University in Italy. By monitoring the brains of adolescent and adult mice after giving them synthetic psychoactive cannabinoids followed by cocaine, the research team identified key molecular and epigenetic changes that occur in adolescent brains – but not adults. This discovery reveals new interactions between two drugs that have never been directly observed in biological detail.

This finding, reported this week at Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, providing a new understanding of how cannabis abuse during adolescence can enhance firsts with cocaine and lead to sustainable use among vulnerable individuals.

“We know from human epidemiological studies that people who abuse cocaine have a history of early cannabis use, and that a person’s initial response to drugs can have a big impact on whether they continue to use it. But many questions remain about how early cannabis. Exposure affects the brain,” said Epidemiologist Denise Kandel, PhD, who is a professor of Sociomedical Sciences in Psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Vagelos Surgeons in Columbia and co-senior author of today’s paper.

“Our study in mice is the first to map detailed molecular and epigenetic mechanisms in which cocaine interacts with the brain that has been exposed to cannabinoids, providing much needed clarity on biological mechanisms that can increase the risk of drug abuse and addiction,” co added. – Nobel Prize Recipient Eric Kandel, MD, codirector of Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Behavior Institute, Columbia, and Senior Investigator Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Previous research has revealed major differences in how cannabis and cocaine affect brain chemistry. “The study of the addictive nature of cocaine has traditionally focused on the mesolimbic dopaminergic pathway, the brain system that underlies our motivation to pursue pleasurable experiences,” said Philippe Melas, PhD, who is a research scientist at Eric Kandel’s laboratory at Zuckerman Institute’s laboratory in Columbia, Zuckerman Institute, Columbia. and is the co-senior author of this paper. “While cannabis increases mesolimbic dopaminergic activity similar to cocaine, it also affects an entirely different neurochemical system that is widespread in the brain called the endocannabinoid system. This system is very important for brain development – a process that is still ongoing in adolescence.”

Apart from the dopaminergic system, marijuana and cocaine seem to have some additional features. Recent studies have shown that the development of cocaine craving depends on the brain’s glutamatergic system. This system uses glutamate, a brain molecule that acts as a synaptic transmitter in the brain, increasing the transmission of signals between brain neurons. According to previous research, as well as the findings presented in new research today, the use of cannabis during adolescence can also influence this glutamatergic signaling process.

To dig deeper into the potential relationship between the two drugs, Dr. Melas and husband and wife team Drs. Eric and Denise Kandel partnered with Paola Fadda, PhD, Maria Scherma, PhD, and Walter Fratta, PhD, researchers in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, at the University of Cagliari in Italy. The group examined the behavioral, molecular and epigenetic changes that occur when juvenile and adult mice first experience WIN, a synthetic cannabinoid with psychoactive properties similar to THC found in cannabis, and then exposed to cocaine.

“We found that adolescent rats that had been previously exposed to WIN had an increased reaction to their initial exposure to cocaine. Specifically, we observed this effect in adult mice but not in adult mice,” Dr. researcher at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

After further examination, the team found that, when preceded by a history of use of psychoactive cannabinoids in adolescence, exposure to cocaine triggered a battery of unique molecular reactions in the rat brain. These reactions include not only the changes in the glutamate receptors mentioned above, but also the key epigenetic modifications. Epigenetic modifications are different, because they affect the way genes are turned on or off but do not affect the order of the genes themselves.

The Columbia team had previously discovered a similar epigenetic mechanism in adult animals in response to nicotine and alcohol in the brain’s appreciation center, known as nucleus accumbens. However, in this study, the epigenetic effects of canabinoids were found to be specific for adolescents and target the brain’s prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex, which plays a role in a variety of executive functions, including long-term planning and self-control, is one of the last areas of the brain to reach maturity, a fact that has long been linked to teenagers’ propensity for risky behavior. .

In addition, deviant prefrontal cortex activity is often observed in patients suffering from addictions. Efforts to improve the function of the prefrontal cortex are currently being evaluated in the treatment of addictions through the use of brain stimulation and other methodologies.

“Our findings show that exposure to psychoactive cannabinoids during adolescence primed the prefrontal cortex of animals, so that the response to cocaine was different from animals that had been given cocaine without previously having experienced cannabis,” Dr. Weld.

These results in mice offer important clues to biological mechanisms that might underlie the way various classes of drugs can mutually reinforce in humans. These results also support the idea that cannabis abuse during adolescence can enhance a person’s initial positive experience with different drugs, such as cocaine, which in turn can have an effect on whether that person chooses to continue, or expand, their initial use of cocaine. .

“This study shows that adolescents who use marijuana may have favorable initial reactions to cocaine, which will increase the likelihood of them being involved in repeated use so that they eventually become addicted, especially if they carry additional environmental or genetic vulnerability,” Dr. Denise Kandel.

Most research involving mice and addictions has traditionally focused on adult animals. It is also largely limited to studying one substance of abuse at a time, without considering the history of drug exposure in adolescence.

“These and other experiments are the key to understanding the molecular changes to the brain that occur during drug use,” Dr. Eric Kandel, who is also a University Professor and Kavli Professor of Brain Sciences at Columbia. “This knowledge will be very important for developing effective treatments that reduce addiction by targeting the mechanisms underlying this disease.”


This paper is entitled “Exposure to Cannabinoids in adolescent rats reprogramming initial behavioral, molecular and epigenetic responses to cocaine.” Additional contributors include Johanna S. Qvist, Arun Asok, PhD, Shao-shan C. Huang, PhD, Paolo Masia, PhD, Matteo Deidda, PhD, Ya B. Wei, PhD and Rajesh K. Soni, PhD.

This research was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Cohen Veterans Bioscience, Swedish Research Council (DN 350-2012-6535), Royal Physiographic Society in Lund (Sweden), Swedish-American Foundation, American National Institute of Mental Health (F32MH114306) and Project Department Biomedical Sciences in Italy (RICDIP_2012_Fratta_01).

The author states there is no conflict of interests.

Mortimer B. Zuckerman’s Mind Brain Behavior Institute from Columbia University brings together a group of world-class scientists and scholars to pursue the most pressing and interesting challenge of our time: understanding the brain and mind. A deeper understanding of the brain promises to change the health of humans and society. From effective treatments for disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression and autism to advances in areas as fundamental to computer science, economics, law, the arts and social policy, the potential for humanity is staggering. To learn more, visit: zuckermaninstitute.columbia.edu.


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