It can be seen that Australia, the US and Canada currently have divergent policies and laws in relation to the medical use of cannabis. The fact that such diametrically opposing laws exist across these common law jurisdictions is testament to the inherently controversial nature of legally accommodating cannabis for medical purposes.
The issue of cannabis use, in particular marijuana use, continues to divide not only the scientific and medical communities as far as its therapeutic benefits and risks are concerned. There are also socio-political objections that are routinely raised whenever any proposal is made to legislatively or judicially recognise an exception for medical users of cannabis from the general provisions of criminal drug laws for medical users of cannabis. In contrast to the US and Canada, every Australian jurisdiction currently prohibits the possession, cultivation and supply of cannabis even for medical purposes.
In Australia, the situation is further complicated for medical users because pharmaceutical cannabinoid medications are not generally freely available. There are undoubtedly challenges associated with legalising the medical use of cannabis, largely relating to the need to provide an efficient and legal supply of the drug to medical users as well as the appropriate role of doctors in any medical cannabis program. However, these challenges should not be regarded as so insurmountable as to preclude the medical use of cannabis, including marijuana, being legally accommodated in Australia, as it is in Canada and in a growing number of States in the United States.
(Source: Accommodating the Medical Use of Marijuana: Surveying the Differing Legal Approaches in Australia, the United States and Canada. Tony Bogdanoski. University of Sydney – Faculty of Law. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1552690#)
The study of marijuana cannabinoid biology has led to many important discoveries in neuroscience and immunology. These studies have uncovered a new physiological system, the endocannabinoid system, which operates in the regulation of not only brain function but also the regulation of the immune system.
Studies examining the effect of cannabinoid-based drugs on immunity have shown that many cellular and cytokine mechanisms are suppressed by these agents leading to the hypothesis that these drugs may be of value in the management of chronic inflammatory diseases. In this report, we review current information on cannabinoid ligand and receptor biology, mechanisms involved in immune suppression by cannabinoids with emphasis on antigen-presenting cells, and preclinical and clinical models analyzing the therapeutic potential of cannabinoid-based drugs. Endocannabinoids
Cannabis sativa L. or marijuana has been studied over the years because of its potential as both a therapeutic in the management of a variety of conditions ranging from rheumatism to epilepsy and a drug of abuse especially among young people. The chemicals in marijuana are well known to have behavioral and analgesic effects and therefore known to affect brain function; however, what is less appreciated are the immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects of these compounds and the associated cellular targets of action.
Work in the immune area has shown that just as the brain has an endocannabinoid system of receptors and endogenous ligands, the immune system also contains these system components that are subject to modulation by natural and synthetic agonists derived from marijuana cannabinoids. Source: Cannabinoid-Induced Immune Suppression and Modulation of Antigen-Presenting Cells
Trends in Pharmacological Sciences is one of the leading monthly review journals in pharmacology and toxicology. http://www.cell.com/trends/pharmacological-sciences/home