Bottom line on medical marijuana: prohibition is the worst possible form of control and create immense collateral damage. Medical marijuana has been a welcome relief — and a diversion, whose limits are sticking out more and more everyday. It also created a grey marketplace were some flourished.
All psychoactive substances, whether legal (alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, etc), prescription or illegal work the same way. Our neurons don’t read labels and couldn’t care less about legal status. Patterns of use are similar for all psychoactive substances: a small percentage will abuse while the vast majority use responsibly, and regular moderate use is often good for health (true for caffeine, alcohol, coca leaf, some prescription drugs, and probably MJ or opium). Moderate use of opium was the general rule for thousands of years as opium was one of the basis of medicine (and still is, ironically – opiates still are the best pain-management tools around).
The war on drugs is also a cultural war, touting alcohol, the dominant psychoactive substance of Western civilization, against the dominant psychoactive substances of Andean or Eastern civilization: coca leaf, cannabis and opium; meanwhile, the western-dominated pharmaceutical industry is flooding the planet with a new generation of psychoactive substances in its (so far very successful) attempt at medicalization of normalcy. This, by the way, is one of the dominant theme of my just released ” World War-D: the case against prohibitionism. A roadmap to controlled re-legalization.”
The only viable long-term solution to the drug issue: global re-legalization under a multi-tiers “legalize, tax, control, prevent, treat and educate” regime with practical and efficient mechanisms to manage and minimize societal costs.
Far from giving up and far from an endorsement, controlled legalization would be finally growing up; being realistic instead of being in denial; being in control instead of leaving control to the underworld. It would abolish the current regime of socialization of costs and privatization of profits to criminal enterprises, depriving them of their main source of income and making our world a safer place.