I just finished watching a documentary, "The Union, the business behind getting high", on Netflix (Netflix is my addiction). Damning as far as setting forth an argument against prohibition, showing the societal costs of prohibition as opposed to lack of known negatives. To be transparent about my own situation, I used as a teenager, thought better of it after getting some heroin-tainted product (which was too amazing), and never used again. Didn't like getting high anyway. I don't smoke, almost never drink, and it took a major disc problem before I was willing to take vicodin, and then only very briefly. I really hate what oxycodone has done to our medical system and to management of pain in the susceptible, addictive-prone populations. Purdue-Pharma has destroyed many lives, and made megabux, on oxycontin. But I certainly don't care if other people use marijuana.
The documentary set forth arguments for medical benefits in certain settings. In some ways, they sound like "cure-all" benefits of other herbs, vitamins, and "natural products". The costs of prohibition are significant, including infrastructure, outlays for employment of enforcing personnel, adding to distrust of government, and restriction of individual freedoms for little reason.
Costs of prohibition:
High incarceration rate.
Diversion of resources from other needs.
Miseducation of the public.
Deprives citizens of a generally safe product for entertainment and palliation.
Benefits of prohibition:
Certain industries benefit - private prisons, employment of prison guards, pharmaceutical industries.
Certain politicians benefit. Plus, they're afraid that if they support repeal of prohibition, they'll lose the next election.
Parents get to have a soothing, false sense of security that their kids aren't using weed. Just ocycontin and heroin.
It bothers me that marijuana is promoted as medicinal. Even with certain benefits, the doctor is currently put in the impossible position of either being a 'go-to' person for "marijuana cards" - potentially putting their license at risk, and swamping their practice with people who want it for their 'headaches', 'back pain', and other real or not-real symptoms. In addition, with increasing issues of oxycodone and other narcotic diversion, the DEA requires drug testing of some pain patients and if marijuana is present, their legal narcotic prescriptions must sometimes be cancelled. With no quality control, safety regulation, dose management, it's impossible for the doctor to know what they are prescribing, or if it is safe or effective. Not to mention, there is no training in use of marijuana and it doesnt come with long, lawyer-written disclaimers about the zillions of potential side effects that you get with, say, your cholesterol or blood pressure pills.
Really, medical marijuana seems like a 'back-door' route to legalization. But it's no more honest than people who want it illegal to "limit use", since it certainly hasn't eliminated use.
The primary use of marijuana is and should be recreational. As for actual scientific trials of marijuana - I'm not sure there are any, or many, good clinical trials. If someone wants to use it "medicinally", it should be in the same category as naturopathy or herbalism, unless controlled trials are able to demonstrate specific benefits in specific medical scenarios. What is so bad about people having some fun? It's safer than booze. It's already illegal to drive while intoxicated, wehther with ethanol or marijuana.
What would happen if we eliminated the prohibition?
1 - Monsanto would make genetically engineered marijuana, and drive small players out of the market. The Monsanto product would be Roundup-Ready, contain B. thuringensis as a pesticide, and contain zero (as opposed to almost zero) THC. This would be a better renewable product than some of our other fiber and paper products. (That being said, most of the hemp clothes that I have seen are really scratchy - maybe Ive just seen the wrond ones). The tobacco companies, with existing manufacturing and marketing infrastructure, might dominate the market.
2 - Large scale use of hemp as an agricultural commodity, for fabric, fiber, and other uses, would make available billions of acres of plant material, and swamp the market with fake marijuana, resulting in sales of non-intoxicating hemp as bogus marijuana. The only way for people to be sure that their weed is good, will be development of brand name products.
3 - Companies like Marboro would get into the recreational marijuana industry, developing trusted brand names so that people could be reassured that they are buying "the real deal" instead of hemp intended for T-shirt manufacture or paper. Some people would grow their own. The plants do look pretty.
Where is the nonsense in discussion of marijuana?
-claiming It's incredibly harmful.
-claiming Dire consequences would occur if prohibition ended.
-claiming It's a cure-all for anything that ails you.
-claiming It's a medicinal product and should be treated as medicine.
So that's my 2¢