As most of the country knows, the voters in the State of Washington approved legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. I have a LOT of mixed feelings about this and, in fact, did not vote for it. On one hand, there is a certain hypocrisy in a nation that outright encourages pharmaceutical companies to run over our health care system with a MAC truck while simultaneously saying other drugs are illegal and can't be possessed by anyone. On the other hand, the multitude of major problems in supplying marijuana are only just beginning.
When Washington passed its medical marijuana law a few years ago I saw an increase in the number of people coming to get prescriptions from me for medical marijuana. Once again, with this new law I have seen an increase in the number of people seeking out prescriptions for marijuana. I suspect the current increase is due to people wanting to get their hands on it for recreational purposes, but the outlets apart from medical marijuana dispensaries are still not available to supply it. Since a number of people have called to see if I prescribe marijuana, I will just say here that I do not, and here's why.
I have worked with quite a number of drug addiction cases in my almost 19 years of practice, including cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, and alcohol. I have seen my share of habitual marijuana users, and have talked with their families. One of the sinister dark sides that I've observed, apart from all the blatantly obvious life/health/economic effects on their lives, is all of these substances zap all ambition, motivation, and spiritual groundedness. Heavy users do little with their lives once they start using. I don't believe God made us to be couch potatoes shut up in our houses killing our pain with any kind of substance - prescription or otherwise. In the process of killing their pain and escaping their lives with drugs their divine calling, their vocations (as well as their income potentials) dry up. They all become dependent upon someone else or an institution of some kind.
In addition, a study last summer out of Australia showed that people under 20 years old who use marijuana consistently lose IQ, which appears to be permanent. What we do not need is a generation with less smarts up against the kind of complicated planet-changing processes that are becoming apparent to almost everyone.
But marijuana is natural. So is foxglove (it can kill you.) So is lobelia (it can make you deathly ill.) So is pennyroyal... there are hundreds of plants that are not compatible with our physical well-being or should be used very carefully in the hands of someone knowledgeable as medicine, not as recreation. The outright established medical uses for marijuana are actually pretty limited. The list as I know it is limited to two: glaucoma and nausea from chemotherapy. Just in the past week a third possible aid from it has been shown to be slowing dementia. Many have a lot of other supposed uses for it. While there is nothing wrong with fun and using marijuana occasionally, when it becomes a cornerstone of daily life -- as it often does -- then that is a recipe for a slide down a very unhealthy path.