I did a research paper on the medical uses in college and used Grinspoon as a major source. He and other sources say that marinol is not the same as MJ because it contains only THC. MJ has over 600 active ingredients. Some of them are useful as well, and I've heard that marinol makes ppl more anxxious and on edge than MJ.
From personal experience- My grandmother died of cancer in 1984 when I was 9. She insisted on chemo til the end, something I would not have done given the fact that it was more toxic then and I feel that her last months were spent vomiting and had very little quality of life. She must've had her reasons.... Chemo is not as toxic now anyways- and palliative doses are given when they will help, not hurt from what I understand.
Anyway, she tried marinol and it caused major anxiety. She was so anxious that she couldn't eat, so she didn't take it after the first few times. I don't know where it came from- my family is very conservative, but in thatl ast week of her life someone gave her 2 joints. She smoked them. We have home video of her eating a meatball sub and enjoying it, and I remember that it was the only time in the last 6 months of her life when she was able to be my grandma. I did't know why b/c I was 9 but found out later that the MJ was what made her eat- she told my mom that she felt so much better and was not as physically weak simply b/c she ate.
So, medical marijuana is something that certain pts should not be denied. Ppl with AIDS, cancer, and people with glaucoma that is not relieved by traditional meds. I've heard it slows the progression of MS as well. HOWEVER, I am a travel nurse and my last contract was in CA. I stayed with my sister (who doesn't smoke it regularly) and got to know a lot of her friends. It seems that everyone in San Fran knows someone with a medical card and that they use them as a source. Her friend was getting it for carpal tunnel syndrome- that's pushing it. However, he and his friends were not getting arrested, just stoned. One arrest related to MJ can ruin someones career way more than smoking it responsibly and not driving or showing up at work high. There were no illegal dealers in the picture and the risk of doing business with the black market is what causes a lot of the violence linked to drugs.
I don't smoke it anymore- last time I did I could hardly remember my own name, so my opinion is not coming from someone who wants it legal so that it will benefit them.
It should be available to those whom it is documented to help and more research needs to be done to find out what the other ingredients are and how they mitigate the side effects of marinol, also to have valid research re: it's use for other conditions.
As far as non medical use, I thing they should legalize it and regulate the hell out of it. Even taxed it would be cheaper that off the street and if regulated smokers would know that they weren't getting stuff mixed with other drugs.
I think that you should be nailed for driving on it or other things associated with alcohol for example. I do not advocate use of it if it endangers others. Right now it is more dangerous b/c of the illegal part. Regulate it, sell it to ppl over 21, and I still think it's less harmful than alcohol. It can cause cancer when smoked in joint form but there are ways to introduce it to someones system other than inhaling the smoke.