Beyond measures limiting the access to drugs, including maintaining the current control policy of illegality, the other primary factor curbs drug use is reducing their perceived acceptability.
Conversely, greater attitudes of acceptance toward drug use tend to increase consumption. A recent study done by the Organization of American States’ drug policy arm, CICAD, found nearly a 1 to 1 correlation between reduced perceptions that marijuana is harmful and greater use of the drug. This is especially true among teens. The results were the same in the U.S. as they were in Uruguay, Chile, and several other Latin American countries.
Teens today are being sent mixed messages when they hear of the benefits of medical marijuana, especially when it is not made clear that the drug’s main therapeutic benefit is the cannabinoid used to suppress seizures and which has no hallucinogenic property. The psychoactive component in marijuana, THC, is used to spur appetite in patients with wasting diseases such as terminal cancer. Medicinal marijuana should be used to treat patients with severe illness, but not as a drug for casual users. If marijuana is to be used credibly for medical purposes, it seems that proponents should stay clear from advocating the legalization for recreational use.