The latest Fortune magazine to hit the stands contains an article dealing with the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Among many of the pros and cons discussed in this article, one common topic is the demand increase for medical marijuana, specifically in the state of California. "There are an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 medical marijuana patients in the state now, and the figure is rapidly growing." Being that this is currently an illegal drug, it is hard to rid ourselves of the notion that this is a heavily sought after drug solely to relish the legal aspect of "smoking weed." Other than legal issues, marijuana has always been frowned upon because of the method of intake; the form of smoke. But with safer ways of consumption, such as foods, capsules, lozenges, butters, and even drinks, the demand will continue to rise. A key factor in determining demand is acceptance and tolerance for marijuana. The acceptance rate nation-wide has substantially grown.
A poll taken shows the percent opposed to marijuana drop from approximately 82% in the 90's to nearly 50% today. Many factors for this include health risks (or the lack thereof), pain relief, and economic recovery (much like the effects of the 21st Amendment). The article states, "It's even possible that legalization would reduce national health-care costs, by easing demand for costly pharmaceuticals." As the substance is tolerated more at a federal level, the 'non-pothead' demographic will be more willing to seek out this alternative, making marijuana a clear substitute for many forms of drugs prescribed today. One doctor reported "...that his cannabis patients had either stopped or cut back their use of...Tylenol, aspirin,.., anti-depressants, anti-panic, [and] obsessive compulsive [medications]..." The positive cross price elasticity of demand for marijuana will force high-priced drug products to reduce prices. The determining factor is just a matter of whether or not the alternative gets legal on the open market.
For further information, see:
Parloff, Roger. "How Pot Became Legal." Fortune 28 September 2009: 140-62. Print.