Fourteen years since California passed the first-in-the-nation medical marijuana law, pot is not just for the sick, the Associated Press reports. Hundreds of medical marijuana doctors, operating without official scrutiny, have helped make it available to nearly anyone who wants it. They practice a lucrative and thriving specialty, serving as linchpins of a billion-dollar industry. They need not to report whom they recommend the drug to, how many referrals they give, or for what ailments.
“There is something inappropriate about doctors being the gatekeepers,” said Timmen Cermak, president of the California Society of Addiction Medicine. “They are secretaries here  All they are doing is telling the police to keep their hands off.” As voters decide today if they want California to be the first to legalize recreational pot use and sales, the medical marijuana system they helped establish in 1996 has effectively become a legal cover to smoke pot. AP says the system is a cautionary example for other states crafting their own laws. Among them are Arizona and South Dakota, which have medical marijuana on today’s ballot. Under California’s law, medical doctors and osteopaths can recommend the drug for any illness “for which marijuana provides relief,” which has come to include conditions such as alcoholism, anxiety, asthma, and insomnia. Getting approval in the other 13 states that allow pot for medical use is far more difficult.