AFAIK marijuana cannot actually cure
anything. In certainly can help with symptoms, but not cure.
Pharma companies generally have a long, expensive wait before a drug is approved; the cost runs into millions. They have to make up that money
somehow, and the circle begins.
Cost to develop ---> approval -----> drug is priced to help recoup R&D costs and
enable further testing for new drugs.
No money = no more new drugs.
If it makes it easier, here's a very quick summary of how drug trials work (this applies worldwide).
Phase I - This is the initial introduction to humans. This study concentrates on how the drug is absorbed, metabolized, and excreted, and the
number of subjects is between 40 and 80; the patients do not
have the disease for which the drug is indicated.
Phase II - Similar to phase I, but this time in patients who do
suffer from the disease. As a general rule, this group rarely exceeds 1200 or
so in number. In addition, most phase II studies are randomized trials. One group of patients will receive the experimental drug, while a second
"control" group will receive a standard treatment or placebo and these studies are also usually "blind"-- neither the patients nor the researchers
know who is getting the experimental drug.
Phase III - After efficacy has been established, the drug is then given to a larger number of patients (usually around 3000) in different clinical
settings to determine its safety, effectiveness and appropriate dosage. Assuming the drug is considered safe (in addition to being effective), it's
after this phase that the drug is submitted to the FDA for approval. Again, this phase is randomized and blinded as a rule.
Phase IV - After approval, the pharm. company will continue testing the study drug or treatment to collect information about their effect in various
populations, any side effects associated with long-term use, and its impact on quality of life.
It's generally only during (and after) Phase IV trials that we begin to see the long term effects. Also, the FDA can make a conditional approval -
that is, the drug will be approved only if company promises to run Phase IV studies afterwards
Now...I'm the first to agree that drugs are still grossly overpriced; but the above might help understand at least part of why they cost so much.
If anyone is looking for information on how different countries do testing on herbal products, you can find the German Monologues (widely considered
to be the "bible" of herbal products) online.
Back to the question though - what does marijuana actually cure?
And a question of my own
We generally obtain a second opinion if we're told we need surgery. Yet we rarely ask for a second opinion if we're prescribed a drug. Why is