This was originally a response to a private email, but it looks good enough to share generally:
I'm not sure which of my many blatherings you're referring to, but you may be confusing two different things.
Yes, I'm in favor of self-medication. My cabinet includes, among other things, ibuprophen, aspirin, and two different anti-histamines. If I wanted to run the legal risks, I would have mj available for insomnia, but my position is rather exposed.
On the other hand, I am not competent by training for more sophisticated diagnosis and can't do the blood tests needed for more powerful medication. I'm happy to have both doctors and the FDA handy for my use. But they need not be exclusive.
I am opposed to two things.
The claim that all non-doctor-mediated drug use is self-medication is bogus. A lot of drug use -- alcohol, marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, 'srooms -- is strictly recreational and social. Some -- mainly caffeine and other uppers -- is work-related like combat aircrews on amphetamines, "go-fast pills". Some is religious -- mj for Rastas and Coptic Zionists, wine for Christains and Jews, psychedelics for self-awareness. Some is simple curiousity.
These claims are just as valid as claims of medical use.
Second, a lot of self-medication is mis-directed and counterproductive. If taken for the wrong disease or disorder they, even mj, may increase the disorder rather than alleviate it. Even marijuana can make some conditions worse.
In short, I would say too things:
1. While everyone should have the right to self-medicate, over the last half-century both medical science and pharmacology have become so complex that only a fool would use self-medication for more than the most simple and routine disorders, and
2. Over-stating the claims that use of marijuana or other street drugs is always self-medication denigrates and denies the legitimacy of uses for recreation, productivity, spirituality, and even experimentation.
There's room for everybody.