There appears to be a shift in the United States in favor of relaxing marijuana laws. Making pot legal, supporters say, can simultaneously provide relief for the sick and poke a hole in the operations of drug cartels. But the federal government has not acted to remove marijuana's label as a controlled substance and has reaffirmed its anti-pot policy.
Morgan Spurlock's new program, "Inside Man," premiered on CNN over the weekend with an in-depth look at the medical marijuana business in California. Here are five things to know about the current debate over the drug:
There is evidence of changing attitudes in America
Public perceptions about pot have come a long way in the past decades, from the dire warnings of "Reefer Madness" to growing acceptance of medical marijuana use.
Laws in several states decriminalizing marijuana or allowing for medical marijuana use are one indicator of how voters feel.
Two states -- Colorado and Washington -- have completely legalized pot for recreational use.
Adrien Grenier, best known for his role in the HBO hit "Entourage," produced a documentary film that examines who the people swept up in the war on drugs really are.
He made the film, "How to Make Money Selling Drugs," as a way to "examine the hypocrisy of the war on drugs," he wrote recently.
Grenier's views reflect those of an increasing number of Americans who, polls show, see the prohibition of marijuana as a waste of billions of dollars.
"I want to make clear that I am not looking to glamorize the drug trade," Grenier wrote. "But it is important to understand that little is to be gained from stigma and demonization."
Cheryl Shuman, who calls herself the Martha Stewart of marijuana, argues that marijuana can make you a better parent and provide economic opportunities for others.
"The bottom line is cannabis is here to stay, the toothpaste is out of the tube," Shulman told CNN's Piers Morgan.
But not all are convinced.
Last year, John Walters, who directed the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 2001 to 2009, told CNN that decriminalization is "utterly self-defeating" and would cause more crime.
The cost of prohibition remains high
It is estimated that $7.6 billion is spent annually by state and local justice systems on marijuana arrests, according to advocacy group NORML.
Advocates of reforms say instead of spending this money on enforcement, the government could spend it elsewhere and tax marijuana to reap even more for its coffers.
Indeed, taxing pot could raise hundreds of millions of dollars, but there is no guarantee that it would be a moneymaker for states.
The financial gains in Washington and Colorado, the two states that have legalized marijuana, have not been as great as some expected.
Washington had projected up to $450 million in added annual tax revenue, but the state's new pot consultant figures it could be little more than half that.
In Colorado, the Colorado Futures Center think tank forecasts $130 million in new tax revenue but thinks that won't even cover the cost of regulating the new industry.
Still, some say the legalization of pot would bring down the black markets that have left a murderous trail, drawing parallels with what happened during and after the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and '30s.
Estimates vary widely on how big a hit drug cartels would take if marijuana were legalized. While U.S. officials said in 2009 that 60% of cartel revenue came from weed, the RAND Corp. said the following year that "15-26 percent is a more credible range."
A report this month by the Mexican Competitiveness Institute predicted Mexican drug organizations, specifically the Sinaloa Cartel, could lose almost $2.8 billion just from the legalization votes in Colorado and Washington.
Studies cite medicinal benefits of marijuana