But, you're right, it's not "as simple as that". Pain can be managed without the use of drugs, and especially without the use of narcotics or illegal drugs. In fact, chronic use of opiates can actually CAUSE pain, rather than alleviate it. There are a large number of anti-inflammatories out there. Pain is both somatic and psychological in its components with respect to how it's tolerated on an individual to individual basis. Like depression, pain can be a downward, worsening spiral in one person, and overcome in another. Some people "have it in them" to overcome pain, like myself. Other people can LEARN to manage their pain with little to no drug use. Still others can't. And still others will use every excuse in the book to remain on their preferred medication. I've known people of every color in that rainbow. IME, those who advocate breaking the law to treat their pain almost always fall into the last group, those who actually like taking the drugs they're taking.
On the "medical marijuana boards", let's not forget what I said previously. You have on those boards a whole bunch of people who use or are advocates of using the "drug". Information circulates and is repeated, and I'm sure myths endure, as in any other closed community. The problem is no one who wants to use, or continue to use, marijuana (or any other drug), is actively researching why they should NOT be doing so.
And, on sleeping pills... yet another unnecessary palliative that can be, potentially, far more harmful than helpful. And ANY drug, including marijuana, taken to "fall asleep", can cause you to become dependant upon it specifically for that purpose. Sleep involves a whole mess of chemical processes and responses within the body and is not some simple thing. There are many reasons why a person can not fall asleep and, most of the time, these are psychological. Barring organic brain injury or congenital defect or disorder, insomnia is both cognitive and behavioral. Treating cognitive and behavioral "problems" with drugs NEVER works long term. Finding other ways in which to deal with insomnia are usually far more successful, long term. And, before you accuse me of "not knowing what it's like", BTDT. I rarely have bouts of insomnia any longer as long as I listen to my body's cues as to when to sleep. Not everyone is a 9to5er. I'm not.