MYTH 4: CANNABIS IS A GATEWAY DRUG
“Most people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, ‘harder’ substances. Cross-sensitization is not unique to marijuana. Alcohol and nicotine also prime the brain for a heightened response to other drugs and are, like marijuana, also typically used before a person progresses to other, more harmful substances… It is important to note that other factors besides biological mechanisms, such as a person’s social environment, are also critical in a person’s risk for drug use. An alternative to the gateway-drug hypothesis is that people who are more vulnerable to drug-taking are simply more likely to start with readily available substances like marijuana, tobacco, or alcohol, and their subsequent social interactions with other drug users increases their chances of trying other drugs.” (“is Marijuana a Gateway Drug.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. RSS N.p., September 2015. Web. 28 Jan. 2016).
“Scientists long ago abandoned the idea that marijuana causes users to try other drugs: as far back as 1999, in a report commissioned by Congress to look at the possible dangers of medical marijuana, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences wrote:
- ‘Patterns in progression of drug use from adolescence to adulthood are strikingly regular. Because it is the most widely used illicit drug, marijuana is predictably the first illicit drug most people encounter. Not surprisingly, most users of other illicit drugs have used drugs most people encounter. Not surprisingly, most users of other illicit drugs have used marijuana first. In fact, most drug users begin with alcohol and nicotine before marijuana – usually before they are of legal age.’
- In the sense that marijuana use typically precedes rather than follow initiation of other illicit drug use, it is indeed a ‘gateway’ drug. But because underage smoking and alcohol use typically precede marijuana use, marijuana is not the most common, and is rarely the first, ‘gateway’ to illicit drug use. There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are casually linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.’”
“21 states and the District of Columbia currently have laws that permit marijuana use for medical purposes, often termed medical marijuana laws (MMLs). We tested the effects of MMLs adopted in seven states between 2004 and 2011 on adolescent and adult marijuana, alcohol, and hard drug use… MMLs had no discernible impact on hard drug use in either age group (12-20, 21+).” (“The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Marijuana, Alcohol, and Hard Drug Use.” The National Bureau of Economic Research. RSS N.p., May 2014. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.)