Research Proves Marijuana is Not a "Gateway Drug"

The surging debate surrounding the legalization of marijuana has brought with it the resurrection of the "gateway theory," which alleges that experimenting with marijuana leads to the use of harder drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. The gateway debate was reborn last week, thanks to a video of FBI director Robert Mueller testifying before Congress that marijuana should be illegal because it leads to more dangerous drug use.

Although the Mueller video has provoked amusement on pot-friendly websites, the unfortunate reality is that the "gateway drug" stigma continues to present an impediment to the reform of marijuana laws. A new Rasmussen poll found that a large percentage of Americans believe the gateway argument:

The new survey also shows that nearly half of voters (46%) believe marijuana use leads to use of harder drugs. Thirty-seven percent (37%) do not see marijuana as a "gateway" drug.

Revealingly, the percentage who opposed marijuana legalization and the percentage who believed in the gateway theory were identical, both coming in at exactly 46%. As we look for ways to persuade those who remain opposed to marijuana reform, it's clearly in our interest to work towards demolishing the pernicious gateway theory once and for all. Let's take a look at what the data shows.

In 1999, drug czar Barry McCaffrey commissioned a major study on medical marijuana conducted by the venerable Institute of Medicine, which included an examination of marijuana's potential to lead to other drug use. In simple terms, the researchers explained why the gateway theory was unfounded:

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 marijuana first. In fact, most drug users begin with alcohol and nicotine before marijuana -- usually before they are of legal age.

There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.

In 2006, the University of Pittsburgh released a more thorough study in which researchers spent 12 years tracking a group of subjects from adolescence into adulthood and documented the initiation and progression of their drug use. The researchers found that the gateway theory was not only wrong, but also harmful to properly understanding and addressing drug abuse:

This evidence supports what’s known as the common liability model, an emerging theory that states the likelihood that someone will transition to the use of illegal drugs is determined not by the preceding use of a particular drug but instead by the user’s individual tendencies and environmental circumstances.

“The emphasis on the drugs themselves, rather than other, more important factors that shape a person’s behavior, has been detrimental to drug policy and prevention programs,” Dr. Tarter said. “To become more effective in our efforts to fight drug abuse, we should devote more attention to interventions that address these issues, particularly to parenting skills that shape the child’s behavior as well as peer and neighborhood environments.”

Of course, the simplest refutation of the gateway theory is the basic fact that most marijuana users just don't use other drugs. As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports:

More than 100 million Americans have tried marijuana; 14.4 million Americans are estimated to be "past-month" users. Yet there are only an estimated 2,075,000 "past-month" users of cocaine and 153,000 "past-month" users of heroin. [DrugWarFacts]

Clearly, people who use marijuana overwhelmingly do not move on to other drug use. That's why the number of people who use marijuana will always be more than 10 times greater than the number of people who use cocaine, heroin, etc. The fact that marijuana users rarely become involved in other drug use is right here in front of us.

Unfortunately, there is one important way in which marijuana use can result in exposure to other more dangerous drugs. Laws against marijuana have created an unregulated black market, in which criminals control the supply and may attempt to market more dangerous drugs to people who just want marijuana. As the Journal of the American Medical Association reported in 2003:

Alternatively, experience with and subsequent access to cannabis use may provide individuals with access to other drugs as they come into contact with drug dealers. This argument provided a strong impetus for the Netherlands to effectively decriminalize cannabis use in an attempt to separate cannabis from the hard drug market. This strategy may have been partially successful as rates of cocaine use among those who have used cannabis are lower in the Netherlands than in the United States."

Ironically, the only real gateway that exists is created by marijuana prohibition, yet proponents of harsh marijuana laws cynically cite the damage they've caused as evidence that the drug itself is acutely harmful. It's truly the height of absurdity, yet it persists despite the mountain of categorical data I've outlined above.

The point here isn’t just that marijuana isn’t actually a "gateway drug," but that there really is no such thing as a gateway drug to begin with. The term was invented by hysterical anti-drug zealots for the specific purpose of linking marijuana with harmful outcomes that couldn’t otherwise be established. Everyone knows marijuana is completely non-lethal, but if it leads to sticking needles in your arm, anything's possible. Through repeated use, the term began to stick and we're now confronted with a marijuana legalization debate in which 46% of the country believes an antiquated, widely-refuted fabrication that erroneously renders marijuana as deadly and unpredictable as anything a scared parent can imagine.

It's perfectly typical of the unhinged drug war demagogues that one of their most popular anti-pot propaganda points doesn't even actually have anything to do with pot. Their tireless reliance on such nonsense may go a long way towards explaining why support for legalization is growing faster than ever before.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Gateway theory

The World Health Organization's investigation into the gateway effect of marijuana stated emphatically that the theory that marijuana use by adolescents leads to heroin use is the "least likely of all hypotheses".

End of argument.

FBI WATCH

to view a partial list of crimes committed by FBI agents over 1500 pages long see
http://www.forums.signonsandiego.com/showthread.php?t=59139

to view a partial list of FBI agents arrested for pedophilia see
http://www.dallasnews.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3574

I'd like to see a book: "Prison Sentences for Gov't Agents"

The FBI have jokingly been referred to as those 'Funny Bunch of Individuals' ever since Hoovers sexual perversions were made public... he was a cross-dressing pornography collector after-all. And since porn is another gateway drug he was probably buggering boys and animals too... i hear he really enjoyed the petting zoo!

Beside how can you trust the FBI... they hire ex-potheads now... nothing brings down the caliber of gov't agent like pot... well, except for alcohol.

I wonder how long the list is for FBI agents fired for alcohol drug abuse? I personally know 2 former 'Special Agents' (poker buddies) fired for wrecking gov't vehicles while drunken drugged driving on duty. Liquid Lunches & Dinners have been the downfall of many government agents, turned alcoholics, over the years... yet it remains this nations irrational drug of choice!

Speaking of alcohol I better go check my latest batch of tax-free homebrew... another 5 gallons just about ready!

Legalize it. Treat it like alcohol plain and simple. End black m

Legalize it. Treat it like alcohol plain and simple. End black market and violence.

I'm so sick of the Gateway Drug Argument. Alcohol is the ULTIMATE GATEWAY DRUG. It's probably 90% of people's first buzz. And if they like it, the want more. None of my successful friends that smoke got into heavy drugs like coke.

Once it's legal it will be exciting for the first 3 months. After that, the people who smoke now, will probably smoke the same amount. And the people who won't, simply won't. Not much will change.

And if treated like alcohol. Kids will have as much access to it as a 6 pack of beer. So legalize it.

And to the folks that say NO and that have never done it, what right do they have to judge it?

Alcohol is THE gateway drug

In my opinion alcohol is the drug that increases peoples confidence and lowers their reasoning skills make it more likely to accept their first recreational drugs, leading to long term repeated use. People who end up as drug addicted, often had parents who were heavy drinkers leading to lower self esteem. I know it's not the direct link, but I believe people with lower self esteem are more prone to long term addiction of class A drugs.
I would much rather be able to go to my local liquor store to pick up a few joints instead of a few beers, in order to wind down. -John-

Will you turn into heroin addict after visits to the beer store?

Scott has it right. People only believe marijuana will turn you into a heroin addict because our laws permit hard drug dealers to sell marijuana.

Gateway to tyranny...

...that would be prohibition ,of course. The 'gateway' argument is a 'guilt by association' tactic, believed by ignorant plebs, and the self-serving, delusional types... that would be the law enforcers inc.

drug war is a front for tyrannical measures

seeing as the govt is fully aware of the truth, one must conclude that it is not in the interest of govt to relinquish any new freedoms; quite to the contrary, the drug war feeds the prison-industrial-complex, corrupt officials, wallstreet moneylaunderers.... and helps profile society by weeding out the druggies and free thinkers... there will be no need for us in their new world....

It's scary...

... how brainwashed a large chunk society still is. Most of them just don't know any better, but articles like this one that correctly debunk the fallacies behind the argument for prohibition is how we will end this great injustice. Kudos to you sir.

Today is the last day to Vote

In addition to voting YES to

In addition to voting YES to http://opengov.ideascale.com/akira/dtd/3191-4049 and/or http://opengov.ideascale.com/akira/dtd/2762-4049 vote NO to http://opengov.ideascale.com/akira/dtd/3161-4049 as it is not only a terrible idea, but the only issue with more votes than either of these two marijuana policy change topics.

Persistence of Marijuana Myths and Fallacies

So what makes decades-old bogus ideas like the gateway-drug supposition survive as a weapon in drug enforcement’s arsenal of faux propaganda?

Among other contributing factors may be the public’s tendency to ignore anything but quick, TV-style sound bites for their information.

Time and effort are needed to explain and understand facts via statistics, research studies, and so forth, all of which tend to bore or confuse people who don’t already identify with the topic.  The problem is not unique.  Noam Chomsky constantly battles the falsehoods and oversimplifications that come from media sound bites designed to manufacture public consent.  The same is true for anyone else who works with social and political phenomena that require complicated deconstructions.

Crashing the walls of obstinate drug warrior propaganda requires heavier media artillery.  Look at what Al Gore accomplished with his documentary An Inconvenient Truth.  A marijuana propaganda exposé in the format of a Frontline episode, 60-Minutes segment, or a report by ABC’s John Stossel would focus a hotter, brighter spotlight on the specifics of so-called drug gateways and non-drug-related emergency room admissions that are blamed on marijuana use.  Properly done, the debate would be over for everyone but a few diehard, extremist prohibs.

Giordano

More libertarians like John Stossel is critical...

Having more libertarian minded friends, like John Stossel, on our side is critical to the truth and the rule of law... which is currently being interpretted... and manipulated... by the democrats and republics... in grossly unlawful ways!

Without independent truthes we are left to rely on the purveyors of gods & gov'ts for information... and both of theses authoriatarian institutes, not surprisingly, are antagonistic to truth and the rule of law.

Remember: No one hates privacy more than an all seeing, all knowing, god... steeped in politics!

SAVE Our Children... From Impending Slavery...
By the Purveyors of Gods and Gov'ts!

From "60 Minutes" to "60 Years"!

The path to marijuana re-legalizatrion is as easy as 1-2-3.

Step 1: "60 Minutes" of nationally televised truth.
Step 2: A 'Truth Commission' by Grand Jury (Perjury charges).
Step 3: 60 years in prison for crimes against the constitution.

Reality: The true gateway drug

The man-made 80mg oxycontin selling for $80 on the street or a $10 stamp-bag of heroin? Do the math. It's called karma.

Please help. . .

After 18 years of meth, I'm seriously worried about my dependence on Starbuck's. My brother is 58 years old. He's been smoking pot since he was 16. I'm afraid that, any day now, he'll turn into a heroin junkie and die with a needle in his arm. Oh, wait . . . my ex-husband uses heroin. He's 58, too. I'm very worried that HE is going to turn into a pothead. Oh, dear, what a mess.

Big Brother's own studies disproved the gateway theory years ago. The usual progression for kids who experiment with drugs is tobacco, alcohol, marijuana. Most never make it any farther. The reality is, of course, that almost all of us started with caffeine.

Re: Sinister Exaggerators & International Criminals

Vilification is standard operating procedure for manufacturing enemies of the nation / precisious children.

Nationalism... aka gov't and religious sponsored national hatred... is easy to ferment with lies and half truthes to a sheepish populace apathetic and complacent to their civic responsibility of vigilance to the rule of law. As was recently demonstrated by Bush administration and their numerous crimes... both national and international.

Watching the Bill Moyers (he's this atheists kind of christian) documentary on u.s. gov't sponsoered terrorism last night on PBS I couldn't help but think how long it will take to get these disgusting humans behind bars! The kinds of mental and physical torture that the criminal bush administration authorized should be applied to them... not once or twice but in the same manner and time.

I would love to see cheney, bush, dumbsfeld, gonzales, and woo (just to name a few), stripped naked and shackled hand and foot to the concrete floor of a bare air conditioned cell... then kept in total darkness... except for the constantly flashing strobelights & blaring headbanger music... not just for a few days... but for months and even years (one poor INNOCENT bastard spent 2 years chained to the floor)... with no charges filled... no evidence required. Then just as quickly and unexpectedly as he was kidnapped he was released... no apologizes... or reasons given!

THIS, ALONG WITH LYING IN ONES OWN VOMIT AND FECES FOR DAYS AT A TIME, WAS NOT CONSIDERED TORCHER OR DEMEANING BY OUR FUNDAMENTALIST PRESIDENT AND THE CHRISTIANS SURROUNDING HIM - SICK FUCKING BASTARDS - THE WHOLE LOT OF THEM!

Have we got some True Gateway Theories for them!

#1 Religion leads to Ignorance, Hatred, and Murderous Behavior
#2 Government leads to Ignorance, Hatred, and Murderous Behavior

Christians came... Christians killed... Christians then call it their our own! Just ask Jeronimo... his race is still waiting for the illegal christian aliens to leave native america... the one christians stole... and falsely claim as their own... talk about your delusional wishful thinking!

Worse, since this 'kill and incarcerate' strategy works so well, especially since christian might makes right, they just keep on keeping on... with their evil ways!

Truth is Treason in the Kingdom of Lies!

JUNE 3rd DEADLINE

Voting is open until June 3rd when Ideas get moved to the next discussion phase:

http://opengov.ideascale.com/akira/dtd/3191-4049

This is currently the #5 issue on the site (out of over 1200 ideas)while an issue for Full Legalization is all the way to #3. Signing up takes minutes, so go do your part so we can keep our ideas in front of the President.

there is nooooo such thing as

there is nooooo such thing as a gate way drug

Research manipulation?

I'm not sure exactly what to believe about the existence of a possible gateway effect. But I would like to point out that the sources that you use are mainly talking about tobacco and alcohol and their relationship with marijuana and therefore are skewed within this article; which relates marijuana use as a gateway for "hard drugs" not between alcohol and tobacco. The sources are manipulated to fit the topic. But it is true that there was found to be little to no significance (relationship) between marijuana, alcohol, and cigarettes in the sources provided. 

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