By

Neal Smith

 

Marijuana as a “Gateway” substance to other illegal “Drugs?” That’s one of the fallacies the U.S. government has been putting out as “Evidence” of Marijuana’s dangers. But there’s no scientific evidence to support this idea. There have been many claims, but no study has shown any of them to be based in fact.

The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute on Medicine performed an exhaustive study in 1999 that was the first debunking of the notion that if you smoke Marijuana you will want to use Heroin. There is no evidence that Marijuana leads to other illicit substances. The IOM report explains it this way:

“The stepping stone hypothesis applies to marijuana only in the broadest sense. People who enjoy the effects of marijuana are, logically, more likely to be willing to try other mood-altering drugs than are people who are not willing to try marijuana or who dislike its effects. In other words, many of the factors associated with a willingness to use marijuana are, presumably, the same as those associated with a willingness to use other illicit drugs. Those factors include physiological reactions to the drug effect, which are consistent with the stepping stone hypothesis, but also psychosocial factors, which are independent of drug-specific effects. There is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping stone on the basis of its particular physiological effect. One might argue that marijuana is generally used before other illicit mood-altering drugs, in part, because its effects are milder; in that case, marijuana is a stepping stone only in the same sense as taking a small dose of a particular drug and then increasing that dose over time is a stepping stone to increased drug use. Whereas the stepping stone hypothesis presumes a predominantly physiological component of drug progression, the gateway theory is a social theory. The latter does not suggest that the pharmacological qualities of marijuana make it a risk factor for progression to other drug use. Instead, the legal status of marijuana makes it a gateway drug.”

Source check this at: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=6376&page=99 What this is saying, in essence, is the illegality of Marijuana is more responsible for progression to drugs of abuse than the Marijuana itself.

In 2002, the Rand Corporation released a report questioning the Gateway Theory:

“This evidence would appear to make a strong case for a gateway effect. However, another explanation has been suggested: Those who use drugs may have an underlying propensity to do so that is not specific to any one drug. There is some support for such a “common-factor” model in studies of genetic, familial, and environmental factors influencing drug use. The presence of a common propensity could explain why people who use one drug are so much more likely to use another than are people who do not use the first drug. It has also been suggested that marijuana use precedes hard-drug use simply because opportunities to use marijuana come earlier in life than opportunities to use hard drugs. The DPRC analysis offers the first quantitative evidence that these observations can, without resort to a gateway effect, explain the strong observed associations between marijuana and hard-drug initiation.”

http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB6010/index1.html.

In 2006, an article in American Journal of Psychiatry reported a study by Ralph E. Tartar PhD et al that also dismissed the Gateway Theory:

“Twenty-eight (22.4%) of the participants who used marijuana did not exhibit the gateway sequence, thereby demonstrating that this pattern is not invariant in drug-using youths. Among youths who did exhibit the gateway pattern, only delinquency was more strongly related to marijuana use than licit drug use. Specific risk factors associated with transition from licit to illicit drugs were not revealed. The alternative sequence had the same accuracy for predicting substance use disorder as the gateway sequence. CONCLUSIONS: Proneness to deviancy and drug availability in the neighborhood promote marijuana use. These findings support the common liability model of substance use behavior and substance use disorder.”

http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/163/12/2134

In 2010, a University of New Hampshire study showed that while teens who used Marijuana had a chance to use hard drugs later on, that is mollified by other factors:

“Our results indicate a moderate relation between early teen marijuana use and young adult abuse of other illicit substances; however, this association fades from statistical significance with adjustments for stress and life-course variables. Likewise, our findings show that any causal influence of teen marijuana use on other illicit substance use is contingent upon employment status and is short-term, subsiding entirely by the age of 21. In light of these findings, we urge U.S. drug control policymakers to consider stress and life-course approaches in their pursuit of solutions to the “drug problem.””

Sum it all up: The environment you grow up in, stressors from without and within, and a rebellious personality determines Marijuana or drug use. Marijuana use does not determine other substance use.

Consider also that because Marijuana is illegal, some sellers also sell other drugs, which makes more profit than Marijuana. Some people would be prone to try chemical drugs, thinking if they liked Marijuana they’d probably like cocaine or heroin as well. The unregulated seller will happily meet the demand.

It would seem the logical conclusion would be to regulate Marijuana like alcohol. In a legal, controlled environment, where the seller is under legal protection and obligation to sell a legal, quality product at a reasonable price, contact with true drugs of abuse would be minimized.