Lately, we’ve been seeing somewhat of a resurgence of the myth that cannabis is a gateway drug. This argument is primarily being made by opponents of legal cannabis (whose numbers seem to be getting smaller everyday). Attorney General and noted cannabis opponent Jeff Sessions has been using a variation on this argument by making the claim that cannabis leads to violence. It’s time to settle this once and for all: cannabis is not a gateway drug.
If you’re not familiar with the gateway drug argument, it simply argues that cannabis use leads to use of hard drugs like meth, cocaine and heroin. There is no real evidence to support this, but cannabis opponents keep using it regardless. The gateway drug argument originally appeared in the early days of cannabis prohibition as a way to demonize cannabis, which until then had been a staple in most American’s medicine cabinets. The argument lived on through the eighties with Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign, and then into the nineties with the DARE program. Finally, states began to legalize cannabis and the naysayers were proven wrong. In fact, opiate abuse rates seemed to do the opposite. Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch admitted last year that cannabis is not a gateway drug.
So, let’s look at all the mounting evidence showing that cannabis is not a gateway drug. First, there’s this report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). It simply states that while some people who use cannabis are likely to also have an alcohol problem, the majority of cannabis users do not go on to use hard drugs. It sounds more like alcohol is the gateway drug. This research from Barry Wiley, focusing on the behavior of teenagers showed consistently that alcohol, being easier to access and less demonized than cannabis, is the real gateway drug.
There’s another drug to consider in the gateway drug argument, and that drug is prescription opiates. It is a well known fact that people who use prescription pills often become addicted and end up graduating to heroin. Recent surveys of pain patients who use pills have shown that these people prefer cannabis and are using cannabis to get themselves off of the pills. That sounds kind of like the opposite of a gateway drug.
Cannabis is not a gateway drug. It’s a plant that makes many people’s lives more enjoyable, and in some cases liveable. People who still say cannabis is a gateway drug are usually saying it to further some kind of nefarious agenda. Don’t let them.
Image Source: Newsweek
How have you refuted the gateway drug argument? What do you think is the real gateway drug? Are there multiple gateway drugs? Share below!