Home / #Solutions / First of Its Kind Study: Pot NOT a Gateway Drug, Can Treat Tobacco & Opioid Addiction

First of Its Kind Study: Pot NOT a Gateway Drug, Can Treat Tobacco & Opioid Addiction

In the latest of dozens of studies proving the healthful benefits of cannabis, researchers in Canada found not only can marijuana be effective in managing pain, but it can reduce a user’s dependency on tobacco, alcohol, and can replace a number of prescription medications — including antidepressants.

Weed, they also found, simply isn’t the “gateway drug” politicians and detractors have claimed it is for decades.

Published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, the study — comprised of 271 participants enrolled in Canada’s Marihuana for Medical Purposes program — is considered one of the first to evince how cannabis can help alleviate substance addiction.

“[T]his study is the first to specify the classes of prescription drugs for which cannabis is used as a substitute, and to match this substitution to specific diagnostic categories,” the study findings state.

Called the first comprehensive study of people enrolled in Canada’s medical marijuana program, researchers pointedly found cannabis does not act as a gateway drug — the primary premise of pot prohibition.

Indeed, weed has been targeted by so-called anti-drug groups for years as the gateway to harder and ostensively dangerous substances, facilely providing the impetus for politicians and officials to keep it pegged as a Schedule 1 drug — alongside heroin, cocaine, and LSD.

For the study to prove not only that isn’t true, but that cannabis can replace opioid painkillers and other pharmaceuticals — as well as alcohol and tobacco — makes it foundational, if not revolutionary.

“Cannabis is perceived to be an effective treatment for diverse conditions,” wrote lead researchers, Philippe Lucas from the University of Victoria and Zach Walsh from the University of British Columbia, “with pain and mental health the most prominent.”

Analyzing the 107 questions study participants answered online, concerning “demographics, patterns of use, and cannabis substitution effect,” researchers found a whopping 63 percent used weed in place of prescription medications — 30 percent of whom replaced pharmaceutical opioids with cannabis.

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Fully 16 percent turned to weed as an alternative to benzodiazepines — such as Xanax or Valium — for treating anxiety and insomnia, while 12 percent chose cannabis over antidepressants to relieve symptoms of depression.

One-quarter of participants had substituted cannabis for alcohol, and for 12 percent, weed was preferable to tobacco — three percent of respondents even replaced hard drugs with pot.

Essentially, the findings could be viewed by the pharmaceutical industry and prohibition-loving politicians as a threat to the wallet.

However, for-profit prisons, police, and attorneys likely will salivate at the telling detail that 42 percent of participants obtained their cannabis through unregulated or illegal channels.

Of course, that’s by design of the U.S.’ global war on drugs. Maintain cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug without medical benefit — despite mountains of solid scientific evidence to the contrary — and Big Pharma easily maintains a skyrocketing profit margin on opioid and other medications.

Backlogged court systems, overcrowded prisons, and extortive penalties levied through police complete the circle of pot prohibition profiteers.

“The findings that some authorized patients purchase cannabis from unregulated sources and that a significant percentage of patients were charged for medical cannabis recommendations highlight ongoing policy challenges for this federal program,” the study authors conclude.

High Times points out that “[a]s we’ve seen in the United States, keeping medical marijuana in an illegal status not only creates an unsafe scenario for the patients who obviously can benefit from it, but also results with a major revenue loss. Not to mention the health, law enforcement and social costs resulting from the opioid epidemic facing our country.”

Considering the findings from this breakthrough study and others proving the seemingly endless medical and psychological benefits of cannabis, those societal costs prove insignificant in the eyes of those who keep this miraculous plant highly illegal or difficult to obtain.

  • I just shared this on social media! I encourage everyone to do the same!

    Sad to say but my principle reaction to this article is anger that this is indeed a First of Its Kind Study! This is outrageous! Something with over 2,000 years of medical use,… that was standard in most every household medical cabinet in the 19th Century,… that has always been known to have far less deleterious effects than tobacco products,… has been so recklessly persecuted, in a supposedly free country, for no more reason than “I don’t smoke it. I don’t know anyone who does. I’ve been told that it’s bad stuff. Therefore it’s okay with me to throw people who smoke a god-given plant to government sponsored rape camps when this country never did this during alcohol prohibition,… and that, supposedly, required a Constitutional Amendment!”


  • Cannabis is the only thing that helps me with controlling my benzodiazepine addiction.

  • billdeserthills

    I tried smoking joints instead of cigarettes back in high school,
    musta smoked 13+ joints a day, and I still wanted a cigarette!

    • The Cat’s Vagina

      It just helps – it’s not a magical cure.

      • billdeserthills

        It may help some things, for others it is indeed a magical cure

    • crankyoldone

      I must disagree , when I was told I was pregnant I had just bought a carton of cigs and being the cheap bitch that I am I decided to smoke them then quit . I carried a joint around the house hardly ever taking a hit . When things got tough I would have a puff only to get the guilts and put the joint down . I am proud to say that was 30 years back and still have not smoked an another cig.

      • Vincent D’Emidio

        Have you smoked any more Herb?

  • The Cat’s Vagina

    The “gateway drug” claim is an obvious logic fail to anyone who examines it carefully. Someone apparently decided that since users of hard drugs typically start with marijuana, that must mean that anyone who uses marijuana is on their way to shooting heroin.

    The closest marijuana has ever actually come to being a “gateway drug” is the fact that most of the time, it has to be obtained from someone who also sells hard drugs and might recommend them. If you take marijuana sales out of the hands of “drug dealers,” you’d probably see a LOT fewer marijuana users trying anything else.

  • Vincent D’Emidio

    I’ve always known that the “Gateway”, ah, you should excuse the expression, ahem, “theory”, was BULL.

  • Mary Bausum

    Tell that to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

  • ThorosiousD

    Confirmation of what most people already know.