While studies on drug use show that almost every single person, 99% of all illicit drug users have tried marijuana before they did any other drugs, this does not mean marijuana is a gateway drug.
It just so happens that 99% of these so-called illicit drug users could have also tried coffee, soft drinks, candy, or milk before moving on to harsher substances. By this same definition, caffeine could be referred to as a gateway drug.
A trove of studies over decades has shown that marijuana is not a gateway drug which leads people to partake in other more dangerous drugs like crack, meth, and fentanyl. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
Regardless of these facts, illogical and fear-based reefer madness still grips the minds of dinosaur politicians and law enforcement. But perhaps some new data from a study by scientists at the University of Washington can help to change their minds.
The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health earlier this month, looked at “six annual waves of cross-sectional survey data,” analyzing data from 12,694 adults.
Researchers looked at young adults between the ages of 18 to 25 to assess the use of cannabis and trends of using alcohol, nicotine, and pain medication. What they found was promising, to say the least, and paints marijuana in the opposite light of a gateway drug. In fact, it may be a "reverse gateway drug."
“Contrary to concerns about spillover effects, implementation of legalized non-medical cannabis coincided with decreases in alcohol and cigarette use and pain reliever misuse,” the researchers said.
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“Our findings add to evidence that the legalization of non-medical cannabis has not led to dramatic increases in the use of alcohol, cigarettes, and non-prescribed opioids. … The findings indicate that the most critical public health concerns surrounding cannabis legalization and the evolution of legalized cannabis markets may be specific to cannabis use and related consequences,” it continued.
“Real-world data from legalization states disputes longstanding claims that cannabis is some sort of ‘gateway’ substance,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said in a blog post. “In fact, in many instances, cannabis regulation is associated with the decreased use of other substances, including many prescription medications.”
According to researchers, they did observe an increase in e-cigarette usage among this age group but pointed out that e-cig usage in this age group has gone up regardless of legal cannabis, so it may not be related at all.
This study echoes previous data which shows that cannabis can decrease addiction to multiple substances like opioids as well.
As Norml reported last year, a team of Israeli investigators affiliated with Tel Aviv University assessed the relationship between cannabis and opioids in a cohort of patients with non-cancer specific chronic pain. All of the patients enrolled in the study were prescribed medical cannabis therapy in accordance with Israel’s medical cannabis access laws.
Among those patients who reported using opioids at baseline, 93 percent either “decreased or stopped [using] opioids following cannabis initiation.”
Given the fact that fentanyl overdose is now the leading cause of death among folks aged 18-45, studies like these are extremely important. Indeed, after years of propaganda, the tables are turning and rebranding cannabis as a reverse gateway drug will only expedite that process.
Those who go along with denying the evidence, while continuing to lock people in cages for a plant, will ultimately be judged by history. They will not be the heroes they claim to be now, however, they will be remembered as the ones responsible for mass incarceration, fostering the police state, and perpetuating the needless suffering of countless Americans.