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Marijuana Is Not a Gateway Drug – Really?

by | Addiction, Alcohol and Drugs, Latest News, Life

Home Addiction Marijuana Is Not a Gateway Drug – Really?

marijuana-leafMost of us have sat through D.A.R.E. classes in elementary school or a variation of drug awareness programs over the years. Grandparents, teachers, mentors and the like have wagged their fingers and said “You know not to smoke pot! If someone offers you a hit, say no. It’s a gateway drug to other drugs.” According to new research published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, this may not necessarily be factual.
I have to say that I wouldn’t call up your old middle school health teacher with a snide remark just yet. The study was conducted based on 1,300 Hispanic, white and African-American young adults who attended south Florida public schools between 1990 and 2000. Van Gundy co-researched the group of students with Cesar J. Rebellon from the time they were in sixth or seventh grade up until they were in their early 20’s. Red flags about this study for me are: The study was done based on one school system, in one state, in one country, and with no control group. Also, how honest were the participants with their feedback about illicit drug use? Maybe they were honest when they reported that they enjoyed the occasional joint at their senior prom, but once cocaine and heroin were involved they drifted off the honesty bandwagon. I would be very skeptical about the validity of this study based simply on its premises, its thesis, its findings, and its widespread notoriety despite limited evidence.
According to the study, primary factors linking middle school students to illicit drug use included stress, whether or not they completed high school, and their status in terms of employment. Students who went on to hold full time jobs were less likely to walk “through the gateway” from marijuana to illicit drugs.
I understand the importance of keeping punitive and disciplinary measures commensurate with the discretion, so as not to create unnecessary discrimination for young adults who made mindless mistakes in their teen years, but on the other hand overemphasis of this study could create unwarranted loopholes for juveniles looking to engage in addictive behaviors. Teens who want to smoke pot could use this as leverage in their quest to prove their pot smoking is therapeutic, non-harmful, non-addictive, non-consequential, and/or non-addictive. I also worry that many people’s eyes will go straight to the title of this study and they’ll typically skip key details. Thus the content will be lost, and the convoluted message that pot smoking will never lead to other, dangerous drugs will be portrayed. Even moreso the reality that marijuana smoking throughout teen years may serve as a catalyst for potentially life-threatening drug addiction later in life may be trivialized.