Whether from parents, teachers, or peers, surely you’ve heard the claim that marijuana is a gateway drug. And yet, so few people have the evidence to back it up. It’s become one of those phrases people say to try to veer you away from weed without providing the whole truth with the utmost accuracy. So, we took matters into our own hands and did some research on the matter. Is it true — is marijuana a gateway drug? Let’s see what the experts have to say.
The Gateway Drug Theory
Firstly, we must define what it means to be a “gateway drug.” Some believe that regular cannabis use can lead to curiosity and interest in harder, more life-threatening drugs, such as cocaine, ecstasy/MDMA, and opioids. Once experimentation with marijuana gets old to a user, they may move on to other drugs. This is a rather crucial viewpoint to discuss as 2016 brought in 2.6 million new marijuana users, according to Psychology Today. With so many lives on the line, it’s worth getting to the bottom of this heated debate.
According To Researchers…
It almost breaks our hearts to say this, but according to research findings on Psychology Today and the New York Times, marijuana leans more to the “gateway drug” side than we expected. You must be surprised, too. This first example focused on marijuana’s relation to opioid addiction. “It used a large dataset from a well-established national survey that was conducted between 2001 and 2005,” according to Psychology Today, “The overall results suggested that marijuana use actually significantly and substantially increased the odds that a person would misuse opioid medication after using marijuana.”
Even though we can’t ignore these findings altogether, they date back to 2005, so it’s not exactly the most relevant evidence. An article in the New York Times, however, published in 2016, also claims that cannabis users are “three times more likely” to abuse heroin at some point in their lives. “This does not mean that everyone who uses marijuana will transition to using heroin or other drugs, but it does mean that people who use marijuana also consume more, not less, legal and illegal drugs than do people who do not use marijuana.”
Other Factors to Consider
As expected, the answer to the gateway drug theory boils down to multiple other factors. It’s never that simple, is it? Whether or not a person smokes marijuana is not enough to determine future drug use. We also have to look at
- Neighborhood/community environment
- Level of parental supervision
- Level of education
- Biology/life experience of a user
- A user’s perspective on marijuana
That last bullet point is especially crucial. If a person enjoys cannabis, they are more likely to enjoy “harder” drugs. If a person consumes marijuana for medical purposes only and doesn’t find as much pleasure in it, they’re less likely to reach for other drugs.
Marijuana, Drugs, and the Black Market
We’re all in support of marijuana legalization here at Pacific Seed Bank. These law changes would likely prevent users from coming into contact with drug dealers and the black market. Think of it this way — on Monday, a drug dealer sells you marijuana. Now you’re a customer. By Friday, that dealer could attempt to sell you harder drugs as a way to make more money. Buying cannabis through a safe and reputable dispensary, on the other hand, eliminates that opportunity. It’s more likely for a consumer to get sucked into “harder” drugs through an illegal dealer.
The Final Takeaway
As mentioned above, research suggests that marijuana poses as a gateway drug. Users who are open to weed are (generally) more open to drug use in general. However, many other factors come into play as well, such as neighborhood conditions, education, and parental supervision. If weed is something you’d like to try, we recommend going through a legal dispensary or seed bank to purchase high-quality products at a safe location. This further explains why federal marijuana legalization needs to happen.
As it turns out, maybe our parents and teachers weren’t lying to us when they said marijuana was a gateway drug. What do you think about today’s research findings?