Weed: Gateway Drug No More

Marijuana users across the nation are saying, “I told you so!” over the comments made by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Lynch admitted that the drug’s reputation as a “gateway drug,” or a drug that opened up the gate toward other harder drugs for individuals, has been “overstated” in the debate against drug use across the nation. While there has been some research in the past indicating that pot is a drug that helps people become more comfortable with drug use and therefore open to trying other drugs, the reality is that today prescription drugs present the most danger.

Lynch spoke at a Kentucky high school as a part of Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week and told students that it is these types of hard drugs to be most worried about. Politicians are still calling the drug a “gateway drug” even while research has proven otherwise.

According to Newsweek, “The gateway theory argues that because heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine users often used marijuana before graduating to harder drugs, it must be a “gateway” to harder drug use. The theory implies that there is a causal mechanism that biologically sensitizes drug users, making them more willing to try—and more desirous of—harder drugs. Yet the gateway hypothesis doesn’t make sense to those who use marijuana or have used in the past. Research shows that the vast majority of marijuana users do not go on to use hard drugs. Most stop using after entering the adult social world of family and work.”

In other worse, correlation does not provide causation. For example, just because ten people happened to visit France and suffered a house fire later in life does not mean that visiting France caused their homes to catch fire. Furthermore, Newsweek went on to describe several factors that can often lead to drug use later in life that people do not focus on, such as associating with other drug users, living in poverty, and having mental illness. Prohibition and criminalization have also been proven to serve as “gateways” that lead to further drug use.

By now, many people know about Henry Anslinger and the beginning of the War on Drugs. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics began its fear mongering tactics in 1937 and many of the erroneous assumptions and false information that started during that time period remain ingrained into our culture to this day. Scientists were paid to confirm that marijuana was indeed a gateway drug in faulty studies in order to help support the War on Drugs. 

Now that the Internet has opened the minds of people across the nation to the truth behind these fear campaigns, racist tactics and general misinformation spread about marijuana, many more states are working towards legalization. In fact, marijuana stocks are soaring with people anticipating the possibility of marijuana becoming legal in many more states soon. During the 2016 elections, nine states will be voting on the issue, and even more are likely to follow suit. 

Sources:

http://www.ibtimes.com/marijuana-addictive-gateway-drug-obamas-attorney-general-explains-cause-opioid-heroin-2420049

https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-loretta-e-lynch-delivers-remarks-press-availability-prescription-opioid

http://www.newsweek.com/marijuana-not-gateway-drug-325358

http://www.businessinsider.com/weed-otc-stocks-rally-ahead-of-election-2016-10