Gateway Theory Myth - Introduction and Rebuttal
Marijuana is not a "Gateway Drug"
Although marijuana may be the first illicit drug tried, it is not the gateway to drugs. The gateway to drugs is the distribution system which exists because of the current prohibition against drugs, which is otherwise known as the "War Against Drugs."
Just like the FDA is purposely ignoring research proving marijuana has medicinal benefits, so too are those propagandizing that marijuana is the gateway to drugs purposely ignoring research proving the distribution system is the gateway- not marijuana. The DEA, the Justice Department and all those anti-drug organizations have been lying for decades. The shame and pity of it is that they know their propaganda is a lie.
At the request of the FDA the Institute of Medicine issued a report in 1999 titled 'Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base'. The IOM stated, "There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs".
The Institute of Medicine's 1999 report on marijuana explains that marijuana has been mistaken for a gateway drug in the past because:
"Patterns in progression of drug use from adolescence to adulthood are strikingly regular. Because it is the most widely used illicit drug marijuana is predictably the first illicit drug most people encounter. Not surprisingly, most users of other illicit drugs have used marijuana first. In fact, most drug users begin with alcohol and nicotine before marijuana - usually before they are of legal age."
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association on cannabis and its possible role as a gateway drug found that, "While covariates differed between equations, early regular use of tobacco and alcohol emerged as the two factors most consistently associated with later illicit drug use and abuse/dependence."
This AMA report further states:
"Alternatively, experience with and subsequent access to cannabis use may provide individuals with access to other drugs as they come into contact with drug dealers. This argument provided a strong impetus for the Netherlands to effectively decriminalize cannabis use in an attempt to separate cannabis from the hard drug market. This strategy may have been partially successful as rates of cocaine use among those who have used cannabis are lower in the Netherlands than in the United States."
The AMA report published in Vol. 289 No. 4, January 22/29,2003 is titled 'Escalation of Drug Use in Early-Onset Cannabis Users vs Co-twin Controls.'
The World Health Organization has even joined in with its 1998 'WHO Project on Health Implications of Cannabis Use'. This report noted the effects of Prohibition when it stated that "exposure to other drugs when purchasing cannabis on the black market, increases the opportunity to use other illicit drugs."
There is absolutely no doubt the gateway is not marijuana. It is the distribution system. Two decades of false government propaganda has some people mistakenly still believing marijuana is the gateway to drugs. The gateway to drugs is Prohibition. And so long a party drugs remain a black market item it will remain easier to get hard core drugs than if said drugs where decriminalized and distributed through a system with government oversight. Decriminalizing marijuana will lead to less hard core drug use not because it is a gateway but because it will facilitate that in the same legislation be set up a means of getting marijuana removed from the black market.