Is Weed Really A Gateway Drug?

Why not break our lack of content with a nice controversial topic. As always I try to remain as neutral as possible, but like to analyze the important points of each side of the argument. 

The idea that marijuana is a “gateway drug” is a controversial one, and there is much debate about whether this is true or not. However, there are several reasons why some argue that weed is not a gateway drug: 


  • Correlation vs. Causation: Just because people who use marijuana are more likely to use other drugs does not necessarily mean that marijuana use causes people to use other drugs. There could be other factors at play, such as the fact that people who are more likely to use drugs in general are also more likely to use marijuana. Or the factors below.


  • Availability: Marijuana is one of the most widely available drugs, which means that people who use it are often exposed to other drugs as well. This could explain why marijuana users are more likely to try other drugs.


  • Social Environment: People who use marijuana often do so in social settings, which can increase the likelihood that they will be exposed to other drugs. This doesn’t necessarily mean that marijuana is causing people to try other drugs, but rather that the social setting is more of an influence. As always peer-pressure can have a strong influence especially in younger adults.


  • Individual Differences: People who use marijuana and go on to use other drugs may come from completely different backgrounds. They may have underlying issues such as trauma or mental health problems that contribute to drug use, rather than the marijuana itself. 


While there is data to suggest that cannabis use can increase the likelihood of trying other drugs later in life, there are so many factors at play to truly determine. Depending on the legality in your area would you group trying marijuana with trying alcohol for the first time in terms of whether or not it occurs under the legal age? Do we consider ethanol a gateway drug? I can definitely see the argument for both sides but ultimately this topic will probably remain a matter of personal opinion.

Be sure to check out the article in the references for great information on recent academic studies surrounding this topic.

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‘Gateway drug’ no more: Study shows legalizing recreational cannabis does not increase substance abuse | CU Boulder Today | University of Colorado Boulder

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