The Myth Of Gateway Drug — It This True?
Have you heard that old theory dating back to the Harry Anslinger era? It says that if you’re using cannabis, you’re at risk of taking harder drugs like cocaine and heroin in the future.
People keep telling this to anyone who has tried cannabis or mentioned it in the conversation. It’s a popular argument against ‘normalising’ marijuana use. However, the expansion of marijuana legalization in the US continues, and the question gets more attention. Let’s find out if cannabis is really a ‘gateway drug.’
Yes, It Is
The strongest evidence is presented by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). According to its reports, “early exposure to cannabinoids in adolescent rodents decreases the reactivity of brain dopamine reward centers later in adulthood.” NIDA adds that “to the extent that these findings generalize to humans, this could help explain the increased vulnerability for addiction to other substances of misuse later in life that most epidemiological studies have reported for people who begin marijuana use early in life.”
NIDA researchers also point out to the “cross-sensitization”: “[R]ats previously administered THC show heightened behavioral response not only when further exposed to THC but also when exposed to other drugs such as morphine.” However, NIDA notes that “cross-sensitization is not unique to marijuana. Alcohol and nicotine also prime the brain for a heightened response to other drugs and are, like marijuana, also typically used before a person progresses to other, more harmful substances.”
No, It Isn’t
Here go arguments why cannabis isn’t a gateway drug.
- Many humans who tried cannabis — and even consumed it on the daily basis — never ended up using cocaine and heroin. On the contrary, cannabis is reported to be a tool to help addicts get off heavy drugs (which is beneficial in fighting the opioid crisis in the country).
- Cannabis as a gateway drug is a theory that comes from the prohibition era, which required buying it through the illegal market, from the dealers who sold other drugs as well. In this case, the primary force driving marijuana users to heavy drugs is that illegal dealers selling them. The legal market destroys that connection.
- The array of scientific studies showed that the ‘gateway theory’ is implausible, or at least difficult to prove.
- Even D.A.R.E. and the federal government aren’t bothered with this theory anymore.
The Bottom Line
Everything points out that cannabis is not a ‘gateway drug.’ You won’t automatically get a needle in your arm when you buy weed. On the other hand, you may gain some weight from munchies. Consume responsibly and don’t forget to exercise.
(Sweedsy in no way encourages illegal activity and would like to remind its readers that marijuana usage continues to be an offense under Federal Law, regardless of state marijuana laws. To learn more, click here.)