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Is Cannabis a Gateway Drug?

Cannabis as a gateway drug:

For over 100 years, cannabis has been in the hot seat and many have been told to stay away from it. However, during this time it was also being used by people for tons of medicinal reasons just like it is today. Whether it was being used for pain or stress relief, to help with anxiety, relaxation, or even to just get a little high, marijuana became illegal in the United States in 1937 by the Marijuana Tax Act. It was looked at as being from the Devil and that once you used marijuana once, you would move on to more complex, more dangerous drugs. This is known as a “gateway drug”. Gateway drugs also include other substances like alcohol, tobacco, and prescription medications.

marijuana tax act

In the present time, researchers disagree on whether marijuana is truly a gateway drug or not. There is limited evidence that suggests that using marijuana increases the risk of going on to use other, harder drugs. Most people who use marijuana actually do not go on to use the other, harder drugs. The people who use marijuana and do go on to use other drugs (including alcohol and tobacco) may have a higher risk of dependence or addiction to those drugs, especially if they started using marijuana at an early age and use it frequently. Hard drug users usually don’t start with marijuana and just go for whatever is available. 39% of people with drug addiction started with a substance that was not cannabis. If the gateway hypothesis was true, it would be equally true for alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine which would mean that 90% of the population would eventually progress to heroin. Most cannabis and delta 8 THC users never go on to use harder drugs, and it is actually more likely to flip a coin and get heads 9 times than for cannabis users to use heroin after cannabis. People of any age, sex, or economic status can develop a substance use disorder for marijuana or other drugs. Factors such as having a family history of drug use, already having another mental health illness (such as anxiety or depression), peer pressure, loneliness, lack of family involvement, and how available the drugs are to them can affect the likelihood of substance use disorder. 

unique substances tried

The biggest problem with the gateway drug hypothesis is that it is primarily a scare tactic used to damage the credibility of cannabis in an attempt to keep people from using it. People see others using cannabis products living a productive and well-adapted life all the time, meaning that they can’t both be true. Next to no one who buys from our NJ cannabis dispensary will go on to move on and try out harder, dangerous drugs, and not every person who has a drug addiction is where they are due to cannabis.

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