Science Proves Marijuana Is Not A Gateway Drug, And Never Was

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, America’s leading drug warrior, took another shot at his herbal enemy: Cannabis.


During a speech decrying the nation’s opioid addiction epidemic, Sessions displayed his reefer madness tendencies by claiming, “The DEA said that a huge percentage of the heroin addiction starts with prescriptions. That may be an exaggerated number; they had it as high as 80 percent,” Sessions said. “We think a lot of this is starting with marijuana and other drugs too.”

Wrong. Instead of saying “I think,” perhaps America’s top cop should say “I read.” The latest in a countless string of studies regarding the “Gateway Theory” was released earlier this week and it demonstrates that Sessions is out of touch with reality.

According to a paper published in the journal Drug And Alcohol Review:

Given the expansion of cannabis legalisation throughout North America, it is encouraging that cannabis use was associated with slower time to initiation of injection drug use in this cohort. This finding challenges the view of cannabis as a gateway substance that precipitates the progression to using harder and more addictive drugs.

Sessions, of course, is infamous for saying that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” so it’s pretty obvious he is not the most objective person on the subject. But it has been demonstrated over and over and over again that there is no empirical evidence that marijuana use causes harder drug use.

report by RAND’s Drug Policy Research Center explains:

The new DPRC research thus demonstrates that the phenomena supporting claims that marijuana is a gateway drug also support the alternative explanation: that it is not marijuana use but individuals’ opportunities and unique propensities to use drugs that determine their risk of initiating hard drugs.

Furthermore, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests marijuana actually reduces opioid use. Data has shown that medical marijuana legalization lowers the number of people misusing opioids.

According to Canadian brain researcher, Dr. Matthew Hill, “I’d say the whole idea of cannabis being a gateway drug is a debunked thing at this point. …I don’t think there’s any evidence to support that,” said Hill, who is an assistant professor at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Close

Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.