For years, kids have been taught either by their parents or D.A.R.E. officers that no doubt about it, marijuana is a gateway drug. While it’s true that many studies on drug use show that 99% of illegal drug users have indeed tried cannabis before trying anything else, the claims that marijuana is a gateway drug are absolutely bogus, and here’s why.
Teen drinking is very bad
Researchers at Texas A&M and the University of Florida looked at data from 2,800 U.S. 12th grade students that were interviewed for the Monitoring the Future study, an annual federal survey of teen drug use that is designed to uncover which substances teens are more likely to use first.
If the name of their paper, “Prioritizing Alcohol Prevention: Establishing Alcohol as the Gateway Drug and Linking Age of First Drink With Illicit Drug Use” doesn’t give it away then let me make it more (ever)clear.
According to the results of this study, “the vast majority of respondents reported using alcohol prior to either tobacco or marijuana initiation.” While teen drinking has always been a major issue, just ask J-Kwon, it was never considered to be a “drug” much like marijuana has been.
Not only did they discover alcohol to be the leading culprit, they also found that among alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, teens were still not as likely to start smoking pot before using these other substances.
Blame it on the Goose
Teens start with alcohol because alcohol, for the most part, is much easier for them to get their hands on. Yet, researchers concluded an important aspect to this study was not what teens were using, but rather when they started using it. According to the researchers, “Overall, early onset substance initiation, whether that is alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs, exerts a powerful influence over future health risk behaviors.” That, of course, is just as important to the study as to what they are experimenting with in the first place.
But good news! Aside from alcohol being a teen’s drug of choice, a recent study has shown that drug use across all 12th-grade students, including cigarettes, alcohol, prescription opioid pain relievers, synthetic marijuana, and heroin has declined. So you know those annoying anti-smoking ads they keep playing on T.V. that kinda make you want to get up and dance? Those ads are actually working. Pretty cool, huh?
So now that we know that alcohol is the gateway drug amongst most teens, should we suddenly slap a ban on beer bottles in order to prevent early usage? Eh, not so much. It’s usually once you turn 21 that you suddenly lose all, if not most, interest in drinking alcohol and if the war on drugs has taught us anything, it’s that making substances illegal only increases their toxicity, increases crime rate and overdoses, and turns suffering addicts into criminals.
As a matter of fact, during prohibition in the early 1930s, researchers found that banning alcohol was only effective at decreasing consumption temporarily, and it wouldn’t be long until alcohol use would be back to normal.
Yet, even by making it clear that alcohol is a gateway drug, the war on drugs is still being fought, keeping marijuana illegal and maintaining the notion that alcohol and tobacco are a-okay. So next time someone tries to tell you that marijuana is a gateway drug- you tell them the only thing it’s a gateway to is a pantry filled with snacks.
Do you think alcohol is a gateway drug? Do you think alcohol is worse than cannabis? Let us know on social media or in the comments below.