Marijuana: Gateway or Innocent Bystander?

If you explore the Internet for information about gateway drugs, the seemingly innocent things people use that can lead to more potent things being used in the future, you could probably read for days on end and find corroboration and contradiction almost on an equal level so far as cannabis (Marijuana) is concerned.  That is not surprising since there are at least two schools of thought.  Those who favor legalization of Marijuana see little or no correlation.  Those who don’t favor legalization see a sometimes convincing string of “evidence”.

For example, there is a writing titled “Marijuana as a Gateway Drug: The Myth That Will Not Die” by Maia Szalavitz from 10/29/2010.  It cites a New York Times piece by Nick Kristof, who is characterized as favoring marijuana legalization, and quotes him as saying:

I have no illusions about drugs.  One of my childhood friends in Yamhill, Ore., pretty much squandered his life by dabbling with Marijuana in ninth grade and then moving on to stronger stuff.  And yes, there’s some risk that legalization would make such dabbling more common.

Szalavitz follows that with this paragraph:

The idea that Marijuana may be the first step in a longer career of drug use seems plausible at first: when addicts tell their histories, many begin with a story about Marijuana.  And there’s a strong correlation between Marijuana use and other drug use: a person who smokes Marijuana is more than 104 times more likely to use Cocaine than a person who never tries pot, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse”

A bit later there is the admission that since Marijuana use typically precedes rather than follows the initiation of other illicit drug use, it is indeed a “gateway” drug.

At the risk of being offensive, this sounds like the prattle of someone who might be a consumer and was using when this was written.  Just my uneducated opinion, but…

I believe that anything tried that is found at the beginning (in terms of potency) of the continuum in that family of ‘things’ to be tried is likely to lead to problems somewhere down the road.  There simply is the urge to just try a stronger brand of cigarettes just to see what they are like.  There is the urge as a beer drinker to just try whiskey to see what that is like.  Is there not, then, an urge to just try a hard drug if you are a user of Marijuana “just to see what it is like”?

We try to make sense of things that, to a user of even the more innocent drugs such as Marijuana, make no sense after using for some time.  They are either rendered incapable of deeper thought or simply refuse to think that could ever happen to them.  We are dealing with the world of ‘slippery slopes’, and slippery slopes, no matter the variety, beg sliding down a long hill to whatever lies at the bottom.  Some manage to claw their way back to the top of that slope, but many are unable to do so.

The idea that there will be no bad side to Marijuana legalization simply defies logic.  Residents of the states in which Marijuana is legal are “treated” to the impact of bus loads of users who are there simply to “get high” and “stay high” while they’re on their little sabbatical.  This is no different than living on the same street where all the bars are and expecting not to be impacted by your surroundings.

It is interesting that there seem to be quite a few deep thinkers who have found their way to ‘weed’ and who think it a marvelous experience that others ought to be able to enjoy, as well.

We know that there are those who see Marijuana as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  They are profiting and will continue to profit from this legalization of Marijuana.  Medical Marijuana use is one thing, but it’s not so distant ‘kissin’ cousin’ is fraught with issues that threaten to have a significant and adverse impact for years and years to come.

This is a gateway drug. Period.  I may be seen by some as ignorant to make such a claim, but I am not stupid.  This is a gateway drug.  Medicinal use under a Doctor’s order is one thing, but the recreational use issue is fraught with problems.  Once those problems have been permitted to get out of the bag, they will be insidious forever.

I think back to the days of the teetotalers and the bootleggers.  There might’ve been some kind of middle ground to be found through regulation of taverns, etc. but once this gateway drug is out of the bag…and it certainly is…there will be real problems of abuse that will lead elsewhere


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