Many detractors from the use of marijuana cite as their many argument that it weed-smoking inevitably leads to the use of stronger substances. However, a new study from the University of New Hampshire suggests that the this so-called gateway effect is the exception rather than the rule.
- Number: 1,286
- Selection: randomly selected from a group of children, teens and young adults in public schools in the 1990s.
- Racial characteristics: 25% African American; 44% Hispanic; 30% non-Hispanic-white
Participants in the study were asked about substance use AND exposure to major events and traumas occurring before 13 years of age. Some of the questions asked were:
- Did you ever fail a grade at school?
- Did your parents ever divorce/separate?
- Were you regularly emotionally abused by one of your caretakers?
- Those more likely to have used marijuana as teens and other drugs as young adults didn’t graduate from high school or go to college
- Those who smoked pot as teens and were out of work after high school were more apt to use other drugs.
- If young adults became involved with other substances after using marijuana as teens, that link didn’t hold once the sources of stress, such as not working, went away.
- After the age of 21, the gateway effect seemed to disappear.
Study author, Karen Van Gundy said, “Employment in young adulthood can protect people by ‘closing’ the marijuana gateway, so over-criminalizing youth marijuana use might create more serious problems if it interferes with later employment opportunities.”
The full report can be found in this month’s (September) issue of Journal of Health and Social Behaviour