Marijuana is not a Gateway Drug

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.

Researchers studied:

  • 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?

Researchers found:

  • 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


Author Dianne Morgan

More posts by Dianne Morgan

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Goran says:

    Nice article. when it comes to weed being a gateway drug, well I’ve never heard so much BS. The research that says it’s an exception rather than the rule a totally spot on. We all know alcohol does more damage than weed ever has or will. Nice little summarized article there.

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