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The ‘Gateway Drug’ is Alcohol, Not Marijuana


In a research conducted at the University of Florida, it was found that the theory of a “gateway drug” is not associated with marijuana. Alcohol represented the gateway drug, leading to the use of tobacco, marijuana, and other illicit substances, according to the results from the Guttman scale. Moreover, students who used alcohol “exhibited a significantly greater likelihood of using both licit and illicit drugs”.

Adam E. Barry, a co-author of the study, said that his studies aimed to correct some propaganda that has infected American culture since the “Reefer Madness” era. In his interview with the Raw Story, he said that:

“Some of these earlier iterations needed to be fleshed out, that’s why we wanted to study this. The latest form of the gateway theory is that it begins with [cannabis] and moves on finally to what laypeople often call ‘harder drugs’. As you can see from the findings of our study, it confirmed this gateway hypothesis, but it follows progression from licit substances, specifically alcohol, and moves on to illicit substances.”

These findings support a 2012 study from Yale wherein it was found that alcohol and cigarettes were much more likely than marijuana to precede opiate abuse.

For the study, a nationally representative sample of high school seniors was taken. Researchers evaluated data collected through the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey, wherein trends of drug use were tracked among youths in the U.S. The study focused on the data gathered from 14,577 high school seniors from 120 public and private schools in the United States.

Researchers compared the substance abuse rate between drinkers and non-drinkers. Results revealed that seniors in high school who had consumed alcohol at least once in their lives “were 16 times more likely to use marijuana and other narcotics, 13 times more likely to use cigarettes, and 13 times more likely to use cocaine”.

Alcohol showed to be the most commonly used substance in the sample of the students. There was an approximately 72.2% of students reporting alcohol consumption at some point in their lifetime, 45% reported using tobacco, and 43.3 percent cited marijuana use.

Based on the results of the study, it was concluded that:

“The findings from this investigation support that alcohol should receive primary attention in school-based substance abuse prevention programming, as the use of other substances could be impacted by delaying or preventing alcohol use. Therefore, it seems prudent for school and public health officials to focus prevention efforts, policies, and monies, on addressing adolescent alcohol use.”

On an earlier study, scientist found that the therapeutic healing herb cannabis may possibly reduce brain damage caused by alcohol. The chemical component of marijuana, called cannabidiol could be used to treat alcohol-induced neurodegeneration. This was according to a 2013 study from the University of Kentucky and the University of Maryland.

Findings of the study led the authors to a conclusion that ‘illegal’ marijuana is far and away the safest ‘legal’ drug. Furthermore, they agreed that weed is 114 times less deadly than alcohol.


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