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Cannabis and the “Gateway Effect”

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A central tenant of reefer madness is that cannabis has a “gateway effect,” meaning that if you ever start using cannabis (even once, remember the madness) you have passed through a gate leading to who knows what unspeakable horrors.  As with all of Harry J’s lies, this one does not do well upon a rational examination or if you ask for evidence.  But the issue lives on, and it does open some new and interesting thoughts.  Join me, won’t you?
Let’s start with cigarettes, legal, available and, not so long ago, hanging lit from every lip. Don’t believe me? Watch any movie from the 1940′s. But here’s a scientist suggesting . . . .

New research to be presented Sunday, May 5, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington, DC, supports the theory that cigarettes are a gateway drug to marijuana. “Contrary to what we would expect, we also found that students who smoked both tobacco and marijuana were more likely to smoke more tobacco than those who smoked only tobacco,” said study author Megan Moreno, MD, MSEd, MPH, FAAP, an investigator at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington.

Results showed that prior to entering college, 33 percent of the 315 participants reported lifetime tobacco use, and 43 percent of lifetime users were current users. In addition, tobacco users were more likely to have used marijuana than those who did not use tobacco.
By the end of their freshman year, 66 percent of participants who reported tobacco use prior to entering college remained current users with an average of 34 tobacco episodes per month. Of these, 53 percent reported concurrent marijuana use. Overall, users of both substances averaged significantly more tobacco episodes per month than current users of tobacco only (42 vs. 24).

Read the original for yourself HERE.

Now, from this work we find a link to more “Gateway” discussion. Here’s something that might be new to you — it was to me.

Whether teenagers who smoked pot will use other illicit drugs as young adults has more to do with life factors such as employment status and stress, according to the new research. In fact, the strongest predictor of whether someone will use other illicit drugs is their race/ethnicity, not whether they ever used marijuana . . . “In light of these findings, we urge U.S. drug control policymakers to consider stress and life-course approaches in their pursuit of solutions to the ‘drug problem,’ [researchers say] . . . The researchers found that young adults who did not graduate from high school or attend college were more likely to have used marijuana as teenagers and other illicit substances in young adulthood. In addition, those who used marijuana as teenagers and were unemployed following high school were more likely to use other illicit drugs. However, the association between teenage marijuana use and other illicit drug abuse by young adults fades once stresses, such as unemployment, diminish. “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,” Van Gundy says.

In addition, once young adults reach age 21, the gateway effect subsides entirely. “While marijuana use may serve as a gateway to other illicit drug use in adolescence, our results indicate that the effect may be short-lived, subsiding by age 21. Interestingly, age emerges as a protective status above and beyond the other life statuses and conditions considered here. We find that respondents ‘age out’ of marijuana’s gateway effect regardless of early teen stress exposure or education, work, or family statuses,” the researchers say. The researchers found that the strongest predictor of other illicit drug use appears to be race-ethnicity, not prior use of marijuana. Non-Hispanic whites show the greatest odds of other illicit substance use, followed by Hispanics, and then by African Americans.

The original post is HERE.

This second bit of information comports well with life experience. Most people who experiment with cannabis do not make it a regular part of their life forever. That sure makes the “later employment opportunities” stand out. Fortunately it did not impact, in a negative way, either our current or immediate past U.S. President. Whew! Dodged a bullet there, yes?

[image: Google images gateway]

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