Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug? What Science Says.

Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?

Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?  Here is What Science Says.

Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?

For years, we’ve been told that marijuana is a “gateway drug” – that using it would likely lead down a slippery slope of harder and harder drug use.

However, in recent years researchers have done dozens of studies that have found no correlation between marijuana use leading to harder drug use. Though science continues to dispel these “gateway drug” myths, it doesn’t stop many people from trying to use it as a reason to oppose legalization.

So!  Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?  Here is What Science Says


The sad truth is many people still believe the “gateway drug” theory.

After decades of programs like D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) that followed the War on Drugs, people were conditioned to believe that marijuana use could lead to more dangerous substances.  What most people don’t keep up with is new science news and they might not be aware that science and data are disproving the theory.

Research challenging the marijuana “gateway drug” claim dates back as early as 2002 to a RAND Corporation Drug Policy Research Center report. After examining the drug use patterns reported by more than 58,000 U.S. residents between the ages of 12 and 25 who participated in the National Household Surveys on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) conducted between 1982 and 1994, researchers found:

Data supporting claims that marijuana is a gateway drug also support the alternative explanation: that it is not marijuana use at all but rather an individuals’ opportunities and unique propensities to use drugs in general that determine their risk of initiating hard drugs.


These days, even the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) knows that the gateway theory is flawed.  NIDA states that the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, “harder” substances.

Also, cross-sensitization is not unique to marijuana. Alcohol and nicotine also prime the brain for a heightened response to other drugs and are, like marijuana, also typically used before a person progresses to other, more harmful substances.

The NIDA says that rather than marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco being “gateway drugs” it is simply that they are more easily obtained by those who are more vulnerable to hard drug abuse. They also point out that you must consider additional factors when it comes to someone’s likelihood of using harder drugs – like their social environment and their interactions with those who use harder drugs.


Not only have studies spanning decades disproved the gateway drug theory, but recent studies also suggest that marijuana might reduce the use of more harmful substances like tobacco, alcohol, and opioids.

One study found that alcohol sales dropped 15% in states where medical marijuana was legalized. Similarly, many patients with chronic pain have reduced and, in some cases, entirely stopped their use of opioid painkillers in favor of medical marijuana. Additionally, studies have found that CBD can help people successfully quit smoking tobacco.

There’s a new trend floating around calling cannabis an “exit drug” based on studies like these! There is a growing amount of evidence that suggests cannabis use could help fight addictions and reduce the use of harmful substances. On the other hand, there is diminishing evidence that its use has anything to do with your chances of trying harder drugs like heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine.


Whether you suffer from chronic pain, depression, PTSD or a number of other qualifying conditions, medical marijuana could be the thing that works. Especially if you’re trying to reduce your reliance on opiates or other prescription medication!

If you’d like to learn more about medical marijuana, please reach out to us today. CalmEffect also has a team of certified medical marijuana doctors who are prepared to answer any questions you might have! CONTACT US to get your medical marijuana card and start your journey to your best life today.

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