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Study: Alcohol Is The Real Gateway Drug, Not Marijuana

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marijuana gateway drugBy Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

Alcohol is typically the first substance consumed by individuals who report polydrug use later in life, according to data published this month in The Journal of School Health.

Researchers from Texas A&M University and the University of Florida, Gainesville evaluated drug use patterns from a nationally representative sample of 2,835 12th graders.

Authors found that youth use of alcohol most often preceded the use of tobacco or marijuana. They also reported subjects’ age of alcohol initiation is the strongest predictor of later polydrug use.

“Alcohol is the most commonly used substance, and the majority of polysubstance using respondents consumed alcohol prior to tobacco or marijuana initiation,” they reported. “Respondents initiating alcohol use in sixth grade reported significantly greater lifetime illicit substance use and more frequent illicit substance use than those initiating alcohol use in ninth grade or later.”

They concluded, “Our results … assert that the earlier one initiates alcohol use, the more likely that they will engage in future illicit substance use.”

The findings are inconsistent with recent claims made by several prominent lawmakers that cannabis is a ‘gateway’ to later substance abuse.

Studies by conducted by the RAND Corporation and others have previously dismissed any alleged causal role of marijuana as a gateway to subsequent illicit drug abuse, finding, “There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other drugs.”

An abstract of the study, “Prioritizing Alcohol Prevention: Establishing Alcohol as the Gateway Drug and Linking Age of First Drink With Illicit Drug Use,” appears online here.

Source: NORML - make a donation

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  • HellNo

    Alcohol is also the most damaging drug to society. Every weekend jails are filled with obnoxious, violent drunks that did something really stupid while under the influence of alcohol. Marijuana just doesn’t cause the turmoil, violence, and stupidity that alcohol injects into peoples’ lives.

  • Closet Warrior

    HellNo is spot on, I know us reformists must wait for the science to prove the prohibitionists wrong once again before they believe but It’s hard to fathom the money and time spent proving something us smokers already knew from inception of our first high. What do we know-we’re just a bunch of burn outs, lol.

    • Cleanslate

      Actually the burden of proof is on the prohibitionists. Seventy years ago they declared cannabis guilty without a scintilla of credible evidence, unless the scientific testimony Dr. Munch in 1937 of injecting “marihuana” into the brains of hundreds of dogs resulted in the death of two of them is considered grounds for prohibition. Duh, its the hypodermic needle that did in the poor dogs.

      Later more “scientific” studies have amounted to no more than pseudo -scientific innuendo and baseless assertions of alleged harm. They are never going to find such evidence, including using the current craze of brain imaging to find abnormalities of brain structure and size and drawing the erroneous conclusion that cannabis damages a developing or mature brain.

      Cannabis has been used safely and very beneficially for millennia by countless millions of people. If it wasn’t it would not have been so widely used for so long and spread to every continent on Earth. Cannabis is innocent and only guilty of being a threat to the revenue streams of Big Pharma.

      • Closet Warrior

        You’re preachin to the choir

  • We have a child abuse epidemic in America. And NO ONE notices.

    • saynotohypocrisy

      I had a child abuser live near me once. He was ok, just a little obnoxious, when he used weed, but turned evil to his children when he used booze. He didn’t have much money, and the only drug he could much afford was booze. Do the alcohol supremacists want people to abuse their children? Making alcohol much cheaper than weed encourages domestic violence.

  • HellNo

    Alcohol Prohibition came about in response to the destructive nature of alcohol. However, making alcohol illegal didn’t stop people from drinking. Criminal organizations made enormous profits supplying booze, while violence and corruption came with them. Ultimately, prohibition was considered more destructive to society than legal booze.
    Sound familiar?

    • Fungi Sclerotia 1427

      Then “marihuana” became the “scapegoat” of alcohol
      after ITS prohibition was repealed…

      The problems that booze actually causes,
      were / still are being falsely-attributed to weed.

      • saynotohypocrisy

        Yep. Cannabis users are the designated scapegoats for the mayhem caused by alcohol.

      • The only article the haters use is the one that said pot use will drop your IQ by 8 points.

        There were only 12 people used in the study and 4 of them were alcoholics, the other 8 were casual to heavy drinkers. (look it up)

        Yeah, it must have been the one doobie a week that made them dumber, not the constant poisoning of alcohol.

        • Linda

          Yes I’m black cat between 3 siblings, but my sister has worked for the liberal party of Canada since she was 16. She is now almost 60 yrs. she does not injest any cannabis until she has guzzled 12 – 18 pilsners, then a quick 1 or 2 puffs and she is a more that mess.
          Barffing, Falling,Coughing can’t breathe, can’t undress herself, A Fucking Moron. And she says next day ” see what happens when I do that stuff ?”
          So. How does one get any common sense thrrough a thick head like that ?
          I appreciate any help and advice I receive
          Thanks

          • saynotohypocrisy

            Tell her to ask her doctor which they think is causing the problems? If she pays him any mind. Is there anyone whose opinion she cares about?

  • Bruce Phelps

    They need to get this right, marijuana doesn’t lead to harder drugs, alcohol does!!! And I am glad someone else see’s it too

  • Johnny Bloomington

    Gateway blah! The real Gateway is chocolate milk!

    • The real gateway is the box of wine or the 12 pack in the fridge next to the milk the children use every morning for their cereal.

      Why is it that we have to keep our herb under lock and key but we can leave booze out and readily available for children to get their hands on?

      Alcohol should be a schedule 1 drug, no medical use, HIGH chance for abuse and addiction and IT KILLS. Perfect description for schedule 1.

      • C Money

        Because prohibition works so well? Legalizing one thing and criminalizing another misses the point. Prohibition simply DOES NOT WORK.

  • Von

    I don’t believe in the gateway theory at all. Doesn’t matter if it’s sugar, Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, xyz whatever. Using one substance does not mean you will use another substance, other than the fact that you might be more open minded to try new things, but does that make it a gateway? I think it’s a personality type that is open to taking risks and trying new things, likewise I believe addiction can be tied into a certain personality type. I also think the perception of risk becomes attractive to many personalities, the so called forbidden fruit syndrome has more to do with things then we as a society would like to admit.

    • Denny

      That’s a well stated and logical overview.

    • Don Podlas

      Beautifully stated Von. I never was a drinker in high school. I started drinking and using cannabis in Viet Nam at the tender age of 18. The drinking became a huge problem. After I got out of the service in ’70 I began a 25 year drunk. I’m 67 now and I’ve be sober for a little over 20 years. I’ve always been curious to try new things, so I too was pre-disposed to addiction. Marijuana as a gateway drug, impossible. I never have understood that concept anyway. I’m happy to say that I currently live in the beautiful hills of Southern Oregon and have an abundance of wonderful, healing, life saving cannabis. I doubt seriously that I would be here today if it wasn’t for this miracle plant….Namaste, Don Podlas

  • actually, they can get along well together as evidenced by my 4th book, the forthcoming: Cannabis Cocktails. For years, Cannabis was prescribed as a clinically accepted part of healing. Years meaning many thousands. Way before our drug companies and neo-conservatives- wanting to “keep the blacks and hispanics down” type of politics made Cannabis, well- it made it public enemy #1. http://www.quartoknows.com/books/9781592337347/Cannabis-Cocktails-Mocktails-and-Tonics.html

  • saynotohypocrisy

    One more study the prohibs have to ignore. There’s been a lot of them lately. It’s very disappointing that they haven’t caused any defections among prominnent prohibs, those folks really seem impervious to reason. If it comes out that cannabis can help people fight cancer, that probably wouldn’t even make a difference to these degenerates.

  • I have read studies of prison inmates which also indicated that alcohol is much more of a gateway drug than marijuana. Simple common sense indicates as much as well – drunks are generally reckless and have lowered inhibitions and thus often try new drugs while drunk. It has been my observation that the bulk of marijuana users would never even consider using drugs.

    There is no patriotic reason for any regulations or prohibitions of the cannabis plant whatsoever. A considerable portion of the US tax dollars are used to actively push drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines on people. Some of this is through the wasted tax dollars that enforce regulations and prohibitions regarding the self provision of marijuana. Such activity artificially raises rates of alcohol consumption which of course helps the cia sell cocaine because drunks have no sense of judgement.

    I greatly anticipate the day when the school systems stop pushing alcoholism and coffee/ cocaine addiction and actually start putting children out into the world as well informed critical thinkers. The very same culturally bigotted drunks who enticed all of society to judge with hatred the usera of cannabis will have their children and grandchildren come to them with the truth about how alcoholic beverages are a gateway drug and how natural cannabis in a regulation/ prohibition free setting is not a gateway drug at all. Cannabis use will not be something associated with rebeliousness but with relaxation, tradition, and provision of healthy food. I have no doubt that more than a few drunks want desperately to stop the truth from coming so as to “save face” in the eyes of their decendants who they would rather force to live in a corrupt world of lies rather than admit to that they made a mistake by being drunks. One fact I celebrate is that the tipping point is here. The more desperately the biggoted culture of alcoholism lies the more obvious thier dishonest nature is. As far as their long term respectability is concerned the cannabis supressing drunks are now actively setting up their own destruction. I revel in spreading the truth about what a hindrance the biggoted culture of alcoholism has been. The trashy gang of hard drug addicts which alcoholics truly amount to would tend to act out in direct violent vengeance were they in the same position that those of us who sincerely reckognize the utility of the cannabis plant are in today. Of course they are not in the same situation and never have been and never will be. The holding back of the truth regarding cannabis and alcoholic beverages will only make the truth morw figuratively hard hitting when it finally settles in. It is only a matter of time.

    Before the hateful arabian mythologies were foisted upon the people of Europe, cannabis was used for food and herbally without conflict or corruption. While brewing of beverages was in practice, the beverages were non alcoholic. Catholic monks developed distilling and brewing beers as an extension of arabian distilling of alcoholic perfumes. So to be blunt it was all great untill some swarthy cologne soaked pathological liars came in and labelled a useful plant a sin and then proceeded to openly push a culture of the celebration of scapegoating and reckless drunkeness on the innovative and graceful yet unsuspecting of corruption indigenous Europeans. Such a true and unpropagandized version of history has survived through all of these centuries of cultural denigration even up to today when our true culture seems to be rising once again! Those who suppress cannabis in any way whatsoever and those who associate cannabis with unrespectable trashy rackets are not a representation of western culture but are a representation of the dishonest backward arabic invaders and thier sandy stone age culture.

    The leftist propaganda we know as national news never seems to make much fuss about all of the drunken arabian cult members who commit acts of violence while drunk in the liberal parts of town. They would rather shout loudly about how some shooting supposedly happened in which the shooter was against abortion or into cannabis or into alternative media outlets. It is a typical war on indigenous European culture being put forth by the national “news” which seeks to denigrate all European cultural traits and to push abortion and guilt on us. Would the drunks actually pretend that they were capable of making the decisions about who ought to have the ability to effectively hunt and posture themselves as able to defend their private property? Would the drunks actually think that their obvious slanders and reefer madness style propaganda would pass off as truth even to other drunks?