Christians, Conservatives and Cannabis
Myth #3: Marijuana Is A Gateway Drug
This is a very commonly held misconception because many hard drug users also use marijuana. It seems like a simple correlation to make, especially if in your thinking, you lump marijuana into the same category as heroin, cocaine and meth. We’ve all heard this statement repeated thousands of times, but saying it often doesn’t make it true; it just makes it more believable to anyone who doesn’t take the time to do the research (which is why “they” keep saying it…)
It’s important to remember that correlation does not equal causation. Before most hard drug users started using marijuana, they used alcohol and tobacco (and coffee, and milk). But clearly most alcohol and tobacco users do not go on to become heroin or meth addicts.
Neither do most marijuana users. The vast majority of cannabis users do not use hard drugs, nor do they have any desire to do so. There is nothing in cannabis that would lead someone to want to use other drugs. But there is a connection that can be made, and it has to do with prohibition itself.
At some time in their lives, usually in their youth, many, if not most people, decide they want to try marijuana. Because marijuana is illegal in many states and remains so at the federal level, it can only be purchased on the black market from a drug dealer. Most drug dealers operate like any other business – they exist to make a profit. Additionally, some may be lacking in concern for the well being of their fellow man. Dealing in a variety of illicit and truly dangerous drugs allows them to maximize their profit potential.
Thus, the first invitation of a marijuana user to try harder drugs will often come from a dealer who is looking to fatten their wallet by introducing customers to something stronger and more “exciting”. One could reasonably conclude it is this opportunity that is the actual gateway to harder drugs – not marijuana itself, but a buyer being in the company of hard drugs within the black market, an opportunity which is wholly created and encouraged by prohibition.
Note that this does not happen in a legal, regulated, monitored environment like a medical cannabis dispensary, which provides valuable medicine to sick patients every day under the watchful eye of state regulators (much like a pharmacy). Dispensary owners have no desire to risk their livelihood selling hard drugs, which most would consider to be harmful to the clients that they genuinely care for. Therefore, rather than supporting prohibition, the facts actually make a strong argument against prohibition. No black market for cannabis means closing this door of opportunity.
Truth: Marijuana is a gateway, not to harder drugs, but often away from powerful prescription drugs, because patients find cannabis works better in the treatment of their symptoms, and without the undesirable and sometimes life-threatening side affects. Multiple scientific studies are confirming that cannabis is, in fact, a gateway to health.