Gateway - Citations


National Institute of Justice: Is Cannabis a Gateway Drug?

COMMITMENT TO UNBIASED RESEARCH: "This report was conducted by the Federal Research Division (FRD) within the Library of Congress."

Marijuana: The Gateway Drug Myth: Psychology Today - August 26, 2014

Many people mistakenly believe that marijuana use precedes rather than follows the initiation of other illicit drug use. In fact, most drug use begins with alcohol and nicotine before marijuana, making nicotine and alcohol the two most common drugs of abuse. Evidence indicates marijuana is usually not the first substance abused before more dangerous illicit drug experimentation.

"When analyzing what acts as a “gateway” to hard drug use, there are a number of factors at play. None involve marijuana.
  • Poverty and poor social environment is a gateway to drugs, according to much research.
  • Association with people who use hard drugs is a better predictor of harder drug use. 
  • Certai
    When analyzinn mental illnesses, such as antisocial personality and bipolar disorder, are found to predispose some people to use drugs.
  • Other research notes that criminalization and prohibition are real gateways to harder drugs."

Washington’s Healthy Youth Survey's (HYS) data suggest that cannabis use among youths declined after legalization among 8th and 10th graders. The main difference is among 10th graders: the Monitoring The Future survey suggests a statistically significant increase while HYS suggests a decrease. 

"In human populations, cigarettes and alcohol generally serve as gateway drugs, which people use first before progressing to marijuana, cocaine or other illicit substances."

"If our findings in mice apply to humans, a decrease in smoking rates in young people could also lead to a decrease in cocaine addiction."

What America’s Users Spend on Illegal Drugs: 2000-2010, RAND Corporation

"From 2006 to 2010, the amount of marijuana consumed in the United States likely increased more than 30 percent, while the amount of cocaine consumed in the United States decreased by approximately 50 percent. These figures are consistent with supply-side indicators, such as seizures and production estimates. Methamphetamine consumption rose sharply from 2000 through the middle of the decade, and this was followed by a large decline through 2008. Heroin consumption remained fairly stable throughout the decade, although there is some evidence of an increase in the later years. For all of the drugs, total consumption and expenditures are driven by the minority of users who consume on 21 or more days each month."

"While many of the studies reviewed in this analysis did find statistically significant associations between cannabis use and one’s later use of other illicit drugs, there is not yet conclusive evidence to say that cannabis is a gateway drug, due to data limitations, failures to eliminate confounding variables, and questions about the applicability of findings from animal-based studies to human behavior."

The Effect of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries on Opioid- and Heroin-Overdose Mortality- Cato Institute

These estimates imply that 10 per 100,000 (8.5 percent) fewer opioid-related deaths would have occurred between 1999 and 2015 if states that legalized medical cannabis during this period had introduced dispensaries in all counties as soon as the MCL came into effect.