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 Claim: Pot is a gateway drug

Two new studies show marijuana is not
a 'gateway' to harder drugs

Dec. 15, 2006 - Chicago Sun-Times

There is a slight correlation between cannabis use and other drugs. The World Health Organization rejects the gateway theory and suggests that correlation is the result of prohibition creating a black market where consumers are exposed to many illegal drugs in addition to cannabis.

A more prudent analysis of general drug use indicates that cannabis is a terminus drug. According the the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse in 1997, less than 1% of people who have used cannabis are regular users of cocaine and even fewer are regular users of heroin.

In order to promote the goal of reducing hard drug use, it would be effective to separate the hard and soft drug markets. This has been the policy in the Netherlands where there is easy access to cannabis sales at 'coffee shops' throughout the country. It's important to note that The Netherlands has lower rates of heroin and cannabis use compared to the USA where harsh sanctions have not produced a positive effect.

Comparitive Drug Statistics:

Gateway Theory sources:

- Response submitted by Bob Martin

From the book "Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts" by Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D. and John P. Morgan, M.D.:
Myth: Marijuana leads to harder drugs (the "gateway theory").
Fact #1: Over 70 million people have tried marijuana. Most marijuana users never use any other illegal drug. Indeed, for the vast majority of people, marijuana is the last drug they try, not a "gateway" to other drugs. If it were a gateway drug and if it were so addictive, we would have more than 3 million heroin and cocaine addicts in the U.S.

Fact #2: Marijuana is the most popular illegal drug in the United States today. Therefore, people who have used less popular drugs such as heroin, cocaine and LSD are likely to have also tried marijuana.

From "Exposing Marijuana Myths: A Review of the Scientific Evidence" by Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D. and John P. Morgan, M.D.:
CLAIM #13: Marijuana Is A "Gateway" To The Use Of Other Drugs
"In short, there is no inevitable relationship between the use of marijuana and other drugs. This fact is supported by data from other countries. In the
Netherlands, for example, although marijuana prevalence among young people increased during the past decade, cocaine use decreased - and remains
considerably lower than in the United States. Whereas approximately 16% of youthful marijuana users in the U.S. have tried cocaine, the comparable figure
for Dutch youth is 1.8 percent. 85 Indeed, the Dutch policy of allowing marijuana to be purchased openly in government-regulated "coffee shops" was
designed specifically to separate young marijuana users from illegal markets where heroin and cocaine are sold."
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Excerpt from a LTE by Robert Sharpe:

Separating the hard and soft drug markets is critical. As long as marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime, consumers will continue to come into contact with sellers of hard drugs like cocaine. This "gateway" is the direct result of a flawed policy.