Anti-legalization activists insist that marijuana use could pave the way for drug abuse. Not so, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Florida found that cigarettes and alcohol are the illicit substances that increase the risk of drug abuse, not cannabis.
For years, anti-legalization lobbyists fought against making medical marijuana available in all US states, demonizing the herb for its mind-altering effects while completely ignoring its health benefits. This study shows that marijuana is not contributing to the opioid crisis at all.
Researchers at the University of Florida have found that the theory of a “gateway drug” is not associated with marijuana – results from the Guttman scale indicated that alcohol represented the gateway drug, leading to the use of tobacco, marijuana, and other illicit substances. Furthermore, students who used alcohol “exhibited a significantly greater likelihood of using both licit and illicit drugs”.
In an interview with Raw Story, co-author Adam E. Barry said that his studies were intended to correct some of the propaganda that has infected American culture since the “Reefer Madness” era.
“Some of these earlier iterations needed to be fleshed out, that’s why we wanted to study this. The latest form of the gateway theory is that it begins with [cannabis] and moves on finally to what laypeople often call ‘harder drugs’. As you can see from the findings of our study, it confirmed this gateway hypothesis, but it follows progression from licit substances, specifically alcohol, and moves on to illicit substances,” Barry said. These findings walk hand-in-hand with a 2012 study from Yale that found that alcohol and cigarettes were much more likely than marijuana to precede opiate abuse.
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