Marijuama as a Gateway Drug

In: Social Issues

Submitted By Staggart
Words 2222
Pages 9
Sociology 225
Research Paper

Marijuana as a Gateway Drug
The gateway theory is a hypothesis which states that the use of gateway drugs (alcohol, tobacco and marijuana) lead to the use of more illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), marijuana is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. “Schedule I drugs are classified as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.” Marijuana is thus considered by the U.S. government to be more dangerous than cocaine and opium - both Schedule II drugs, and at the same time a gateway to these harder and more addictive drugs. The government’s position is not only paradoxical, but should be a reason for debate as to the credibility of the gateway theory. A detailed look is warranted because of the magnitude it has on affecting U.S. drug policy.
According to the “Reassessing the marijuana gateway effect” article, there are three phenomena which represent the evidence for a marijuana gateway effect. The first is “the relative risk of hard drug initiation for adolescent marijuana users vs. non-users. In one U.S. study, the risk of drug progression for a marijuana user was 85 times that of a non-user” (Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse 1994). The figure makes apparent sense because as will be seen an individual who uses marijuana is further up the drug escalation ladder than a non-user.
The second is the hierarchy of drug use. It is assumed that alcohol precedes all other drugs giving rise to tobacco products, followed by marijuana and finally hard drugs. This is not to say that all users follow this building block approach, but the likelihood of an individual trying hard drugs before marijuana is…...

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