Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug
In today’s hectic world and busy work schedules, people are always on the lookout for possible ways to improve their overall physical and mental well being and to enhance their quality of life. A number of things can be done to achieve this such as an adjustment in one’s diet, increased physical activity, and exercise, taking different natural supplements or food items, and lessening unnecessary stress and unhealthy activities. People though need to also look out for items and products that may adversely affect their efforts to achieve better health and wellness. One such possible item is marijuana. But is marijuana really bad and can it eventually cause certain health issues? In this article, we will look at whether marijuana is a gateway drug.
Marijuana as a gateway drug: A Brief Introduction
Some people may view marijuana as a form of a soft drug that can do minimal or no harm to individuals. Others may say that marijuana is a dangerous form of the drug as people can get hooked on or addicted to it. Others still may be undecided as to whether or not marijuana is a dangerous drug as they may not have enough information or ideas on the effects and consequences of cannabis use.
People can breathe a sigh of relief though, as the so-called experts have differing opinions on the matter as well. Currently, numerous heated debates are being waged as to the benefits and potential hazards of marijuana use. The use of marijuana is particularly being questioned for the possibility of it being a gateway drug into more hardcore drugs such as heroin, coke or cocaine. Due to the growing number of cannabis users in the United States of America (USA), estimated to be around 2.6 million, this discussion about the positive and negative effects of marijuana is certainly something that we should get to the bottom of.
Medical marijuana is also effective in relieving pain. It is also suggested as an opioid substitute. This is due to the rising numbers of opioid overdoses, prescriptions, and deaths, it is being recommended as an opioid substitute.
To verify the feasibility of using marijuana as a substitute for opioids was thoroughly looked into by a recent study that checked the probability of patients overdosing on opioids after being prescribed medical marijuana.
The results showed that people who were already prescribed marijuana showed a significant increase in the probability of misusing and overdosing on opioids. The same study has since been used when referring and debating the possibility of marijuana as being a gateway drug to other “harder” forms of drugs.
Gateway Drug Theory: What is it?
According to the theory, marijuana is used as a form of gateway before people advance to using “harder” drugs like cocaine and opioids. There are two major assumptions behind this theory and these are that people experiment and that people conform to their respective social groups.
Experimentation happens when patients gain a tates of marijuana and may want to move on to try or taste other drugs. Conforming to social groups may be brought about by the user’s social circle or associates who, aside from marijuana, maybe using other forms of “heavier” drugs.
The Gateway theory further offers the assumption that people may start off with milder substances such as nicotine from cigarettes and alcohol from wine and liquor. Eventually, people may then move on to the use of prohibited drugs such as marijuana or cannabis and later on to heavier illegal substances such as cocaine. On the other hand, alternative theories have also presented evidence that people do not necessarily follow the above-mentioned pattern or progress.
Data is clear however, that people who have used marijuana have a five (5) to nine (9) times likelier chance of misusing opioids. There are other factors though that need to be considered before jumping into any conclusions on the use of marijuana and the possibility of it becoming a gateway drug. These other factors that seem to play a critical or significant role in marijuana becoming a gateway drug include the patient’s community or neighborhood environment, parental supervision and involvement, life experiences and biological makeup of individuals, initial exposure to cannabis and marijuana and how the patient perceives the level of “safety” or “harmfulness” of marijuana or cannabis.
Once these factors are all considered, the relationship between the use of marijuana and the possible misuse of opioids and other heavier drugs may be inconclusive and that there may be no correlation between the two.
What are the limitations of the gateway theory?
The gateway theory has one major limitation. The research did not consider illegal drug pushers or peddlers of marijuana collectively known as the drug black market. This simply means that people who are willing to purchase drugs illegally will most likely increase their chances of developing heavier drug addictions.
This may be the reason why people who are into alcohol and nicotine don’t necessarily more on buying illegal and heavier drugs. The environment of these substances has different policies that regulate them for people consuming alcohol. The move from legal regulation to the black market of drugs may be riskier and detrimental overall.
The legalization of marijuana to some States may make the gateway theory irrelevant. This is because people purchasing marijuana no longer have to go through any illegal process. Just like alcohol and nicotine users, the transition from legal to illegal activities may simply be too risky. This does not mean though, that Marijuana is already harmless. Marijuana should be regulated and its use closely monitored by medical partners and doctors of patients using them.