Final debunk of cannabis as a gateway drug

Final debunk of cannabis as a gateway drug
Miguel Antonio Ordoñez

Aside from cannabis consumers using nothing but the herb itself, there's other evidence concluding, that cannabis is not a gateway drug.

Despite the fact, that the herb is becoming legal all across the globe, some critics still believe, that weed brings about the desire to try harder drugs. Although the plant is known for being a safe substance, this still isn't enough to beat the argument, that marijuana leads us to more harmful drugs like cocaine and heroin. But why? Time for a debunk.

For the most part, many addicts begin their stories with cannabis. Whether they are addicted to prescription painkillers or other drugs, their journey to addiction often starts with using the herb first. According to the National Insititute on Drug Abuse, a person who consumes cannabis is more likely to use cocaine than a person who has never tried weed.[1] That may be true for some. However, it's certainly not accurate enough to be considered a fact. Moreover, the argument shouldn't speak for cannabis users as a whole.


Two factors contribute to the theory, that cannabis is a gateway drug. One of those factors, in particular, is feeling. All in all, people turn to drugs to feel good. Obviously, a naturally curious lover of mind-altering substances is going to want to try more than one kind of drug. The same goes for people who enjoy movies. Although you may prefer comedies over horror or vice versa, you're not going to watch one movie for the rest of your life. On the contrary, you're going to branch out and watch as many movies as you please.

Does this mean, that movies are a gateway to more "inappropriate" movies? No. Rather, it's all about personal choice. Cannabis isn't going to tap you on the shoulder and tell you to try a harder drug.

The second factor is the reality, that cannabis is still illegal in many states/countries. Because of this fact, people assume, that if some one can score some bud illegally, they can get their hands on anything. Although this may be true for some, again, it doesn't speak for everyone. In general, some dealers sell more than weed. If you remain a loyal customer, many will offer you a little extra. It's called business, illegal or not. But again, it's entirely up to the person as to whether or not they want more. Despite the belief, that legalizing the herb will lead people to harder drugs, it's proven the opposite.

Take Holland, for example. As a result of loosening restrictions on cannabis, the country now has fewer young cannabis consumers, that migrate to more harmful substances. In fact, their numbers remain lower than other nations, including the U.S. According to a 2010 Rand Institute report, there is evidence, that the Netherlands have a "weakened gateway". Moreover, the data concludes, that it can “clearly challenge any claim, that the Dutch have strengthened the gateway to hard drug use”.[2]


Aside from living and breathing cannabis consumers using nothing but the herb itself, there's other evidence concluding, that cannabis is not a gateway drug.

One of the first studies to smash the gateway theory was performed by a team of scientists from the New York Academy of Medicine. Not only is it the most comprehensive of studies, but it's also the most far-reaching cannabis fact-finding mission since the Indian Hemp Drug Commission published its monumental study, which happened roughly 50 years prior. Specifically, it found that “the use of marijuana does not lead to morphine or heroin or cocaine addiction. The instances are extremely rare where the habit of marihuana smoking is associated with addiction to these narcotics.”[3]

Furthermore, in 1972, President Richard Nixon elected a panel of politicians and leading addiction scholars to study federal policy concerning cannabis. Directed by late Pennsylvania governor Raymond P. Schafer, the commission put together a study involving 105 middle-class California cannabis smokers to review weed's potential to be a gateway drug. As a result, they found that “incidence of other drug use was relatively low, [even among] frequent marijuana users”.[4]

These are just two example, though. Aside from these two studies, a simple google search will take you to other studies, that can reason, that cannabis is not a gateway drug. Although there are also studies, such as the Gilman Study, that reveal cannabis as a gateway to harmful substances, many of them have their flaws. Still, the researchers, that can point out these flaws continue to be ignored.[5]


All in all, it's safe to say the argument, that cannabis is a gateway drug is bogus. Not only is there a substantial amount of evidence showing that using cannabis doesn't lead to using more harmful substances, but there's also confirmation, that weed has many health benefits.

Furthermore, it's evident, that it all boils down to personal choice. Therefore, it's not fair to say, that all cannabis users will eventually try drugs like cocaine and heroin. Moreover, the herb is becoming legal all across the globe for a reason. Obviously, its potential is far more apparent than the theory, that it will make the world become strung out on all sorts of drugs.

Instead of focusing on cannabis as a gateway, it's time to research more ways to help people battle an addiction to drugs that destroy them, rather than put the blame on one single substance. Especially a safe substance, that is known for its medicinal benefits among other things.


  1. ^ National Institute on Drug Abuse, Is marijuana a gateway drug?, retrieved February-01-2017
  2. ^ Rand, What Can We Learn from the Dutch Cannabis Coffeeshop Experience? , retrieved February-01-2017
  3. ^ UKCIA, Marijuana And The Gateway Theory, retrieved February-01-2017
  4. ^ NORML, Nixon Commission Report Advising Decriminalization of Marijuana Celebrates 30th Anniversary, retrieved February-01-2017
  5. ^ Journal of Neuroscience, Cannabis Use Is Quantitatively Associated with Nucleus Accumbens and Amygdala Abnormalities in Young Adult Recreational Users, retrieved February-01-2017

Miguel Antonio Ordoñez
Miguel Antonio Ordoñez

Miguel Ordoñez is a long-time writer by trade. Utilizing his AB Mass Media and Communications degree, he has 13 years of experience and counting. He’s covered a wide array of topics, with passion lying in combat sports, mental health, and of course, cannabis.