Marijuana Legalization Might be Fix to Nation’s Opioid Problems

Article by Paul Armentano, The Hill

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Proponents of marijuana prohibition have long alleged that experimentation with pot acts as a “gateway” to the use and eventual abuse of other illicit substances. But the results of a just released national poll finds that most Americans no longer believe this claim to be true.

According to survey data compiled by YouGov.com, fewer than one in three US citizens agree with the statement, “the use of marijuana leads to the use of hard drugs.” Among those respondents under the age of 65, fewer than one in four agree.

Their skepticism is well warranted. In fact, science has long discredited gateway theory. More than two decades ago, the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine reported “there is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other drugs.”

More recently, Rand Corporation issued a report titled “Reassessing the Marijuana Gateway Effect.” The report affirmed that “marijuana has no causal influence over hard drug initiation.” And the authors of the report concluded:

“While the gateway theory has enjoyed popular acceptance, scientists have always had their doubts. Our study shows that these doubts are justified.”

Moreover, despite the recent rise in the adult use of marijuana in past years, nationwide use of most other illicit substances, particularly cocaine, has fallen dramatically. Further, surveys of cannabis consumers residing in jurisdictions where the plant is legally accessible find that respondents typically report decreasing their use of other drugs, such as alcohol and prescription opiates.

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