Dutch Marijuana Study Shows the Gateway Theory is a Lie
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 09/19/2011 in Medical Marijuana Laws
Marijuana opponents love to trot out the old gateway theory myth, that marijuana leads to harder drug use, when talking about cannabis legalization as if it was some unquestionable truism. When the counter-argument is made that there is no actual research to support this, they will often claim that a large-scale test of the theory, such as the implementation of a legal marijuana market, is simply much too dangerous to risk.
Thankfully, other nations have seen it fit to conduct such experiments and the large amount of data gathered from this points to the same conclusions that have long been confirmed by observation. The Netherlands are famous for their relatively unrestricted marijuana marketplace, where the technically illegal substance is still sold all across the country in its famed cannabis coffee shops. Now, new research by UC Berkeley professor Robert MacCoun is giving us rather conclusive proof that the widespread availability of marijuana has no noticeable effects on the use of other substances.
MacCoun’s key findings are that “cannabis consumption in the Netherlands is lower than would be expected in an unrestricted market” and that “the coffeeshops do not appear to encourage escalation into heavier use or lengthier using careers.” Indeed, even marijuana use itself has not ballooned to some ungodly levels as the anti-marijuana crowd would like us to believe; “scatterplot analyses suggest that Dutch patterns of use are very typical for Europe,” says MacCoun.
Marijuana use did see an escalation in a period of time between 1984 and 1996, when the age for first trying pot as well as use among 18-20 year olds rose significantly. However, this did not lead to any noticeably negative effects on society and today the Dutch use their freely available cannabis as lower rates than people in in the US do, despite risking arrest and prosecution.
This research adds to to the, quite frankly glaringly obvious, reality that neither California nor Colorado -with their laissez faire attitude towards medical marijuana, have gone to down in flames. Cities like Oakland and L.A. are famed for having marijuana dispensaries on almost every other corner and yet life there goes on just fine and hard drug use has seen absolutely no correlation with the rise in the availably of marijuana. Maybe we all can, regardless of our stance on the actual use of marijuana, finally put to rest the ridiculous “gateway” idea. It has never been supported by research and was essentially made up out of whole cloth by the architects of the War on Drugs.
… Oh, who am I kidding? The prohibitionists have their heads so far down into the sand that scientific evidence has sadly lost all meaning for them. Society just needs to do what it always has, leave the fools behind in the dust of history.