People who consume alcohol are more likely to turn to hard drugs than those who consume cannabis.

You're more likely to turn out like this fella through using alcohol rather than cannabis. Photo: MattysFlicks

You’re more likely to turn out like this fella through using alcohol rather than cannabis. Photo: MattysFlicks

An oft-trotted out reason for keeping cannabis illegal is that it’s a gateway drug ? using it makes people more likely to take harder drugs such as heroin. The US 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which surveyed 55,000 people over three years, is one more piece of evidence that alcohol is worse. True, 60 percent of stoners later partake of harder drugs, but the figure for alcohol users is 88 percent. One possible reason for alcohol serving as a gateway drug is that those inclined to take it are more likely to resort to other drugs due to their personalities.

Why is cannabis a gateway drug at all?

The sizeable proportion of cannabis users who find themselves on this slippery slope can be explained by the illegality of the drug: folk purchase it from parties who sell worse drugs. As it was put by Miriam Boeri, a sociology professor chez Bentley University, cannabis is no gateway to worse drugs just like an appetiser is no gateway to an entree: ?one comes before the other, but you’re eating both because you’re already at the restaurant.? Marijuana and Medicine, published by the Institute of Medicine in 1999, stated that this was the primary reason for usage of cannabis leading to consumption of worse drugs.


Marijuana is also less likely to impair driving and lead to an accident than alcohol. The perils of alcohol are very well known indeed, but a study published in the American Journal of Addictions in 2009 found only a marginal reduction in driving ability after using cannabis, based on evidence from a driving simulator. Colorado legalised cannabis for recreational purposes two years ago, after which traffic fatalities approached a historic low.

A really bad drug

If you’re looking for a really bad drug, there’s tobacco, which kills more people than all other drugs, including alcohol, combined: 480,000 a year in the United States, sayeth the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol is the next deadliest, terminating 29,001. Prescription drugs snuffed out 22,767 lives. The US National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that heroin kills more than 8,000 and cocaine around 5,000. Cannabis kills nobody. President Obama is a tobaccoic ? a tobacco addict.

Chris Christie talks shit

Failed Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie, the governor of Noo Joizee, was fond of declaring cannabis to be a gateway drug: ?Every bit of objective data tells us that it’s a gateway drug to other drugs.? Most scientific research actually found the opposite. Christie quit the race for the GOP presidential nomination after coming sixth in the New Hampshire primary, where his campaign had concentrated its efforts. His showing was so poor he might have gone unselected for the next Republican debate. And then there was that business with the bridge. So Christie is generally perceived to be fulloshit, and rightly so. Most Usonians (a better term than ?Americans?) disagree with him over this point, with the General Social Survey, regarded as the gold standard for public opinion research and used as a model by other countries, finding 52 percent supported the legalisation of cannabis, compared to 19 percent in 1974 (this survey has monitored US drug attitudes for more than 40 years).

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