Teenagers within the first two states to finish pot prohibition don’t seem any extra more likely to fall into tougher substances, in response to a brand new examine, rebuking legalization opponents who’ve lengthy contended that marijuana is a gateway drug.

The analysis, published in the March issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, examined information on “adolescents” (ages 12-17), “early rising adults” (18-20), and “late rising adults” (21-24) dwelling in Colorado and Washington, the place voters in 2012 handed measures legalizing leisure marijuana use for adults. 

“A public well being concern stemming from leisure marijuana legalization (RML) is the concept marijuana could act as a ‘gateway’ drug amongst youth and younger adults, the place rising marijuana use will result in rising substance use dysfunction (SUD) for ‘tougher’ illicit medication,” the authors of the examine wrote. “This examine investigates whether or not SUD remedy admissions for cocaine, opioids, and methamphetamines elevated following RML enactment in Colorado and Washington for adolescents and rising adults.” 

The researchers concluded that leisure marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington “was not related to a rise in adolescent or rising grownup SUD remedy admissions for opioids, cocaine, or methamphetamines” in contrast with charges of such substance use in different states the place marijuana legalization has not occurred.

“Future research ought to lengthen this analysis to different states, different substances, for older adults, and over longer time durations; and take into account how the results of drug insurance policies could differ throughout completely different jurisdictions,” the researchers, who’re based mostly at Temple College and the College of Tennessee, wrote of their conclusion.

A Flimsy Thought Main Governmental Insurance policies

The notion that marijuana is a “gateway drug” has lengthy been disputed, and has typically unraveled when topic to scrutiny. However that perception has lengthy formed authorities coverage. Whereas the Middle for Illness Management acknowledges that the “majority of people that use marijuana don’t go on to make use of different, ‘tougher’ substances,” it additionally insists that “[m]ore analysis is required to know if marijuana is a ‘gateway drug.’”

The authors of the brand new examine sought to fill that hole. 

“To the perfect of our data, that is the primary examine to analyze whether or not RML [recreational marijuana legalization] within the U.S. led to a rise in SUD [substance use disorder] remedy admissions [for] illicit medication aside from marijuana,” they wrote, as quoted by NORML. “We discovered that the legalization of leisure marijuana use in Colorado and Washington didn’t end in a rise in SUD remedy admissions for cocaine, opioids, or methamphetamines amongst adolescents or rising adults.”

NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano hailed the examine for placing at an oft-invoked argument levied in opposition to legalization advocates.

“This information additional undermines lengthy standing claims that marijuana acts as any kind of a ‘gateway’ to the abuse of different managed substances – an allegation that has, traditionally, largely guided prohibitionist-based marijuana insurance policies in the USA regardless of a scarcity of exhausting proof,” Armentano said in a statement on Friday.

Completely different analysis revealed late final yr might also assist assuage issues of fogeys involved about what legalization means for his or her teenaged youngsters. The examine, revealed in December by the Journal of Adolescent Well being, that legalizing marijuana use amongst adults does not result in a spike in use among teenagers.