Weed. Cannabis. Pot. The devil’s lettuce. Reefer. Grass.
The names for it are endless, as is the debate over whether or not it is a gateway drug. So what’s the truth about marijuana in relationship to other drugs? Is it a gateway drug?
Honestly, it depends on the person. Some people have addictive personalities, and are going to be more inclined to experiment with other drugs. Marijuana just so happens to be the most popular drug in the world, other than caffeine and tobacco, so naturally for people exploring the world of drugs, it is their first stop. Experimenting with marijuana is also, generally speaking, the crossroads where people either decide that they are satisfied with only trying marijuana, or experimenting with other substances. Depending on their experience with marijuana, and whether or not they have an addictive and curious personality, this is generally where people will draw a proverbial line in the sand, and not venture to other substances. For the budding and curious addict, however, this first experience with a substance that changes the way that they feel can be the first few warning drops of a levy about to break.
Marijuana gets a bad rap for being a gateway drug when in reality it’s just the most common drug that people try when experimenting with substances. Marijuana, especially these days, has become such a cultural phenomenon that trying it has not only become trendy, but almost a requirement for anyone who wants to say that they have lived a full life. Marijuana has evolved from a state of being completely shunned to becoming a pop culture staple in modern society, particularly in the United States and Europe. One does not have to look very hard to find marijuana being portrayed in the media all over the world, and usually in a positive light.
The only argument that seems to make any sense is that marijuana, being still illegal in many places, is a gateway to breaking the law. Sure we have all gotten a speeding ticket, but buying and smoking marijuana is not a civil infraction. In many states it is still a misdemeanor, and depending on how much you are caught with, it could be a felony. The decision to buy and consume marijuana is a conscious decision to break a law that you are fully aware of, and that makes breaking other laws, such as buying other, harder drugs more reasonable. It is also important to note that there is a potentially addictive rush when breaking the law, even for something as seemingly commonplace as buying and consuming marijuana, which makes the thrill of buying more serious drugs more enticing. When coupling the thrill of potentially getting caught and facing serious consequences with the obvious pleasure of using harder drugs, one can see how this can start to spiral downward.
Marijuana itself is not a gateway drug so much as it is a threshold of experimentation with the pleasure centers of the brain, and an experimentation with the thrill of breaking the law. As marijuana becomes legal on a wider scale, which it will, the stigma surrounding it as a gateway drug will probably diminish.