Magazine article Addiction Professional

No Lack of Opinions on Marijuana

Magazine article Addiction Professional

No Lack of Opinions on Marijuana

Article excerpt

I have consistently found that while alcohol remains the most pervasive substance affecting the individuals our readers serve, marijuana elicits the highest number of responses from readers when it is the subject of an editor's query, and the most impassioned replies as well.

Every two weeks on the Addiction Professional Web site ( we post a new poll question to elicit comments from field professionals. The largest response that we've recorded as of this writing followed this question we posted in late March: "Based on your experience in working with substance-dependent clients, do you consider marijuana to be a gateway drug?"

While more than 7 in 10 respondents stated that they consider marijuana a gateway to other substance use, a flurry of written comments accompanying the yes/no answers suggested a wide variety of interpretations on how marijuana use affects later substance-using patterns. Here are some comments from readers who firmly backed the gateway theory:

* "More than 75% of my clients had used marijuana prior to use of any [other] illicit drugs."

* "Marijuana ... is the most dangerous substance out there because it removes the inhibitions about hard drug use. It is the gateway drug and it alters the thinking of our impressionable young people."

* "I see many young people between the ages of 18 and 35 now addicted to opiates who began with marijuana. Marijuana is the one drug that addicts hesitate to give up. …

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