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Letter: Cannabis as ‘gateway drug’ is an erroneous description

A recent letter promoted the debunked theory that cannabis is a “gateway drug.” No study has found a causal relationship between cannabis use and other drugs.

Dr. Denise Kandel, credited with creating the gateway theory in the 1970s, reviewed her initial research and concluded that if there is a gateway drug, it is likely nicotine. Recent studies suggest that where cannabis is available legally, use of legal and illegal drugs is reduced. Federal agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration and National Institute on Drug Abuse have ceased asserting the gateway theory as fact.

One error of field observers, including some in law enforcement and public health, has been failure to consider legal, although more addictive, substances as potential gateways. Did they ask addiction sufferers if they had ever had a cigarette, a beer, or a cola?

The adage that all addicts start with pot only serves as evidence of first exposure to the illegal market. Starbucks doesn’t sell heroin. A goal of a reasonably regulated market is to allow access to a popular product without access to others, thereby crippling their potential market.

The theory that cannabis is a gateway to other drugs is flat earth science. As Gov. Andrew Cuomo has learned, it only diminishes the credibility of those who promote it.

Jamie Leaver


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