The gateway theory may be a myth, but…

Maia Szalavitz looks at the gateway theory, pointing out that there is a relationship between marijuana use and other drug use but reminding us that correlation does not equal causality. I’m no advocate of the gateway theory, but it’s hard to see where a parent might take much comfort in this if their kid is smoking weed. Assuming that people who try cocaine have previously tried weed, (Doesn’t seem like a big leap.) her data would suggest that 27% of people who try weed try cocaine. (A number that surprised me.) Causal or not, this suggests to me that marijuana use constitutes cause for alarm for a parent. (This does not necessarily mean that prohibition is the solution.) That some research on a small European country has found slight decreases in migration from weed to other drugs doesn’t feel compelling–again, correlation is not causation.

The same day Maia’s post was published, I received a publication notification for an article whose conclusions state:

…heavy adolescent marijuana use may lead to drug and property crime and criminal justice system interactions, but not violent crime. The significant associations of early heavy marijuana use with school dropout and the progression to cocaine and/or heroin use only partially account for these findings. Results suggest that the prevention of heavy marijuana use among adolescents could potentially reduce the perpetration of drug and property crime in adulthood, as well as the burden on the criminal justice system, but would have little effect on violent crime.

This study’s subjects were urban, black kids and it focused on heavy marijuana use.

A complicated issue without easy answers.