“Gateway drug, a habit-forming drug that, while not itself addictive, may lead to the use of other addictive drugs.”
As you may have guessed by now, I have many contacts in the cannabis industry and from time to time we all get together and discuss some of the issues relevant in the industry today. “Marijuana as a gateway drug” is a topic that has come up time and time again as my colleagues from numerous brick and mortar cannabis shops, mail order marijuana stores as well as various online dispensaries in Canada have been posed this question from a number of their clients. So is it? As with any debate, there are many points of view and this is what we were able to agree on.
My friends from the various online marijuana dispensaries were the first to point out that most people who smoke marijuana often know people who use other drugs. This was backed up by owners of brick and mortar cannabis shops who often field inquiries from companions of instore customers seeking illicit drugs. Logically, if friends of marijuana users partake in other drugs then it is more than likely they would eventually dabble themselves. On the bright side however, my friends from the local stores, mail order marijuana outlets and online dispensaries in Canada also argued that with legalization, exposure to illegal drugs for those without such friends would have decreased as your average cannabis user would no longer be encouraged to try something “stronger” by the dealer on the street corner when purchasing their weed.
This is a very high-level generalization of course as each case differs from person to person. For example, someone with a very addictive personality may be inclined to try other types of drugs beyond cannabis, not because of cannabis, but because of the experience from it. My friends from the local stores, mail order marijuana outlets and online dispensaries in Canada also agreed that it is unlikely that casual weekend users are interested in opiates and only the hardcore users or those seeking extreme relief may end up looking for something more potent.
Like I said, these are just some of the findings that my colleagues from numerous brick and mortar cannabis shops, mail order marijuana outlets as well as various online dispensaries in Canada were tossing around during one of our get togethers and by no means are our observations backed by science. Exposure to opiates would normalize it and make the presence and experience less extreme, however, this does not necessarily mean someone would be inclined to try them. Individual personalities are a major factor as are frequency of cannabis use and reasons for moving beyond it. From what I can surmise, there are many arguments for “yes it is” as well as “no it is not”. Legitimate research is needed on the topic but one thing we all agreed on is that legalization and the ability to purchase cannabis from brick and mortar shops, mail order marijuana outlets as well as various online dispensaries in Canada goes a long way to decreasing exposure to opiates at the point of purchase which is a good start.