Tuesday, December 5, 2006
From post-gazette.com: Contrary to popular belief, smoking marijuana need not be a steppingstone between using alcohol and tobacco and experimenting with illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
Researchers led by Ralph E. Tarter, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Pharmacy, found that nearly a quarter of the young men they studied used marijuana before they began drinking or smoking cigarettes.
It's the reverse of what's known as the "gateway hypothesis," in which drug use is thought to progress from alcohol and tobacco to marijuana to hard drugs.
The researchers determined also that the likelihood of developing a substance abuse problem was similar in youngsters who followed the traditional gateway drug use pattern and those who followed the reverse pattern.
"This is actually quite novel, this idea," Dr. Tarter said. "It runs counter to about six decades of current drug policy in the country, where we believe that if we can't stop kids from using marijuana, then they're going to go on and become addicts to hard drugs."
But the data doesn't support that contention, he noted. The findings were published in this month's American Journal of Psychiatry. Rest of article. . . [Mark Godsey]