Opinion Brief

Marijuana: A gateway drug after all?

Obama's "drug czar" says pot is to blame for a surge in illicit drug use, but some disagree

Illegal drug use has risen to the highest level in nearly a decade, according to a federal government study released last week. The uptick in overall illicit drug use was "driven in large part by the use of marijuana" and a broadening public perception that the drug isn't harmful, the report says. "The results of the survey, to say the least, are very troubling," Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said at a press conference Thursday. Is marijuana really the gateway drug the government claims it to be? (Watch a CNN report about "marijuana ice cream")

The goverment gets it wrong again: It's not that marijuana is a gateway drug, says Joe Klare in The 420 Times. It's that "there are no jobs, bills are piling up, and everything costs too much," so people are turning to drugs to help "them feel good about life again." So don't believe the misinformation that people are "going on to harder drugs" — that's just the government's "spin.""Is marijuana to blame for increased drug use?"

Marijuana is harmful: Look, pot "is not like heroin," says Peter Delaney of the Center for Behavior Health Statistics and Quality at NPR, but that doesn't mean it's harmless. Young people who smoke marijuana might start cutting class, they might let their grades slip, or they might move on to a harder drug. So it's important to "counter the message" that "it's only pot." "Increased drug use fuels debate over legalization"

The statistics prove pot isn't a gateway drug: The only significant increase in drug use "came from the growing ranks of pot smokers," says John Cloud in Time. Cocaine use actually dropped, abuse of prescription drugs "has been flat since 2007," and even "the rate at which we use methamphetamine" has gone "unchanged." Aside from the fact that "smoking anything isn't good for your lungs," pot's only confirmed adverse effect is that it "can get you arrested.""Is drug use really on the rise?"

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