Pubdate: Fri, 29 Dec 2000
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: The Vancouver Sun 2000
Contact:  200 Granville Street, Ste.#1, Vancouver BC V6C 3N3
Fax: (604) 605-2323
Author: Matthew M. Elrod


I agree with letter writer Ken Lane that the press should take cannabis 
more seriously, (Pot is a 'gateway drug,' Dec. 27). Journalists cannot seem 
to resist making tiresome pot puns. However, Lane is quite mistaken about 
cannabis being a "gateway" to other "controlled" substances.

The World Health Organization's investigation into the gateway effect 
stated emphatically that the theory that cannabis use leads to heroin use 
is "the least likely of all hypotheses."

In March 1999, the Institute of Medicine concluded, "Whereas the stepping 
stone hypothesis presumes a predominantly physiological component of drug 
progression, the gateway theory is a social theory. The latter does not 
suggest that the pharmacological qualities of marijuana make it a risk 
factor for progression to other drug use. Instead, the legal status of 
marijuana makes it a gateway drug." In other words, the sociological 
correlation between cannabis and other illicit substances is a consequence 
of cannabis prohibition.

Further, studies conducted in American states and Australian territories 
that have decriminalized cannabis have found that cannabis is more often 
than not a substitute for other recreational substances, especially 
alcohol. Contrary to the now debunked gateway theory, researchers have 
found that when cannabis use goes up, other drug and alcohol use, overdose 
deaths, accidents and violence go down.

Matthew M. Elrod, Media Awareness Project, Victoria
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