Folks who have a hang-up about federally legalizing marijuana have long claimed that cannabis is a gateway drug. They believe that taking tokes can lead to hard drugs like cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and eventual addiction.

This theory came about in the 1970s and was further emphasized during the War on Drugs which targeted people of color for mass incarceration.

But a new study published in 2023 helps to debunk this false narrative and shows marijuana is not a gateway drug. Which most rational people have long known.

2023 Study Reveals Marijuana Is Not a Gateway Drug

Data from two decades-long studies didn’t find any support for a great many of the harms people fear with legalization. The study was conducted at The University of Colorado and The University of Minnesota and looked at over 4,000 twins. 40% lived in Colorado where marijuana was legal and 60% in Minnesota where it was illegal.

The study exposed that when a state legalizes weed, it doesn’t lead to adults using other substances. It also didn’t increase the incidence of substance abuse. Quite the opposite. They found that alcohol-related problems decreased in states where marijuana was legal.

How the Study Was Conducted

Using twins ensured controls for a wide range of variables, including age, early home life, genetic inheritance, and social background.

The study measured for alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and illicit substance use. They also factored in mental health. To make it more interesting, the study was conducted both before 2014, when Colorado first opened dispensaries, and after 2014 when they were in full flush.

The majority of subjects in the study were low-level users and legalization did no correlate with an increased use of other substances or even cannabis itself. There was also found no connection between legalization and an increase in psychological, social, cognitive, financial, or relationship problems.

It seems that family history and mental health disorders are far bigger risk factors than the legalization and availability of cannabis. (In other words, cannabis is not hard to get – even in illegal states.)

We should note, though, that the study was somewhat limited. 92% of participants were white, had low levels of substance abuse, and minimal rates of psychosocial dysfunction.

Even So, This Study Is Important

Yeah, the idea of cannabis as a gateway drug is already going the way of the dinosaurs. But the more studies like these can occur, the better chance we’ll finally lift federal prohibition.

And once that happens, there will be increased regulation and product testing to ensure that cannabis is safe for everyone. The same cannot be said for the illicit market.

Finally, legalization will enable continued and more elaborate studies on THC potency, consumption patterns, and dosage to give us more knowledge on this amazing plant. And as they say, knowledge is power.

Is Your Cannabis Business Thriving?

Eventually, perhaps everyone will be able to embrace that marijuana is not a gateway drug.

In the meantime, whatever challenges your cannabis business is facing, marketing/public relations shouldn’t be one of them.

Contact us today to find out how our cannabis marketing expertise can take you to the next level.