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Monday, February 14, 2011

Four Reasons Why the Gate-way Drug Argument Fails

Probably the second most popular argument against legalizing marijuana - after the oh-so-popular and equally fallacious What-about-the-poor-defenseless-children argument - is that marijuana is a gateway drug.  You start out toking joints and pretty soon you're sucking cock in a truck-stop mens room to support your meth habit.  There are a few different reasons I can think of off the top of my head why this argument is patently absurd which I will now innumerate:

1.) Marijuana is the most widely available illegal drug.
The more widely available a drug is, the more likely people are to use it and it's fairly easy to get your hands on some weed.  Even if you live in a small town, you should be able to find a good 10 people who've got it, but even if you live in a big city, you've gotta do some asking around to find anyone who's got coke or heroin.  Yeah, you can find hard drugs (again, IF you're in a big enough town), but it's significantly easier to find weed. 

2.) Most people aren't that interested in trying harder drugs.  
I'm pretty confident I speak for most of the marijuana-smoking community when I say that I'm not interested in trying heroin, cocaine, meth, crack; basically anything that comes in a white powder.  These would all be things to avoid.  The anecdotes I read or hear about involving those drugs don't tend to end well.  Most of us have seen too many "VH1: Behind the Music" episodes where some band member got addicted to some heavy stuff and died or broke up the band to try any of that shit ourselves. According to a 2007 Zogby poll, 99% of us wouldn't use hard drugs if we could.

3.)  Why does the "slippery slope" start with weed?
Prohibitionists point out that most of the people currently in rehab for hard drug addiction started smoking weed first.  In Latin, this is known as the "Ad hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy.  Just because A happened before B doesn't mean A caused B.  Just because someone smoked weed before they started smoking crack doesn't mean the weed wasn't enough for them.  First, while I've never had crack and never will, I'm pretty sure there's a world of difference between the high caused by weed and the high caused by crack, but more importantly, why does the slippery slope start at weed?  What about alcohol?  I'm willing to bet those same people in rehab for hard drug addiction started drinking alcohol before they ever smoked weed.  Why isn't alcohol the gateway drug?  Or coffee?  Coffee is a stimulant that puts you in an altered state of consciousness.  Why isn't coffee a gateway drug?  I bet a lot of those people in rehab trying to kick heroin started with a cup of Folgers in the morning.  I guess prohibitionists must figure that weed is the top of the slope because it's illegal, which further shows the kind of intellect we're dealing with.

4.) If marijuana were a gateway drug, and if it was as addictive as prohibitionists claim, one would expect to see a corresponding rise in the use of hard drugs along with the growing popularity of marijuana, but no such rise exists.  
While marijuana has been and remains popular, hard drugs remain significantly less so.  Most people who smoke pot DON'T go on to use hard drugs.  Statistics like these consistently show that the number of people who use hard drugs is always a FRACTION (usually a SMALL fraction) of the number of people who smoke pot.

Seriously, does anyone really buy the gateway argument anymore?