I want to emphasize again that I have never smoked marijuana despite spending about six years in college in the late 60's and early 70's. I may have inhaled a little second-hand smoke a time or two. This was strictly a personal choice.
But I did say back in the 80's that I thought the stuff should be legalized with the same restrictions as alcohol.
I did some research about marijuana...and there has been a lot of scientific research on it in the last few years. I won't repeat much of it. It's all there on the internet for you to find and read if you are so inclined. The very general upshot is that it's not a good thing for pre-adults to use. Duh! No difference from tobacco or alcohol on that score.
Some people that use marijuana go on to use harder drugs like cocaine or heroin. But less than 50%
Some people that use tobacco or alcohol also go on to use harder drugs. As far as the "gateway drug" label is concerned, marijuana is no more so than the legal tobacco and alcohol, and is less harmful. In fact marijuana and/or its many extracts have great health benefits the the other two can't.
However, I want to examine briefly the original "research" that classified marijuana as a "gateway drug."
Here's an analogy: A law enforcement officer interviews dozens of incarcerated felons who have been convicted of motorcycle-related crimes. These are the Hell's Angels and other "outlaw" motorcycle gangs. He asks them a series of questions regarding their personal histories and discovers that over 80% of all these "motorcycle hoodlums" rode big wheels when they were younger. So, he publishes his findings: Big wheels are a gateway to motorcycle-related criminal behavior.
Would anybody buy that? I hope not. The obvious flaw is that the "researcher" never interviewed non-motorcycle users to see if they also rode big wheels as children. Plus, of course, as a law enforcement officer, he almost certainly has a pre-existing bias. He expects criminal behavior.
And that is exactly what was done in the research that branded marijuana as a "gateway drug.
A law enforcement officer interviewed a large number of incarcerated individuals that were doing time because of hard drug use. One of the questions he asked was if they had used marijuana prior to using hard drugs. Over 75% said they had.
Bingo!! Obviously marijuana use leads to the use of hard drugs! It's a gateway drug!
He never interviewed people that had used marijuana and did not use any drugs "harder" than that. The "research" was clearly bogus. Yet, the label has stuck.
Current research indicates that about 44% of people that use marijuana move on to use a harder illegal drug at least once. But! The research does not differentiate between other characteristics of the users—such things as education, economic status, use of alcohol and nicotine in addition to marijuana, and even such things as parental drug use.
Here's a biggie: In states where medicinal marijuana is available, deaths from opioid overdoses have declined significantly. Stack that up against the various arguments against legalization of at least medicinal uses.
Next time I'll get back to writing.