“Mary Jane”: Not as Advertised


A cornerstone of U.S. drug policy has always been the Gateway Drug Theory. According to this theory drug usage can be measured on an ascending scale. Beginning with legal substances like alcohol and tobacco, users move onto drugs such as marijuana which can eventually open the door to harder more addictive substances such as cocaine and heroin. Yet despite almost six decades of government rhetoric and drug policy, studies show that this tidy model might not be all its cracked up to be.

In the closing months of last year the University of Pittsburgh published the findings of a twelve year study. The study tracked the drug usage patterns of a group of 214 boys between the ages of ten and twelve. At the end of the study it was found that almost one quarter of the population which had utilized drugs (both legal and illegal) did so in reverse, starting with marijuana and then proceeding to alcohol and cigarettes. It was also found that those individuals that followed this inverse structure were no more likely to develop a substance abuse problem than those that followed the traditional model. Dr. Ralph E. Tarter (the lead author of the study) went so far as to establish that, “the reverse pattern is just as accurate for predicting who might be at risk for developing a drug dependence disorder.” The study further established that most of those subjects which did utilize marijuana never moved on to a “harder drug”, effectively putting holes in this very widespread dogma.

~ by Alberto Ramos Cordero on October 29, 2007.

2 Responses to ““Mary Jane”: Not as Advertised”

  1. An interesting study that shoots holes in the gateway drug theory to which I have subscribed. This goes to show you that “common sense” isn’t always correct and that well-done research is perhaps the best way to prove or disprove a commonsensical perspective or hypothesis. Thank you for the relevant information!

  2. Your right, it may seem a bit counter-intuitive, but the results are what they are.

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