One of the difficult stigmas that plagues us after sixty years of Reefer Madness is the belief that cannabis is a gateway drug and leads to addiction and drug abuse of all kinds. It keeps us mired in myths especially when the government hides science and prohibits research.

Policies get flipped and changed all the time. Too many eggs lead to high cholesterol clogging our veins. Now we learn the cholesterol in eggs is good cholesterol needed by pregnant mothers to make hormones. Too much wine leads to alcoholism. Now a little red wine can be beneficial to a healthy heart.

The way to remove stigmas is to stand up to fear and prejudice by throwing knowledge and science in its face, boldly calling out peoples’ ignorance. Truth is ignored for many reasons, lack of exposure, family upbringing, religion, cultural influences, government policies and false media. There is less excuse for ignorance in the Internet world.

So this article is an attempt to blow holes in your belief that cannabis is a gateway drug. Science is my friend and hopefully will enlighten you. More than a quarter of the U.S. adult population is hooked on alcohol, cocaine, nicotine, amphetamines or some other substance.

An LA Times 2000 article explains how in 1990, a researcher first linked a gene called DRD2 later nicknamed the “pleasure-seeking” gene to severe alcoholism. UCLA studies of brain tissue showed that individuals with the “A1 variation” of the DRD2 gene have significantly fewer dopamine receptors in pleasure centers of the brain. (The same year an Israeli scientist discovered the endocannabinoid system).

There is evidence that the black market is the child of drug addiction in young adults. When the Harrison Act of 1914 started the national drug prohibition only one quarter of one percent (0.0025) were abusing drugs. In 1961 when the UN Conference on drug abuse added cannabis in its Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, what followed was a perfect storm for drug traffickers. Marijuana smokers were introduced to younger and younger Americans. The black market was able to ensure masses of genetically predisposed young people into a lifetime of addiction.

When the Israeli scientist Dr. Mechoulam, discovered the endocannabinoid system, which identified the “pleasure seeking” receptors as CB1, he created the link in our genetic makeup that requires persons with DRD2 variations to take phytocannbinoids to balance hemostasis. Much more research needs to be done on this if we ever declassify cannabis. There are some reputable studies that examined the effects of recreational use in states that legalized marijuana and showed reduced use of drugs, reduced crime and reduced auto accidents.

The April 2017 edition of Pain News Network reports that previous studies have found a significant decline in use of opioid medication by patients who use marijuana and that marijuana users are not at greater risk of alcohol and drug abuse. States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without cannabis laws.

A June 2015 study by the National Institute of Drug Abuse found that although alcohol “significantly increase lane departures/minimum and maximum lateral acceleration; these measures were not sensitive to cannabis. Drivers under the influence of marijuana “may attempt to drive more cautiously to compensate for impairing effects, whereas alcohol-influenced drivers often underestimate their impairment and take more risk.”

These facts are not to suggest that recreational drug use is without dangers. The black market in drugs has the same effect as prohibition on alcohol. Cannabis needs to be regulated just like any food, herb, or spice. Prohibition causes crime, violence and racism.

Education is the antidote to stigmas. Recreational users need to know that until the federal government legalizes cannabis the black market supports drug lords and terrorism. Medical cannabis is cultivated for specific uses not to create stoned individuals. However, there is no lethal dose of cannabis. That is a known fact worldwide. Draw your own conclusions but base them on facts not innuendo and fear. For more information on the impact of Prop. 64 visit Lanny Swerdlow at:

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