Marijuana Gateway Risk Overblown: Study

A young woman smokes a joint outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. New research suggests use of marijuana as a teen is not a major factor in using hard drugs later in life.  (Jonathan Hayward)
Ethnicity, employment better predictors of hard drug use

Long-held fears that the use of marijuana will lead to harder drugs are overblown, according to new research from the University of New Hampshire.

The research, in the September issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, found that other factors, such as whether or not a person has a job, or is facing severe stress, are far more predictive of future hard drug use than whether they smoked pot as a teenager.

“Employment in young adulthood can protect people by closing the marijuana gateway, so over-criminalizing youth marijuana use might create more serious problems if it interferes with later employment opportunities,” said co-author Karen Van Gundy.