A new study completed by LiveStories confirms that marijuana isn’t a gateway drug. The study found that marijuana consumption increased in states where it was legalized for recreational use, but the use of other drugs didn’t increase.
“We haven’t found any strong correlation that suggests increased marijuana use leads to increases in other substance abuse,” LiveStories’ founder Adnan Mahmud told Westword. “We aren’t looking for causation. We’re looking for a correlation. And we didn’t find that was the case.”
Four marijuana states were examined closely–Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington—and the data was compared against national averages by utilizing data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Mahmud said, “We collect data about how people live: everything from the unemployment rate to income to rents to cancer rates to graduation rates—all the data we can find about quality of life. Then we bring it together and analyze it in connection to different topics. Last year, we did a massive analysis of the gender-pay gap around the country in different cities and looked at the opioid epidemic. And for this report, we decided to take a deep dive into marijuana legalization.”
Mahmud uses Colorado as an example regarding heroin use, stating that the numbers show that the state is below the national average and hasn’t increased since marijuana legalization took place. The same result applies to the state’s opioid-related deaths. Furthermore, Colorado is above the national average for cocaine use, but that number was elevated before legalization took place. Meanwhile, tobacco use has steadily declined in the state following legalization.
According to Mahmud, the data shows that “if marijuana is truly a gateway drug, we’d see a spike in the use of other substances in addition to a spike in marijuana use. We should have seen spikes all over the place. But when we looked at the data, the corresponding spikes didn’t exist. And because of that, it led us to the conclusion that there isn’t a strong correlation between marijuana use and the use of other substances.”