By Derrick Stanley
Marijuana has been labeled the biggest gateway drug in America for years, a notion that was promoted by the "Just Say No" program. A 40-year long study, however, has found that alcohol is much more likely to lead to harder drugs than marijuana.
Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy and Brian C. Bennett, the creator of “Truth: the anti-drug war,” collaborated to find that alcohol caused “far more personal and social damage than any other drug. Illegal drugs comprise less than 20 percent of substance-use disorders in the U.S.”
Abuse of alcohol and prescription opioids make up the huge majority of drug problems, not illegal drugs.
The Baker Institute’s Drug Policy Program's website quotes its director, William Martin: “marijuana’s reputation as a ‘gateway’ drug is not supported, even for more marijuana use. More than half of respondents under 60 have used it during their lifetime, but fewer than 10 percent use it regularly.”
Many more Americans use alcohol regularly or have at least tried it.
“In 2014, 87.6 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime, 71.0 percent reported that they drank in the past year; 56.9 percent reported that they drank in the past month.”