william martin

U.S.: Study Finds Alcohol Is Much Bigger Gateway Drug Than Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

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.”

Texas: Lawmakers Hold Hearing On Bill To Reduce Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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The Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence will hold a hearing Wednesday on a bill that would reduce state penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The hearing is scheduled to take place in the Texas State Capitol Extension E2.030 upon adjournment of the House.

HB 507, authored by committee vice-chair Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso), will be one of several marijuana-related bills considered by the committee on Wednesday. It is the only proposal that would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of $100.

Under current Texas law, individuals found in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested and given a criminal record, and they face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

“When I was a prosecutor, I saw firsthand how scarce our criminal justice resources are and how disproportionately harsh drug convictions can be on nonviolent offenders, especially young people,” said Rep. Moody. “As a lawmaker, I have a responsibility to make sure we’re spending our resources wisely and treating our people fairly. That’s what HB 507 is about.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were 72,150 arrests or citations issued for marijuana-related offenses in Texas in 2012, 97 percent of which were for simple possession. That same year, nearly 90 percent of all burglaries, including home invasions, and 88 percent of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved.

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