One more argument bites the dust – As some states get consider making pot legal, new drug research shows that the “gateway effect” of marijuana (that teenagers who use marijuana are more likely to move on to harder illicit drugs as young adults) is overblown. This knocks down one of the main arguments of the anti-marijuana contingent. Some wars are necessary, but others, like the War Against Drugs, are just plain silly.

The research shows that whether teenagers who smoked pot will use other illicit drugs as young adults has more to do with life factors such as employment status and stress. In fact, the strongest predictor of whether someone will use other illicit drugs is their race and ethnicity, not whether they ever used marijuana.

Sociologists Karen Van Gundy and Cesar Rebellon say, “In light of these findings, we urge US drug control policymakers to consider stress and life-course approaches in their pursuit of solutions to the ‘drug problem.'”

The researchers found that young adults who did not graduate from high school or attend college were more likely to have used marijuana as teenagers and other illicit substances in young adulthood. In addition, those who used marijuana as teenagers and were unemployed following high school were more likely to use other illicit drugs. However, the association between teenage marijuana use and other illicit drug abuse by young adults fades once stresses, such as unemployment, diminish, meaning the REAL solution to drug use isn’t jail, but jobs.

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