Home Culture The Drug Czar of the White House Still Believes the Gateway Theory

The Drug Czar of the White House Still Believes the Gateway Theory


While the Obama Administration has been supportive of reform of laws that criminalize drug users, favoring the idea of treatment over incarceration, they are still not quite on board with legal marijuana. Actually, with the latest words from Michael Botticelli, the director of National Drug Control Policy, it’s clear they are sticking by outdated excuses which have already been proven false.

Their first excuse is the ever-loved favorite by anti-marijuana groups – the gateway theory.

“I think the evidence is pretty clear that early use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana – often used together – significantly increases the probability that someone will develop a more significant addictive disorder later in their life,” he said. “Early substance use actually affects brain development and predisposes people for more significant vulnerabilities later in their life.”

The truth here is, there is no proven correlation between those who smoke marijuana and those who went on to become drug addicts. The number of variables that go into what leads to drug-addiction is so chaotic that there is no one reason – but often marijuana is not the only thing addicts will have in common and not all addicts started off smoking marijuana in the first place.

“While I don’t know if marijuana is a gateway drug to heroin, every single kid that I’m dealing with who is on opioids or on heroin started with marijuana. So there is a perfect match – 100 percent,” Lynch said. “So it deserves a cautionary note in terms of some of this marijuana legalization. I think we are buying ourselves a huge problem.”

Though he is quick to admit he cannot prove the gateway theory, he looks to personal experience to make these statements, rather than the data gathered across the country that says otherwise. Actually, recent studies suggest that cannabis therapy could be a successful treatment option for opioid, alcohol, and tobacco addiction.

“I do believe that when you look at the data in terms of the high levels of marijuana use that we have among youth in the country … that we are in for more significant problems in the United States,” he said.

Here’s the second lie that he resurrected during his statement. For years, people expected that marijuana legalization would lead to increased teen use – but it’s been proven that marijuana legalization does not increase teen use of the plant. In fact, teen use has stayed at relatively the same levels (in comparison to the population) and the broader acceptance is likely due to the fact that teens are smart enough to do a Google search and form their own opinion.

Either way – these statements are nothing but excuses for the government to stay out of the cannabis reform movement. They aren’t quite ready yet to admit that prohibition was wrong and that prohibition and the creation of the illegal market could be the reason that there are so many teens with access to marijuana in the first place.