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Clearing The Haze: 5 Myths About Cannabis Debunked Series – Is Cannabis A Gateway Drug?

Clearing The Haze: 5 Myths About Cannabis Debunked Series

Myth 1: Is Cannabis A Gateway Drug?


Unravelling myths is often the first step toward understanding a complex subject, and medicinal cannabis is no exception. Today, we take a critical look at one of the most prevalent misconceptions: ‘Cannabis is a Gateway Drug.’

Gateway Theory

The gateway theory, suggesting that cannabis use leads to harder drugs, is a long-held belief. Yet, a substantial body of research contradicts this. Cleveland & Wiebe’s study in the Journal of School Health [1] found no significant correlation between cannabis use and initiation into harder substances. Instead, the research emphasised other factors like mental health, environment, and social conditions.

This finding is backed by a report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)[2], which states that the majority of people who use cannabis do not go on to use other, “harder” substances.

Further, a research article published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior examined the gateway theory and suggested that socio-environmental factors have a more substantial role in progressing to harder substances than cannabis use [3].

Interestingly, we at CannaPlus+ have observed that medicinal cannabis might be a gateway drug…to better health! Our patients report improved symptom control and overall well-being by an average of 25%, as rated on the WHO’s Wellbeing Index Rate, after incorporating medicinal cannabis into their routines and initiating healthier lifestyle choices ranging from diet to physical activity.


While the notion of cannabis as a gateway drug persists, scientific evidence does not support this. Instead, studies and experiences indicate that CBD, a cannabis constituent, can catalyse a journey toward better health and well-being. We are inspired by our patients’ progress and encourage their continued efforts toward improved health.

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  1. Cleveland, H. H., & Wiebe, R. P. (2008). Understanding the association between adolescent marijuana use and later serious drug use: gateway effect or developmental trajectory? Journal of School Health, 78(11), 595-606.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Marijuana Research Report: Is marijuana a gateway drug?
  3. Doherty, E. E., Green, K. M., Reisinger, H. S., & Ensminger, M. E. (2008). Long-term patterns of drug use among an urban African-American cohort: The role of gender and family. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 49(1), 56-71
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