Marijuana a Gateway Drug?

There is no surprise that currently marijuana is one of the most disputed issues in the United States. In fact, cannabis is one of the most ancient and most widely spread soft intoxicating media, and mankind has been studying its impacts for a long time. Once it was widely associated with religious rituals and was promoted in different cultures as a way to alternate conscience and to reach new levels of cognition. With the spread of Christianity, all those substances have been prohibited and strictly persecuted by church. With the approach to the epoch of Decadence, marihuana opened a new page of its history, having become an exotic entertainment for French beau monde, high society. Especially hashish was popular among artists, poets, writers and other representatives of creative elite. It was quite understood because these were people extremely sensitive to the calamities of the external world who needed a way to escape from those pains. On the other hand, sometimes hashish was regarded as a good alternative way to get inspiration. Many outstanding writers worked with the assistance of cannabis (Charles Pierre Baudelaire, Théophile Gautier, Paul Verlaine, Honoré de Balzac, Arthur Rimbaud etc.). However, only in the twentieth century the psychoactive effects of cannabis became the subject of scholar research. As early as 1937, forty six American states prohibited the use of marijuana, mostly due to the studies of Harry Jacob Anslinger. There were, of course, rational scientific arguments presenting the dangers of marijuana, but at the same time there was a high interference of political, economical and business factors.
For example, hemp fiber was much cheaper than synthetic sources and created unwanted competition for producers of the latter. Despite persecution, in the middle of the twentieth century marijuana became a symbol of a new age, of the hippie movement and other youth movements. Thus, the use of cannabis became mass. Further on, it became even romanticized by singers (John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, to name only few), writers and other cult personalities who were sample for youth. Step by step, with the science going further in its investigations and with the number of drug abusers growing the public concern began to escalate too. And never has this issue been so controversial and painful as today. The matter is, the public has received enough evidence to tall the tocsin, that is to say to get warned about not only the short-term, but rather long-term effects of drug use. On the whole, there is still no distinctive conclusion on how dangerous the use of marijuana is, as each new study presents new data conflicting with the outcomes of its forerunners. What is more, many results tend to give a garbled version of the situation, when it is to this or that extent profitable for one of the sides, either advocated or proponents of legalization of cannabis. In fact, it is virtually the question of marijuana decriminalization that stimulates most of the current studies and creates such a mass in mass consciousness. To see the very truth, one needs to go much deeper in studying the subject. For that, a lot of information should be investigated, prejudiced and verified, and only then some rational conclusions can be made. Today, one of the most questionable and challenged effects concerning marijuana is the so-called “gateway effect” we are going to examine in this work.

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