Is Marijuana a "Gateway" Drug?: A Preliminary Empirical Analysis

Karen Van Gundy, University of New Hampshire
Cesar J. Rebellon, University of New Hampshire

ebate surrounds the influence of so called "gateway" drugs, like marijuana, on subsequent problems with more dangerous illicit drugs. Thus, we use longitudinal data from representative cohort of south Florida young adults (N=1,683) to assess the extent to which adolescent marijuana use predicts young adult use of, and/or DSM-IV abuse or dependence on, illicit drugs other than marijuana. Preliminary findings suggest that adolescent marijuana use increases risk for illicit drug use in young adulthood when controlling for prior drug use, gang membership, stress exposure, and sociodemographic variables. However, older (over 21) and working young adults appear to be less affected by this gateway effect. Moreover, it appears that adolescent marijuana use does not influence adult abuse or dependence on other illicit drugs when controls are applied.,

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Updated 05/20/2006