Friday, September 6, 2019

The Gateway


Weed. Mary Jane. Pot. Wacky Tobacki. Devil’s Lettuce. Marijuana. Cannabis.

We all know this plant. If this is new to you, your mind is about to explode.

Marijuana is being decriminalized, legalized for medical use, and some states even allow recreational use. This topic is impacting every industry whether that be directly or indirectly.
I’ve heard the common phrase that marijuana is a gateway drug and thus should be avoided. I’ve always thought that statement was kind of outlandish, but realize now that it is true, however, not for the reasons its detractors claim or use.

Have you ever purchased something at or near the check out counter at a retailer or the grocery store? Yes. Yes, you have. It’s called a proximity purchase. Smart marketers and retailers place these items in the proximity of where you must eventually go knowing that they can stir up some good old fashioned red-blooded American impulsiveness. You were not planning on trying out the boutique birthday cake flavored chewing gum, but once they caught you in their loving gaze, you didn’t want to buy it, you HAD to buy it.

As of today, the sixth day of September two thousand nineteen, the year of our Lord, at 2:09 in the afternoon (I love the dramatic fashion of date/time from way back when) marijuana remains a class 1 drug. According to the DEA’s drug scheduling marijuana is in the same class as heroin. Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

Weed is in the same drug class as heroin. We can all agree heroin is a pretty stiff drug and highly addictive. As Dave Chapelle said correctly, the opioid/heroin epidemic is analogous to the crack epidemic for a new generation and race. Marijuana is quite different in terms of its reputation. Now that uber wealthy white males (1%) have appropriated marijuana and made it profitable for themselves it’s this amazing all natural 100% organic medicine. We can now go to Apple-like retail stores and smell and examine the buds/flower under a microscope and discuss its flavor palate and side effects with Jeff from Spokane. I can even place an order to be ready for me at a specific time. And get this, I can get it delivered. I could divert here and dive into the deep murky waters of social injustice, the BS nature of the war on drugs, and systemic racism, but that’s for another time.

For now, let’s focus on the general idea that marijuana is acceptable for the most part. There are some groups of people that hold on to the past, those people typically say they want things to be like they were or great again and have a limited understanding. Why is weed a gateway drug? Is it addictive from a physiological perspective? I’m not saying it isn’t socially addictive, meaning you don’t want to go without it, but could if you had to. I haven’t seen studies suggest that with any overwhelming confidence. So what is this gateway? Gateway into heavier drugs, like first comes weed then John is strung out on krokodil sleeping next to a trash can in a park somewhere in Florida.

The reason for marijuana being a gateway is similar to that oatmeal pie you haven’t had since you were a kid practically jumping off the shelf into your loving arms, proximity. It’s illegal so you have to deal with criminals for the most part. I’d imagine a criminal doesn’t have a largely selective moral compass regarding the types of drugs they sell. So drug dealer Chad sells some weed to Brittney in the parking lot, but has Chris begging him for something else, say cocaine. Chad gets this illegal stuff from somewhere that has lots of other illegal drugs. Brittney sees Chad is selling other things and gives those a whirl. Cute little Brittney who thought she was a bad-ass for grabbing that cheap shake from Chad is now strung out and seeking to get higher highs, which leads her down a dark and destructive path.

Other illegal drugs are sold with or around marijuana so of course the likelihood of someone trying something else is high (no pun intended, but too obvious to ignore). Legalize it and place it in a safe and regulated environment and you change the proximity curse marijuana has been burdened with by being considered heroin’s first cousin.