Marijuana is Not a Gateway Drug – U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch Confirms
During Prescription Opioid Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, the U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch discussed marijuana and it’s stigma of being a gateway drug. Studies have previously proven that alcohol, not marijuana, is the gateway drug. Teens and young adults are more likely to try alcohol or tobacco before marijuana and other drugs.
Lynch gave a speech at the University of Kentucky on September 20 to a group of high school students. The Obama administration created the awareness week to draw attention to the growing number of opioid and heroin overdose cases and accidental deaths caused by these harmful drugs. Although Lynch did say that marijuana is not a gateway drug, she did provide information detailing some of the potential side effects and hazards that can stem from excessive marijuana use.
The Attorney General said:
"When we talk about heroin addiction, we usually, as we have mentioned, are talking about individuals that started out with a prescription drug problem, and then because they need more and more, they turn to heroin.
It isn’t so much that marijuana is the step right before using prescription drugs or opioids – it is true that if you tend to experiment with a lot of things in life, you may be inclined to experiment with drugs, as well. But it’s not like we’re seeing that marijuana as a specific gateway."
In terms of where these addictions and illegal possession of prescription drugs can be accessed, it’s rather self-explanatory.
"In so many cases, it isn’t trafficking rings that introduce a person to opioids. It’s the household medicine cabinet. That’s the source."
Shutting Down a Myth
U.S. Attorney General Lynch provided information regarding research about society’s tendency to try illegal drugs. She adamantly spoke about the fact that recreational marijuana users are not on a track to experimenting with harder drugs. Prescription drug abuse is the main factor that leads to illegal drug abuse, like heroin addiction.
Choosing Kentucky for this Event
You might wonder, why Kentucky? Kentucky is one of the states in the U.S. that has been hit the hardest with heroin addiction and overdoses. It has become an epidemic. The awareness week was a presidential proclamation to bring the issue more to the forefront.
The Heroin Bill
In 2015 in Kentucky, Senate Bill 192, also known as The Heroin Bill, was made law to impose harsher penalties on heroin dealers. Heroin traffickers will also be given harsher penalties for peddling the drug. This bill also helps those struggling with addiction, as treatment options are made available for those in need.
Heroin alone was responsible for 1,087 deaths in just Kentucky in 2014. The Office of Drug Control Policy provided information showing that more than 1,000 people die each year from drug overdoses in Kentucky.
The Obama Administration is working to raise $1.1-billion to fund fighting opioid addiction in the country. Lynch didn’t necessarily call marijuana safe, but she did say that even she does not consider it to be the gateway drug.