Toronto: One of the controversies surrounding the marijuana legalization movement revolves around the question of whether marijuana is a gateway drug or not. If smoking weed does, in fact, lead to the use of other drugs, then legalizing the recreational use of marijuana may not be such a good idea after all.
People who start smoking marijuana at the beginning of their teens are at a higher risk of having a drug abuse problem by the age of 28, a study has found.
Unfortunately, there is little scientific research that definitely resolves the gateway drug debate.
There have been studies that returned results on both sides of the question.
One study, however, suggested that the age when someone begins to use marijuana is a key factor in whether they go on to problems with alcohol and other drugs later in life.
Researchers from by Universite de Montreal in Canada suggest that found that children in primary school need to be educated about the risks of starting pot smoking, especially now that the potency is much greater than it was in decades past and that public acceptance is being spurred by legalisation in many places.
The study found that those who started smoking pot between the age of 15 and 17 were at 44% higher risk of developing a drug abuse problem. However, the risk was higher at 68% for those who started at an earlier age.
For the study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, researchers looked at data for 1,030 boys from some of the city’s impoverished neighbourhoods begun in the early 1980s.
Then the data were correlated with the age at which they started using cannabis.
The results confirmed the researchers’ suspicions: the younger they started, the more likely the boys had a drug problem later as young men.
Even if those who start smoking cannabis at 17 years were at lower risk, frequent users at age 17 had almost double the chance of abuse by age 28 than occasional users.
The researchers also found that the earlier that boys were involved in gangs, drank alcohol, got into fights, stole or vandalised property, the earlier they used cannabis and the higher their odds of having drug abuse issues by 28.