Dr. Benjamin Carson appeared on Fox News with Greta Van Susteren to bemoan the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. Carson descended into a “Reefer Madness” worthy rant declaring pot to be a “gateway drug” despite all evidence to contrary.
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Carson is a medical doctor, but managed to miss out on the fact that scientists long ago had abandoned the idea that marijuana use causes people to try other drugs. A report commissioned by congress from the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences concluded the following:
Patterns in progression of drug use from adolescence to adulthood are strikingly regular. Because it is the most widely used illicit drug, marijuana is predictably the first illicit drug most people encounter. Not surprisingly, most users of other illicit drugs have used marijuana first. In fact, most drug users begin with alcohol and nicotine before marijuana — usually before they are of legal age.
In the sense that marijuana use typically precedes rather than follows initiation of other illicit drug use, it is indeed a “gateway” drug. But because underage smoking and alcohol use typically precede marijuana use, marijuana is not the most common, and is rarely the first, “gateway” to illicit drug use. There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.
Carson fears the rise of “hedonistic activity” resulting from people enjoying sovereignty over their own lives and bodies.