Pot tale of the week

In a June 7 editorial, the Las Vegas Review-Journal claimed, “And no matter how much pot enthusiasts argue otherwise, marijuana is both addictive—one in 10 people who try pot will become hooked on it—and a gateway to more deadly drugs that kill more than 45,000 Americans a year.”

The gateway theory has been around for decades—long before any research on drugs had been done. Thus, it plainly originated as a product of supposition, not of science. One version of it in the early 20th century said that tobacco always leads to harder stuff. Con man Charles Towns, who ran “clinics” where alleged cures for drug addiction were offered, said, “It [tobacco use] always precedes alcoholism and drug addiction. I’ve never had a drug case or an alcoholic case (excepting a few women) that didn’t have a history of excessive smoking.”

In the case of marijuana, once outside the realm of supposition and into practical tests, there is evidence that marijuana—far from acting as a gateway—actually serves as a barrier to “harder stuff.”

In 1969, the Nixon administration launched what it called “Operation Intercept”—slowing traffic at Mexico/U.S. border towns and thoroughly searching every vehicle. It certainly dried up supplies of marijuana in the Southwest—and demand for harder stuff shot up. New users of smack crowded into clinics. As marijuana slowly became more available again, heroin cases declined. California physician David Smith told Newsweek, “The government line is that the use of marijuana leads to more dangerous drugs. The fact is that the lack of marijuana leads to more dangerous drugs.”

The previous year during the Johnson administration, a military crackdown on marijuana in Vietnam reduced supply and prompted an upsurge in heroin use by U.S. servicepeople.

Incidentally, the Review-Journal has changed its position on marijuana since it was purchased by billionaire Sheldon Adelson.