The Whitstable Gazette: "Is Cannabis a Gateway Drug?" and other stories

From CJ Stone's Whitstable Gazette column, Written in Stone.

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1. Is Cannabis a Gateway drug?

You may have heard the term “gateway drug” with reference to cannabis. It is the idea that cannabis use opens the door to other drugs.

The basis of this is that it can be shown that most people who end up using hard drugs like heroin have, at some earlier point in their lives, also taken cannabis.

This is an absurd argument, of course, since it can also be shown that most heroin users have also previously drunk tea, gone shopping or watched Deal Or No Deal on daytime TV.

Should we make Noel Edmonds illegal then? Does daytime TV drive you to heroin? I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Of course the only real similarity between cannabis and heroin is the fact that they are both illegal and therefore available from the same source.

In other words it is precisely the status of the two drugs as illegal substances that is most likely to cause an escalation from one to the other. Heroin addicts often fund their addiction by dealing in other drugs.

Plus when people find out that they are not instantly and irrecoverably addicted to cannabis after a few smokes, they begin to disbelieve the official line on drugs as a whole, and to imagine that they can handle heroin in the same way.

This is where they are mistaken. No one can handle heroin. It’s the second most addictive drug on the planet. Unfortunately the most addictive drug is freely available to sixteen year-olds over the counter in almost every corner shop or newsagents in the world.

It is nicotine, more addictive, more dangerous, and far more harmful than heroin.

Ask any heroin addict. Cigarettes are more difficult to kick than heroin. And you’ll notice this too: heroin addicts generally stop taking other drugs. They don’t drink alcohol, and they rarely smoke cannabis. But they all smoke cigarettes.

It’s as if, in having become addicted to cigarettes – something we all consider quite normal – it gives them permission to become heroin addicts too.

So you have to ask yourself, which is the real gateway drug?

2. Where was God?

There was an odd little programme on the TV a few years back, called Tsunami: Where Was God ?

It involved the presenter going to a number of places in Southeast Asia where the Tsunami was most devastating, and asking people about God.

This seemed a very strange thing to do and it brought up some quite peculiar responses. One extremist Muslim said that it was a punishment for tight clothing, while the most profound statement came from a Hindu woman whose son had been swept away in the Tsunami. She was grief stricken but resigned. “God has returned to God,” she said.

What struck me was that the question itself is absurd. God just doesn’t come into it. It takes a peculiar form of human vanity to think that God listens to individual human prayers, or that he has a particular preference for one religion over another. The fact is that Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, believers and non-believers, were all carried away in the Tsunami, which made no distinction whatsoever between people or their religious beliefs.

This took place on the second anniversary of the Tsunami, but the first anniversary of the Gaza massacre in which 1,400 Palestinians were trapped in their cage and killed, a large percentage of them children.

It seems odd that the second anniversary of one tragic event was so extensively covered, but that the first anniversary of another was so completely ignored.

The difference being, of course, that the first was a natural occurrence over which human beings had no control, while the second was entirely man-made.

Even more notable is that while the rebuilding of the coastline of South East Asia continued, the people of Gaza still labour under an economic blockade which stops building materials from crossing the border, and so are unable to even begin the process of rebuilding their devastated country.

A saner anniversary programme might have been called Gaza: Where Is Our Humanity ?

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3. Believe it or not

My Mum told me this story.

She said went into a shop and bought some items and paid for them with a £10 note, but the woman behind the counter gave her change for £20.

There were several people lined up at the counter waiting to be served, and, not wanting to embarrass the shop assistant, Mum waited till the queue had cleared.

“Excuse me,” she said eventually, “I think you’ve made a mistake. You’ve given me the wrong change.”

“No I haven’t.,” said the woman behind the counter, very curtly.

“Yes you have,” said my Mum, getting ready to hand the extra £10 back.

“No I haven’t,” said the woman, raising her voice, obviously annoyed that anyone was questioning her point of view.

My Mum tried a few more times, each time being interrupted by an increasingly angry shop-assistant before she had even completed her sentence.

“OK if you say so,” she said finally, and put the extra £10 note into her purse. Later her and my sister went out and had lunch on the money.

People believe a lot of things that aren’t necessarily true. In the case of that shop-assistant, she had obviously rung the wrong figure into the till, and when offered a choice between what the till was saying and the word of a customer, preferred to believe the till.

Machines don’t lie, of course. But when provided with faulty information they will give you faulty answers.

The problem with human beings is that once we get a belief stuck into our head it’s very difficult to dislodge it.

Sometimes some of our beliefs make some sort of sense. But often they don’t. Some of our beliefs have been inculcated into us since early childhood. They’ve been repeated so often we take them for the truth. Our whole world is built around received belief-systems such as this.

Personally I always retain a healthy scepticism about anyone’s beliefs… and that includes my own.

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Comments 15 comments

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Excellent Hub CJ. As a former Cannabis smoker who NEVER went on to any other illegal drugs I totally agree with your thoughts on the reasons why people might go on to other drugs based on the illegality issues. I also remember being told cigarettes were 25 times as addictive as Heroin, so this too is true. As you know I stopped smoking cigarettes over a year ago now, and haven't had Cannabis for about 4 years. Cannabis was easy to stop, cigarettes were much harder, although in the end the course I did made it relatively easy compared to all the usual methods.


Blue Crow profile image

Blue Crow 6 years ago from Yorkshire

It's only a gateway drug insofar as it introduces you to dealers and like you said, users of harder drugs. I have smoked cannabis since I was 13 and still have never had a drug habbit, taken heroin or crack and only dabbled recreationally in cocaine, speed, lsd, mushrooms, E. The only harm using cannabis did me was gaining six stone in one year from munchies. Massive weightgain caused IBS and acid reflux and 15 years later I'm left with that. I still smoke the odd J. I'm not manically depressed or mentally ill either, so their research doesn't apply across the board.

I have known many heroin addicts. Most of them I was introduced to before they got habbits and they were just having a joint. I think you are right in saying the attitude to herion alters because of the misinformation about cannabis. Most of them would take anything that would get them high like G's cough medicine or DF118's etc - that is the stage they had reached and yes, all of them smoked ciggerattes, inc joints. All of them turned to crime in some form and except the ones we buried from OD'ing, nearly all of them went on to rehabilitate and become drug counsellors.

Cannabis was used by Queen Victoria for her period pains. Cannabis tincture was manufactured in my home town of Hitchin at Ransoms until they made it illegal and there are fields of hemp growing in fields near Baldock - all low grade and give you a stonking headache (so I was told lol)

Cannabis shouldn't be illegal. What about codine? Your brain processes it the same way as morphine.


Audrevea 6 years ago

The line in Australia is that the 'new' cannabis is much more potent than what the hippies were smoking. I haven't smoked either, so what do I know? Seems to me that legalising things takes the power away from the dodgy sellers and puts it back into the hands of individuals to make up their own minds.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Of course the "new cannabis" - possibly a genetically modified version of the plant - is the result of its illegality, since it is more concentrated and powerful making smuggling more viable. If it was legal, well what would you do: you'd grow your own.


liv 6 years ago

Marijuana did lead me to other drugs and cause some bad experiences that still haunt me today... Here's how serious smoking weed can become http://stop-smoking-weed.org


epigramman profile image

epigramman 6 years ago

is cannabis a gateway drug - yes I can't stop the munchies!!!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

"liv" seems to be an exception to the 'norm,' and is commenting on these hubs only to promote his/her own anti-cannabis propoganda.

I'm 62 years old, have never actually tried it, but am now researching it with an eye to a remedy for chronic pain from degenerative arthritis of the spine.

Thanks for an informative hub, and Bah, Humbug! to the nay-sayers!


Mushroom Serpent 6 years ago

How come tobacco & alchohol are not even on the list of scheduled or controlled plants & drugs, despite their obvious and widespread negative health implications, but cannabis and the naturally occurring psychedelics are verboten & withheld from society wholesale ?


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

I agree Mushroom Serpent. Do I gather by your name that you like the odd psychedelic voyage yourself occasionally?


Mushroom Serpent 6 years ago

Hey Chris, I find that once a week allows adequate time for integration of the psychedelic experience, this routine has proven effective (in combination with much of time spent in raw nature) in deconditioning one from the banal miasmic nonsense of western culture, & opening into a much wider, more fullfilling and authentic existance. These original inner experiences have always been available to humankind, but have in recent times been sectioned off from the populace by priests and royalty and governments.

I contend that these 'hidden' jewels are in fact the true keys to our conscious awakening as a species.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Now's the season of course. Do you have any idea where I can find them?


Mushroom Serpent 6 years ago

yes i do, & I will send you the info :)


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

"The fact is that Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, believers and non-believers, were all carried away in the Tsunami". I believe you are right. I also believe god hates poor people and I have said this before. Poor people die in wars, they die in tsunamis, earthquakes, fires ... poor people die of hunger, they seem to be reall ygood at dying whatever the circumstances are.

Concerning Blair, I say someone should impale him and leave him hanging on a pole at the intersection of Corporation St. and New Town Row in London, maybe it will detter other maggots from being such crooks.

Gotta run.


CJStone profile image

CJStone 6 years ago from Whitstable, UK Author

Mr Happy, I believe you are right too. God hates poor people and he loves rich people. It's the only explanation that makes sense. Either that, or the rich people might have invented God to keep the poor people in their place. Blair is obviously someone favoured by God, or he would have been impaled half a decade ago.


ChristianRecca profile image

ChristianRecca 5 years ago from Rutherford, NJ

Regarding the gateway drug issue, you make a logical, well-informed case. The fact is that, the longer this remains illegal, the more people's lives are going to be destroyed. I think you might be interested in some of my hubs:

http://hubpages.com/hub/3-More-Lives-Up-in-Smoke-A

http://hubpages.com/hub/Marine-Shot-60-Times-in-Bo

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

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