“Casting doubt on a basic principle of U.S. anti-drug policies, an independent [RAND] study concluded that marijuana use may not lead teenagers to [harder] drugs.” -Reuters, Dec. 3, 2002
For our purposes, this story begins in 1937. It happened at the kangaroo hearings of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. It was at these hearings that Harry Anslinger, the commissioner of the then Federal Bureau of Narcotics, told Congress that marijuana is “an addictive drug which produces in its users, insanity, criminality and death.”
Congress overwhelmingly agreed.
What happened next was sheer comedy. Anslinger's contention that marijuana causes “insanity” opened the door to a new legal argument for accused criminals. It was called the Marijuana Insanity Defense, and it worked.
Oh boy, what a mess.
The most famous case was two Newark, N.J. women who were accused of murdering a bus driver for his pocket change. One of the women testified that, “After two puffs on a marijuana cigarette my incisor teeth grew six inches long and dripped with blood.”
Wow, you too!?
The most absurd case was that of an accused cop killer, twice over. This guy didn't even claim to have smoked the pot. According to the defendant, a bag of weed was transmitting “homicidal vibrations,” causing him to go on a cop-killing spree.
Unbelievably, he was acquitted. They were all acquitted.
Yup. Anslinger's asinine declaration had returned to haunt him. So in 1939, in a successful bid to end the marijuana insanity defense insanity, Anslinger adjusted his official stance on cannabis to read, “Marijuana does not cause insanity or death, but it is certainly the first step on the road to heroin addiction”(From Shaffer Library of Drug Policy, www.druglibrary.org).
That statement was the introduction of the idea we now call The Gateway Effect and is the basis for U.S. marijuana policy to this day (a notion steadfastly defended by Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft).
In the years that followed, marijuana laws ebbed and flowed. In 1942, marijuana was removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia because it was believed to cause psychotic episodes, violent behavior and perverted sex crimes. In 1944, the La Guardia Report discounted all that bullshit. In the 1950s, three federal laws were passed establishing mandatory prison sentences for, among other things, marijuana-related offenses.
Then came the '60s, and you know what happened then: revolution.
Nobody gave much thought about weed in the '60s (except, maybe, where to get it) and everything was just hanky dooky-until the '80s arrived... and here comes Ronald Reagan's retarded War on Drugs; cramming that garbage about criminality, death and fang-growing upon the gullible public mindset all over again.
At first the people bought it because, well, you know, save the children and all that. But as time passed, and folks got smarter again, and they learned again-from common-freaking-sense-that marijuana is not the devastating social twister the anti-pot stiffs would have us believe. And since we weren't buying all their fear-mongering propaganda anymore, they again had to concentrate on a better reason to justify their preposterous, oppressive marijuana laws. Hence, The Gateway Effect.
So the new, old debate swirls once more: Is or isn't marijuana a gateway drug?
Well, I don't need no stinking grants to answer that question. Of course it's a gateway drug. That's why we smoke it, silly. Marijuana is a gateway to raucous laughter. Marijuana is a gateway to higher levels of Pink-Floyd-understanding. Marijuana is a doorway to a different view of the inside of your brain. For some people, marijuana is even a stairway to Heaven.
But is marijuana a gateway to harder drugs? Answer: It sure is!
Every bit as much as kissing is a gateway to abortion.
Everything is a portal to something else. Jogging is a threshold to thin. Employment is a threshold to food and shelter. Dance is a vehicle to art. And what is the uterus but a dark, sticky Malkovich-ian portal into this great big world full of millions and millions of portals within portals within more fantastic portals?
I'll tell you when to start worrying. Start worrying when marijuana is not a gateway. Start worrying when it's a dead end. Maybe the anti-pot stiffs will argue that cannabis is a dead end-that stoners lie around and watch television all day. Well, if that is what marijuana does for you, then by all means don't partake. But for me, well, it's a beautiful day. I'm about to take a bong hit, walk to the beach, suck the blood out of the necks of a coupla cops and screw a seagull for desert.
Wheeee! This weed sure is wacky.
Is marijuana a gateway drug? Perhaps, but I'll choose my own damn gateways, thank you. Because, clearly, oafish pricks like Harry Anslinger and John Ashcroft, are far too ignorant to choose them for me.