Reading Bo's blog about legalizing pot and it's threat as a gateway drug made me finally write another blog. Most of you probably recall that I wouldn't have a problem if pot were legalized and heavily taxed. I do think, however, that it IS a gateway drug. This isn't an indictment of the drug's properties as much as our policy towards it.
The nation's DARE program is as expensive and as ineffective of most of our federal education programs. I'll bitch about DARE, but I don't believe my program (if I had one) would be any better. But dare lumps all drugs together as being "bad." Look at the next DARE poster you see. It'll have little icons or pictures of: pills, a needle, alcohol, and a joint. They're presented as all being the same severity or having the same degree of horror.
My daughter (fifth grade) told me that if somebody smokes marijuana for two years, it'll destroy their lungs permanently and give them significant brain damage. I had to give rebuttal to her DARE class. I told her that breathing any kind of smoke into your lungs wasn't in your best interests for long term health and nobody gets smarter smoking weed. It doesn't, however, make you permanently retarded.
So when kids use their first drug, it's usually alcohol. Alcohol is some nasty shit. You drink too much and you get violently ill. You'll feel like shit the next day. You'll even promise God that you'll never over indulge again if you could just get some divine intervention to make your headache and nausea go away. Most neophyte drug abusers would learn to be careful with the abuse of such a drug. There's consequences in its abuse.
The next drug that people experiment with is often marijuana. Marijuana doesn't have the same problems associated with it. It has no hangover and with over indulgence you become more "saturated" than having overdose symptoms. After a kid's first few weed experiences, they might realize that they've been lied to. They didn't get incapacitated by the drug. They didn't get sick. There was no hangover at all. They did not notice cognitive impairment when they were not on the drug. They didn't have a strong, involuntary compulsion to do it again. A kid might come to the conclusion that pot is not really that big of a deal. If they've been lied to about marijuana, perhaps the dangers of other drugs have been overstated.
Unfortunately, DARE has the evil of some drugs spot on. Yeah, you can get pretty damn preoccupied with cocaine, meth, and heroin. I won't debate that. If you continue to experiment with drugs because your first drug experiences with marijuana were benign, then it was your gateway drug.
Step One: experiment with marijuana and determine that it's more or less benign.
Step Two: come to the conclusion that the evils of other drugs are overstated and that they can be safely experimented with.
Step Three: experiment with cocaine, meth, and heroin.
Step Four: sucking a strange man's unwashed penis for your next hit of heroin laced crack.
This is a failing of how we educate children about drugs. If marijuana was legal and kids were educated that, like alcohol, marijuana can be used responsibly it wouldn't be a gateway drug any more.