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Research finds legal cannabis not a ‘gateway drug’

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Boulder, Colorado. (KDVR) — legalizing cannabis does not increase substance use disorders or the use of other illegal drugs, and is therefore not considered a “gateway drug,” according to a new study from the University of Colorado Boulder.

The study, published January 5 in the Psychiatry said that despite many critics of legalization who have expressed concerns that cannabis is the gateway drug, research has not found any changes in the use of illicit drugs after legalization. Instead, it may actually reduce alcohol-related problems.

According to CU Boulder, the study also found no connection between legalization and cognitive, psychosocial, relationship, and financial problems.

“We really didn’t find any support for a lot of the harms that people worry about rationing,” said lead author Stephanie Zellers, who began the research as a graduate student at the CU Boulder Institute for Behavioral Genetics. “From a public health perspective, these results are reassuring.”

Where CU collected data from

Researchers from CU Boulder, the University of Colorado Anshutz Medical Campus and the University of Minnesota took data from the Institute of Behavioral Genetics and the Minnesota Center for Twin Family Research to study 4,000 twins.

The twins came from Colorado One of the first states to legalize marijuanaand Minnesota, where recreational use is still illegal.

Researchers found that identical twins living in states where cannabis use is legal use it 20% more frequently. However, when comparing outcomes and looking at cannabis use disorder, alcohol and illicit drug use, and psychotic behavior, the research found no relationship to legalization.

“Our study suggests that we shouldn’t worry too much about daily adult use in a legal setting, but no drug is without risk,” said co-author John Hewitt, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder. “It would be a mistake to discount the risks from higher doses of a drug that is relatively safe in small amounts.”


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