As anyone who's been through a DARE speech — and that's pretty much anyone who's gone to school in the United States — one of the first things they tell you about cannabis is that it's a "gateway drug."
By that they mean one puff from a joint, pipe or vaporizer will condemn you to a life where you are not only at the mercy of mary jane, but harder drugs like heroin, cocaine and toad licking. Think "Reefer Madness," and those of you who've never sat through one of those presentations will understand.
It's taken as gospel among anti-drug crusaders, despite the fact we've have presidents who've admitted to smoking pot (regardless whether or not they actually inhaled), as have a sizable number of active and productive adults in the last 50 years.
A University of Florida study calls that orthodoxy of drug control into question. In fact, it's a legal substance (though not for minors) that they've discovered is more likely to lead them down the path of harder drugs.
From a University of Florida press release about the study, to be published in the August issue of the Journal of School Health:
"In addition, the drug use documented found that substance use typically begins with the most socially acceptable drugs, such as alcohol and cigarettes, then proceeds to marijuana use and finally to other illegal, harder drugs. Moreover, the study showed that students who used alcohol exhibited a significantly greater likelihood — up to 16 times — of licit and illicit substance use."