Marijuana Is Not a Gateway Drug, Study
Rather than encouraging the use of other harmful substances, a new study suggests that marijuana may actually have the opposite effect. According to research published in the Clinical Psychology Review, cannabis may be helpful in treating some people with substance abuse disorders—including opioid addiction—as well as some mental health disorders, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Marijuana is currently the most used illicit drug in the U.S.—it's estimated that 22.2 million people use it each month—and all but six states have now legalized the drug for some medical and/or recreational uses. However, marijuana's therapeutic potential remains controversial—the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) continues to classify cannabis as a Schedule I drug—a drug with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.
Researchers conducted a review of 60 studies evaluating the effects of medical and non-medical marijuana use on mental health disorders and substance abuse. They found that cannabis may act as an "exit" drug—a substitute for substances that are potentially more harmful—and can help alleviate symptoms of social anxiety, depression, and PTSD. According to researchers, marijuana use may worsen symptoms of some psychiatric conditions—including bipolar disorder.
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