Is Weed Really A Gateway Drug?

by Gottfried Moh

Is Weed Really A Gateway Drug?

Growing up, I couldn't wrap my head around my classmates crushing chalk into powder and putting the dust into pieces of paper before lighting it up to take a few puffs. Humble beginnings, I guess. Yes, at the time it was absolutely hilarious and fairly. Are there any health implications for smoking chalk? According to research, chalk dust could be harmful to persons who live with allergies.

Cigarette smoke, unarguably, is a major killer. It contains tobacco and is laced with nicotine, which makes consumption highly addictive. Smoking cigarettes is known to reduce the average human lifespan by at least 14 years, as it affects vital organs in the body. Cigarette smokers wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to puff on a Cuban cigar, would they?

Heroin is an opioid most commonly used as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects. Its consumption also leads to an addiction and has dire health implications. Of course, if you’re on Heroin, there is a huge chance you are combining it with other harmful substances. Heroin withdrawal is a terrifying experience that begins to torture the body within hours of the last intake. Mortifying just thinking about it, how much more experiencing it. So, in all of this, how is weed any different?

Weed (read: cannabis, marijuana, ganja) has been legalised in a number of countries, most notably Uruguay and Canada. These nations have fully legalized the consumption and sale of recreational cannabis nationwide. Court rulings in Georgia and South Africa have led to the legalisation of consumption of cannabis in these countries. Lesotho and Zimbabwe have legalised marijuana for medical use. Medical marijuana is cannabis recommended by doctors for their patients. The use of cannabis as medicine has not been rigorously tested, due to restrictions in its production and governmental regulations. There is evidence though to suggest that cannabis can reduce nausea and vomiting to patients suffering from cancer. It is also said to improve the appetite in people with HIV/AIDS, which quite frankly, is a huge plus.

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No one has actually been recorded to die from casually smoking weed. It is still debatable whether anyone who consumes too much of this drug cannot potentially experience an overdose. On the bright side, the toxic reactions produced by marijuana/cannabis are not generally fatal. If you’re going to have a few puffs, you have no business hitting the expressway. The consumption of marijuana could, however, significantly increase risks for involvement in a motor vehicle accident.

A good number of internet users have probably seen the viral video of a guy who was asked if he was strong enough to handle “a drag or two”. He replied, “na we dey smoke this thing now, no be today, our head strong”. He took the first drag and a second. In the process of having a third, he was asked by the vox pop host if he wasn’t going too far. His reply was, “I go dey alright, no worries”. When the “good stuff” finally hit him a few seconds later, he started screaming and shouting: “where una manager of this GT Bank dey?” A few passers-by had to intervene before he could be restrained.

There was a recent thread on Twitter, where someone with a decent following argued that weed was not a gateway drug. In his words, it is possible that there were actual drug users, who only took weed, afterall, if one smoked purely natural herbs, it is expected to be soothing to the system at best. He also went on to argue that "drug abusers are just drug users with discipline problems". He further opined that "unintelligent people smoke weed for inspiration", whereas it does absolutely nothing to the brain cells. From his perspective, whenever weed causes headache or weakness, then what has been consumed is trash that has been mixed up. He argued that when people “run mad”, especially after smoking, the blame is heaped on weed while in truth, they must have taken some other harmful substances that have made them lose their marbles.

For a long time, our parents convinced us that people with tattoos and who smoked weed were up to no good. The argument is still on in many households today. However, considering the social and legislative changes in the general attitude to marijuana around the world, it has to be said that the jury is still out on whether or not Weed is a gateway drug.