5. Youth marijuana use is associated with initiating other more dangerous illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine.
Epidemiology studies reported by NIDA show marijuana use typically follows cigarette and alcohol use and is a “gateway” to then using other more hazardous illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Marijuana use is also associated with a worsening of the use of legal substances, including increasing the probability of developing an alcohol use disorder. Link: (Marijuana Gateway Drug Report)
Animal research reported by NIDA also suggests that THC in marijuana has been shown to prime the brain for enhanced responses to other drugs. Link: (MedPageToday)
Lastly, social interactions with marijuana users can increase the likelihood of using other drugs. The good news is that even though it is rare for a person to use illicit drugs like cocaine or heroin without first using marijuana, most individuals who use marijuana do not advance to using more dangerous drugs.