CitationJorgensen, Cody & Wells, Jessica (2021). Is marijuana really a gateway drug? A nationally representative test of the marijuana gateway hypothesis using a propensity score matching design. Journal of Experimental Criminology.
AbstractMarijuana use has been proposed to serve as a “gateway” that increases the likelihood that users will engage in subsequent use of harder and more harmful substances, known as the marijuana gateway hypothesis (MGH). The current study refines and extends the literature on the MGH by testing the hypothesis using rigorous quasi-experimental, propensity score-matching methodology in a nationally representative sample. Using three waves of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (1994–2002), eighteen propensity score-matching tests of the marijuana gateway hypothesis were conducted. Six of the eighteen tests were statistically significant; however, only three were substantively meaningful. These three tests found weak effects of frequent marijuana use on illicit drug use but they were also sensitive to hidden bias. Results from this study indicate that marijuana use is not a reliable gateway cause of illicit drug use. As such, prohibition policies are unlikely to reduce illicit drug use.
Reference TypeJournal Article
Journal TitleJournal of Experimental Criminology