Screw Flanders: Marijuana wrongly defined as No. 1 gateway drug

Mat Coe is a junior psychology and criminal justice major and writes "Screw Flanders" for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily represent those of the newspaper.

I am not a drug advocate. I am also not a pot smoker, however, I hate hearing people say that marijuana is a gateway drug.

I question that argument heavily. If there was no marijuana, would people still be drawn to heavy drugs? Is marijuana like a right of passage for people who aspire to be heavy drug users? I don't think cocaine dealers check for your marijuana ID before they sell you their product.

Since youths (in general) experiment with many aspects of their environment, they are most likely to try the softest and first drug on the illegal list. Marijuana is taking the heat for this one. Just because it's the first drug at the gate, doesn't mean it's the cause for using heavier drugs. Why not look at the drug that is sitting in front of the gate, persuading youths to enter? This of course, is tobacco.

Yes, marijuana is bad for you and can have negative direct and indirect consequences (impaired judgment). All the while, marijuana is not much worse than tobacco. So, why is tobacco legal? Addiction. How addictive is marijuana? It may not be as addictive as tobacco, but it can make you smell just as bad.

For those of you who think marijuana does not serve a purpose in our society, put your reading glasses on. Without marijuana, the next drug in line would take its place as "the gateway drug." I don't know what the next drug would be, so for the sake of argument, let's say it's mushrooms. Now that marijuana is out of the picture, in order to experiment with illegal substances, kids use mushrooms. The 'shroom dealers are happy at this because the disappearance of marijuana has eliminated some competition.

At this time, the social drug has become mushrooms. Isn't it better for us that marijuana creates a buffer between legal and heavy, illegal drugs? If you don't buy into this, let's just say that marijuana serves a purpose in our society because without it, some musicians would lose their inspiration.

Since I'm on the subject of legal drugs, how about alcohol? We, as a society, primarily during the 1920's, have proved that we need alcohol. As alcohol continues to cause problems, we continue to embrace it. While marijuana also causes problems, its problems are minor when compared to the problems that alcohol causes. Yet marijuana remains illegal, which is good.

Marijuana should not be legalized. Legalization would take the softest illegal drug off of the list. This means kids may move to another, worse drug in order to try illegal drugs. Also, if it were legal, we would have many more "potheads" in our public image to which we would have to explain to the countries that criticize us. It would bring America to a lazier state than it already is.

I'm lazy enough. Besides expanding our laziness (yes, it's possible that we can get lazier), our intelligence will suffer, thousands of people will think they are musicians, we will become collectively fatter, we will stink worse than the stenches of tobacco, and worst of all, more people will think Bob and Tom are actually funny.

Before you push for the legalization of marijuana because you want to use it, think carefully. If it were legalized, I'm sure the government would impose some restrictions on its use. The marijuana you can get on the street is far more potent than any marijuana that would be sold legally.

Then, in order to grow your own potent marijuana (which would most likely be restricted), you'd have to risk incarceration with maintaining your garden. Why go through all the trouble?

Write to Mat at


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