Notes Antic Disposition

Gateway Drugs are Abject Nonsense

Almost all people who commit robbery, rape, and murder start by watching television. We must ban television.

As the NZ Herald wages war on P, there’s been a resurgence in gruff letters to the editor trying to bundle marijuana and other drugs into the same basket. Narrow-minded people who are unwilling to face the wider social problems of their society will always look to externalize the issue in an object — a substance upon which they can foist blame instead of deal with uncomfortable realities that are not black and white as their caricature of a worldview.

On top of this, comes FBI director Mueller dragging out the same tired argument for prohibition. Watch him get humiliated by a senator who has a more realistic understanding of the cultural situation:


If you actually care about science (most people don’t, because they prefer to hear confirmation that what they believe is right regardless of the facts), as yet, there have been no studies that provide conclusive evidence confirming the gateway drug theory (quite the opposite, in fact). It’s not certain that this is even worthy of being called a theory, since it’s more often a pet-topic of deluded trolls who have a personal grudge against marijuana use (notice that the gateway drug theory is never used to argue that tobacco or alcohol should be banned even though they must be the ultimate gateway drugs in any reasonable definition of the concept).

A more realistic ‘gateway’ would be the marshmallow experiment — understanding the dimensions of self-control, and risk taking would surely be a more reliable predictor of future use of ‘hard drugs’. Unfortunately, this defies easy explanation and provides no simple object of moral outrage.

What Western society seems to be unable to accept is the concept of balance and moderation. Everything is positioned in terms of all-out consumption or hard-line ban. There is no place in debate for moderation and acceptance. Thus, there becomes no distinction between use and abuse for anything that is considered malignant.

The sad thing is that we waste so much time on unjust and backwards distortions like drug policy and religious wars, that we are failing to tackle the really important problems like energy, sustainable development, and being able to feed the 7-9 billion people who will be alive on this planet over the next 25 years.