In a refreshing, though no doubt unintended, bit of honesty, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy seems to be acknowledging that alcohol is the true "gateway drug." In a June 26 post on ONDCP's blog, the federal drug warriors proclaim, "More than 67 percent of young people who start drinking before the age of 15 will try an illicit drug. Children who drink are over 7 times more likely to use any illicit drug, are over 22 times more likely to use marijuana, and 50 times more likely to use cocaine than children who never drink."
ONDCP regularly uses similar correlations between marijuana and use of other drugs to argue that marijuana is a "gateway drug" that must be kept illegal for adults, but they make no such argument for banning booze. The truth -- which the folks at ONDCP know but will never say -- is that neither alcohol nor marijuana causes people to try other drugs. People inclined to try mood-altering substances simply start with what's most easily available.