A study published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse adds even more evidence showing that marijuana use itself does not cause people to use harder drugs.
"We found that marijuana use within itself wasn't a risk factor for use of other drugs," said lead author Joseph Palamar, an assistant professor in the New York University Langone Medical Center's department of population health. "People do generally use marijuana before other drugs, but that doesn't mean marijuana is a cause of [using] those other drugs."
The researchers based their conclusions on data gathered from Monitoring the Future, an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes and values of American high school students. Roughly 15,000 high school seniors are assessed each year.
"Most teens who use marijuana don't progress to use of other drugs, and we believe this is evidenced in part by the fact that nearly two-thirds of these marijuana-using teens did not report use of any of the other illicit drugs we examined," he noted.
These results show that educators and counselors would do better to prevent drug use if they focus on the reasons that students give for trying illicit substances, Palamar concluded.
"We need to address the reasons why people use, the drives that lead people to use," he said. "The majority of adults in the U.S. have at least tried marijuana, and we know the majority has never gone on to use another drug, yet we tend to treat all drug use as pathological."