Researchers out of New York University’s Center for Drug Use and HIV Research wanted to examine the reasons for illicit marijuana use and whether or not these reasons related to users’ choices of other drugs. Marijuana is often referred to as a “gateway drug” that many drug users begin with. Because research is lacking in regards to illicit marijuana users who use other drugs, they were hopeful that the results might help inform prevention efforts. After analyzing data from 15,000 high school seniors, they found the following:

“The researchers found that using marijuana to alleviate boredom was associated with increased risk for reporting use of powder cocaine or hallucinogens other than LSD. Nearly a fifth (19.8%) of the sample reported using marijuana for insight or understanding and this reason was also positively related to use of hallucinogens other than LSD. And, 11% reported using marijuana to increase the effects of other drugs; this was a consistent correlate of reporting use of each drug examined in this analysis, even when controlling for sociodemographic and substance use variables. ‘Interestingly, we found that using marijuana ‘to experiment’ decreased risk of reporting use of each of the eight drugs examined before adjusting for other variables,’ said Palamar. ‘The marijuana users in this sample who used to experiment were consistently at low risk for use of nonmedical use of prescription narcotics.'”

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