Why it may be impossible to determine if cannabis is a gateway to using opioids

Many people want a yes or no answer on whether marijuana is a gateway to opioid addiction. 

Experts agree it isn’t that simple. 

“It’s this impossible question to answer,” said Dr. Kevin Gray, professor and director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina. 

At a recent lectureship hosted by MUSC, experts touched on the causes and solutions of the opioid epidemic. One of topics included a discussion of whether marijuana is a gateway drug leading to opioid use.

The general consensus: There needs to be more research.

“The reality is that these things are complicated,” said Gray, who attended the discussion. 

Research needed

For long time the United States has been in the midst of an opioid epidemic. In 2017, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that most of the more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths involved opioids. For the same year, the National Institute on Drug abuse reported

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