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A liquor selection displayed on the wall of a bar.

New research challenges the notion that cannabis is a gateway drug, suggesting that alcohol holds that title instead. In a groundbreaking study, it was discovered that young individuals overwhelmingly experiment with alcohol prior to trying cannabis or tobacco. This finding contradicts the long-standing belief that cannabis acts as a gateway, leading to the use of more potent and hazardous substances.

New Info on Gateway Drugs

The study, which delved into the sequencing of substance use among young people, aimed to determine whether trying cannabis before alcohol or tobacco had any correlation with future substance misuse. Surprisingly, the researchers found that the practice of initiating cannabis before alcohol or tobacco was relatively uncommon, accounting for only 6% of cases.

To gather their findings, the researchers analyzed data from over 8,000 young individuals obtained through the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study. This data included information on whether they had ever used alcohol, cannabis, or tobacco, as well as the age at which they first experimented with these substances. By examining the associations between cannabis initiation and substance use within the past 30 days, the researchers gained valuable insights.

Summary of Study

The results unequivocally demonstrated that alcohol takes precedence over both tobacco and cannabis when it comes to initial experimentation. In fact, a staggering majority of young people try alcohol before turning to either tobacco or cannabis. Only 9% of individuals who reported using cannabis admitted to trying it before alcohol and tobacco. On the other hand, a higher percentage (21.8%) indicated using cannabis at the same age as alcohol or tobacco.

Furthermore, the study revealed an interesting correlation between the sequence of substance use and the prevalence of substance misuse issues. Those who experimented with cannabis first were less likely to experience substance misuse problems compared to those who tried other substances concurrently. This suggests a potential protective effect of cannabis initiation preceding alcohol or tobacco use.

The Results Are In

The researchers concluded that discouraging cannabis initiation alongside multiple substances could have significant public health benefits. They emphasized that alcohol is undeniably the primary substance tried before tobacco or cannabis, while initiating cannabis prior to alcohol and tobacco remains infrequent. Additionally, individuals who introduced cannabis before alcohol and tobacco displayed a lower likelihood of developing a wide range of substance use and mental health vulnerabilities compared to those who experimented with cannabis at the same age as other substances.

Other Studies Confirm What the Real Gateway Drug Is

These findings are not isolated, as previous studies have also refuted the gateway theory. For instance, a study conducted at the University of Washington revealed that after the legalization of cannabis for adult-use, young people exhibited reduced consumption of alcohol, nicotine, and non-prescribed pain medication. The research, which examined trends among over 12,500 young adults in Washington State, concluded that the implementation of legal non-medical cannabis coincided with decreased alcohol and cigarette use, as well as diminished pain reliever misuse.

Passionate About Wellness

Here at Passion Flower, we believe that one can achieve total wellness through recreational cannabis. Even if you’re not a smoker, there are ways to consume cannabis without compromising your comfort. For example, our Nectar Drops are flavored and come with measured doses. One drop is 1mG of THC. This allows for you to pick your own dose carefully and curate your own high based on your needs.

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Passion Flower’s Nectar Drops glowing in the sunlight.


While Nectar Drops are currently the only edible we have available, we have discreet options for smokers as well, such as cartridges and concentrates. Furthermore, our parent company, Fairwinds Manufacturing also includes a wide-array of products that don’t require smoking. Cannabis is so much more than sparking up. We may use it as a mode to achieve our highest selves without becoming dependent or compromising our physical health. I could go into the health benefits on cannabis, but that’s another article.


In light of this emerging evidence, the notion that cannabis is a gateway drug loses credibility. Instead, it appears that alcohol assumes that role, as it is overwhelmingly tried before tobacco or cannabis. The findings also highlight the potential protective effects associated with initiating cannabis before alcohol or tobacco, suggesting that it may even shield individuals from future alcohol use. As the scientific community continues to explore this topic, it is essential to base discussions and policies on accurate and up-to-date research.