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Is cannabis a gateway to hard drugs?

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Abstract

The gateway hypothesis proposes that use of cannabis directly increases the risk of consuming hard drugs. We test this controversial, but influential, hypothesis on a sample of cannabis users, exploiting a unique set of drug price data. A flexible approach is developed to identify the causal gateway effect using a bivariate survival model with shared frailty estimated using a latent class approach. The model suggests two distinct groups; a smaller group of “troubled youths” for whom there is a statistically significant gateway effect that more than doubles the hazard of starting to use hard drugs and a larger fraction of youths for whom previous cannabis use has less impact.

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Correspondence to Hans Olav Melberg.

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Melberg, H.O., Jones, A.M. & Bretteville-Jensen, A.L. Is cannabis a gateway to hard drugs?. Empir Econ 38, 583–603 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00181-009-0280-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00181-009-0280-z

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