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January 8th, 2014
12:42 AM ET

Gone to Pot: Is marijuana addictive?

Some substance abuse experts are afraid that Colorado's new marijuana law will lead to a rise in addiction. Gary Tuchman reports.

Plus, Dr. Drew and Carl Hart, Columbia University psychology professor and author of "High Price", debate whether pot is a gateway drug.

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Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Dr. Drew • Dr. Drew Pinsky • Gary Tuchman • Gone to Pot • Marijuana
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. James

    I don't understand why people still debate about this topic. The baby boomer generation were brainwashed simply because the 1930's generation were brainwashed. I don't advicate marijuiana usage nor do i think being a pothead is benefical to society. It is not harmless but still can cause issues mainly because most people WITH psychatric problems use pot and alcohol to self-medicated their psychatric issues. If anyone wants to learn about drugs, don't get it from people; instead ask a good doctor or go on the internet and do some good research

    January 16, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
  2. Sergio Vasquez

    Alcohol and Cigarettes are addictive yet are being sold everywhere.

    January 9, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
  3. Chris

    gee, i hope some "professionals" read this.. but let me explain something missing from the big picture that is "gateway drugs". ill explain the major factor all professionals and general society miss all together. so much so, people in all walks of life don't even realize they are missing this first key factor. in my life, i started smoking marijuana illegally when i was 19, after already having left high school and being in the real world on my own. i started smoking weed for the sake of its negation (undoing) of certain symptoms from which i do suffer. you see, i started smoking weed because i have anxiety issues, lack of appetite, and insomnia. well lets look at this closer, i didn't smoke because my high school, middle school, or elementary school friends did, i chose to do it for my self, for my own reasons. now, lets go back further than 19, i started drinking when i was 12.. and got sick of it being a waste of money and time, so i stopped generally around 25. i may drink now once or possibly twice in a three year period. i started smoking cigarettes when i was 10, and still hopelessly addicted to nicotine. but on thing i recall that people often forget is caffeine. i started drinking soda probably around 5 or 6, and started sneaking coffee around 8 years old. is not caffeine the "most" addictive drug to humans? yet it is entirely un-regulated at all. each and every day when i wake up, the first thing i do, is start my coffee brewing. ill drink about 12 cups before leaving my house. i do take a couple of hits off a marijuana pipe in the morning so i can find an appetite, apparently it is important to eat, so i force myself to. in my life, the only time i have withdrawal symptoms is when i don't have enough caffeine. if i only had enough money to buy one thing at the store, i will always choose coffee, over cigarettes, over food, and over marijuana (in that order). maybe it is time for the professionals to take a much closer look at caffeine, as that is probably what causes all of my symptoms that i self medicate away with the use of marijuana. its no big deal to see a child in a store buying themselves some soda is it? no one thinks twice about it, parents give their kids caffeine and that could very likely be exactly the largest most potent "gateway" drug of them all. now i should say, that i never once did any other drug aside of marijuana, tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana; the reason is simple, as i started marijuana at the age of 19, i knew not to try anything else because i have an "addictive personality", so i worked on removing booze from my life and stayed away from the other more serious drugs. i wont even take morphine in a hospital, and i have never used the prescribed pain medications any time i had them. so, really, my whole point in this comment, is me asking the professionals to take a really close look at the drug that is most common and not regulated at all, caffeine.

    January 8, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
  4. Michael

    This argument was settled long ago. When is USAmerica going to grow up?

    Even if new addictive strains have been developed by pharmacology savvy white colour criminals, so many other perfectly legal substances that are highly addictive are available, even to children. Sugar, Caffeine, Nicotine, Alcohol and carefully designed combinations of these and other less well known drugs permeate the food supply.

    Stop wasting time, money keeping pot illegal and stop wasting our patience repeating the same old arguments ad nauseum.

    January 8, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
  5. Jenn

    Rarely do I post my political thoughts.... but over this past week these comments on addiction and gateway drugs are ignorant. I was brought up in a very family oriented environment... immediate family and inherited family. My parents are still married, church going and quite happy. I was brought up in an environment that encouraged experimentation. No, they were not "hippie peace freaks" ... although I would be proud either way. But, I was brought up with alcohol and marijuana readily and easily available. Along with encyclopedias, books and dictionaries. We were taught about moderation in everything and anything including prescription drugs. I was diagnosed with ADD at 7, I was given Ritalin. After 3 days my parents took me off of it... their conclusion in laymen's terms... it made me stupid. They helped teach me how to control it. That was their job. Since I was brought up with alcohol, it wasn't a big deal to have a glass of wine or a sip of moms margarita at 12/13 years old. By 15, I asked for a drink out of respect alone, my parents had taught me moderation, I was introduced to marijuana at 16, I kept my parents teachings in mind even though I was still experimenting, and of course realized that my parents smoked also. The smell alone gave it away. Because we always talked, and I never was scared to ask my parents questions... I asked them about it. Of course.. the books came out... encyclopedias, dictionaries, other books in my parents library I never noticed. I read a lot about it, from many different views. Ultimately, my parents said that it was one of Gods gifts, and we should use it responsibly. No... I'm not kidding.. that's what they said. At 25 I was diagnosed bi-polar. Let me tell you something... out of all of the prescription drugs and therapy I have been through... and I gave it at minimum 10 years of blood tests, therapy, different medications, doses, which take forever to mix and match for the right dose which is almost flipping impossible... I have come to this conclusion... I can keep calm with a single hit of pot instead of freaking out on someone... I can go sit in the sunshine or a tanning bed to come up if I think I'm going down in depression... I can surround myself with good supportive people who are educated to keep my mind nimble and functioning... but bottom line... I have quit smoking pot for years because it was necessary, without a second thought. It's not addictive! I have tried other drugs.. yes, and addictive ones too... but they were not for me... moderation was not part of that picture. It's not a gateway drug! Of course moderation in everything was what I was taught by parents who paid attention. I am quite happy to say that I am not only college educated (under almost impossible conditions and without any govt help) I am quite successful making more than above average income. I have opened and sold more than one successful restaurant. I have a choice... I can use marijuana in moderation to slow down and not blow things out of proportion, I can use sunshine to stay happy. I shouldn't have to be dependent on some drug I have zero clue about to take for the rest of my life to make me feel dumbed down and stupid. Like I should actually trust our govts drugs over nature! HAH! The drugs doctors want me to take make me feel like I am walking under water with concrete shoes. Slow and non functioning. I need my thoughts... just not coming so fast... small doses of marijuana slows those thoughts down so I can focus. But not so dumb, that I cannot run a successful business. So please consider the thoughts of a well functioning 43 year old business owner. Pay attention to your children... teach them right from wrong, and the rest will come easily to them, whatever may stand in their way. This is America... we know right, we know wrong. Marijuana can and is being used for good. To be perfectly honest, I'd rather it be used as a recreational drug than alcohol by far. It's helped me continue to be a well functioning person instead of a dumb drugged out unstable person.

    January 8, 2014 at 5:30 am |
  6. Betty Elkins

    I just watched the pot debate with Dr. Drew and the Professor...while it may be entertaining for those who know nothing about the dangers of pot, neither of them know much about the real issues. Dr. Drew is sort of a joke to people who know about addiction. He is, of course, a celebrity addiction/rehab doctor and is not a recovering addict, which is pretty much a requirement for "real" rehab facilities. His agreement with the liberal professor is an indication of his lack of knowledge. If you want to know the truth about pot, try calling Dr. Howard Samuels. As a parent who has buried two children who were unable to survive their addictions, I know first hand and very painfully the role that pot plays in an addicts drug choices. I believe my second son who died would most likely be alive today if he could have stopped using pot. Although he received treatment at numerous highly recognized and credible rehab facilities, pot was the one drug he could never give up. It was easy for him to justify (just as your professor did tonight) so he had the support of people like your professor and made the choice to keep using it in spite of the advice of the experts who knew the truth. I hope your professor and the many others who are ignorant of the damage caused by pot, never have to experience what I have to learn the truth.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:51 am |
    • billy j white

      so you have evidence of the only person in the world to die from marijuana intoxication?

      January 9, 2014 at 6:54 pm |
      • Mike Parent

        Can't we do both? Look at all the carbon eating trees we'd save if we used renewable Hemp instead of trees.

        January 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
  7. Shawn Nelson

    Marijuana, is it that important than saving the world. When the world ends with no clean air, Marijuana wont be a issue. Our future is at stake here because of Climate change. Air is our future, water, land, and food was one way life was explain to me by my grandparents. I guess they were right. We will lose everything of being a human being. Wake up people we need clean air now.

    Shawn Nelson Turquoise man

    January 8, 2014 at 1:50 am |

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