Jordan Smith’s Austin Chronicle column this week, recently renamed from “Weed Watch” to “Reefer Madness”, reports on Bertha Madras’ recent press conference in Austin, Texas. (Madras is the deputy director for demand reduction at the ONDCP.)

Madras misquoted a study by Mount Sinai School of Medicine professor Yasmin Hurd, published in July in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, as proof of the gateway theory for saying rats exposed to marijuana were twice as likely to use heroin later as adults. In fact, Smith points out, they become addicted at the same rate, although the ones exposed to THC at an earlier time did use somewhat larger amounts.

I looked for the study itself, and in doing so ran across this interesting tidbit about the researcher:

Hurd feels that softening the law against marijuana at this point would be "ridiculous", given the number of unknowns about its effects. She adds that two other drugs that also stimulate opioid cells, and could therefore also feasibly cause a gateway effect, are nicotine and alcohol. "If we turned back the clock with the knowledge we have now, these two drugs would never have been legalized," Hurd says. [Emphasis Mine]

Apparently Hurd remembers back fondly on the time when everything was illegal, and we had to ask our government to “legalize” bread and water and other items for us to use. 

On perhaps a more serious note, I will end with my frequent plea that we use the term “decriminalize” not “legalize” when talking about drug policy reform. This shows just one more reason: it properly focuses the debate on the fact that the criminalization movement is really the new kid in town.