I remember being a young fresh faced, beginner stoner, around the age of fifteen or sixteen and while I had smoked weed before then, I was very secretive of it as I still subscribed to the popular belief instilled upon you in school that weed is a dangerous drug. However, towards the end of my life in compulsory education, I slipped the shackles of my superiors and began to see first-hand that marijuana was not the danger I originally perceived it to be. Going halves on a ten or an eighth with my friends and smoking it around numerous locations in my town did not make me feel like an addict or a ‘drug user’ however quite the opposite, It made me feel relaxed and somewhat liberated. This view was never one held by the majority of my peers in school, and whilst I longed for them to see it my way, I kind of enjoyed being part of something unknown to most, sort of like a counter-culture.
Whilst I was immersed in a world of marijuana-infused bliss and instilled with a sense that marijuana was the solution to all the world's ailments, the major argument I heard from others against this was that cannabis was a gateway drug which could easily lead to usage of much heavier drugs. Now in hindsight I have found this to generally untrue, for myself at least, as any other drugs I have taken have not been in the same way as marijuana. For instance, there has never been another drug I’ve taken anywhere nearly as regularly, and most other drugs I have taken have generally been ‘party drugs’ taken in small amounts and generally come as an extension of alcohol.
This is not to say that I have not known people who, in phases, have taken heavier drugs regularly (not the heaviest drugs) who began by smoking weed, however I would argue that this drug usage has been far more a product of the environment in which they resided as opposed to stemming from them smoking marijuana at an early age or any age really.