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These are exciting times for cannabis enthusiasts and medical dispensaries. Earlier this week, a Reddit user discovered that marijuana was nowhere to be found on D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education)’s list of “gateway drugs.”

This is a huge victory for the cannabis community, as it pushes for legalization in mainstream sectors. Unsurprisingly, tobacco and alcohol still remains on the list that the government-backed organization removed from the site (more on this later).

Reddit Strikes Again

The timeline for the shocking update still remains a mystery. The government failed to announce the change to media outlets, and schools participating in the program didn’t receive a memo about the omission. Instead, a Reddit user uncovered the overhaul while browsing through the D.A.R.E. website. The individual then posted her findings in the Reddit r/trees thread, where it quickly became one of the most upvoted topic in the channel.

When asked about the update, Ron Brogan, regional director for D.A.R.E., highlighted that the group heavily relies on a third-party service to maintain its website. Therefore, he is unable to confirm when the changes were made, and whether or not it was done intentionally. A few days after major online news sites picked up on the issue, D.A.R.E. released a blaring post, reaffirming its views on anti-drug policies and youth awareness. The announcement was written in a bold, defensive tone (and with the title in all caps- not a common practice based on previous articles on the website), which suggests that the group was appalled with the recent events that transpired.

Several media hubs reached out to the group for clarification about the “gateway drugs” page. During an interview with Civilized, Francisco X. Pegueros, President and CEO of D.A.R.E. America, explained that the establishment never created such a list. “There’s no place in the curriculum where those substances are identified as gateway substances. I don’t recall the term ‘gateway drugs’ ever being used in the curriculum. And that goes back to the original curriculum in 1983,” said Pegueros.

To prevent further questioning, the organization removed the page from the site. But some individuals took screenshots of the page and cached versions revealed that cannabis hasn’t been on the list since 2013.

The “Exit” Drug

Pegueros does make a compelling point that “those substances,” which includes marijuana, are not identified as gateway drugs. In fact, the term “gateway drug” may not have anything to do with the actual questionable substance. Stress, depression and other internal struggles can just as easily lead people to experiment with harder drugs. Furthermore, new reports show that cannabis can be used to offset addiction from prescription opioids. In such cases, weed serves as an “exit drug” (a term coined by Civilized) for users, due to its ability to alleviate pain without risk of addiction and overdose.

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