In 2003, Reason argued that cannabis prohibition is the real gateway to substance-use progression. The study described the drug succession as follows:
A person who breaks the law to try cannabis becomes less reluctant to break the law again to try hard drugs
Once the person realizes the government lied about cannabis, he or she is less inclined to believe official warnings about other substances
Once individuals purchase cannabis on the black market, they likely have the opportunity to purchase harder drugs
In 2012, the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal published a study that largely debunked the gateway hypothesis. The team of authors concluded that association does not demonstrate causation, and common underpinnings better explain the progression to hard drugs than specific staging. Furthermore, the same journal in 2010 conducted a multi-national study that made the gateway theory appear even more implausible. Looking at 18- to 29-year-olds in Japan, the authors noted that cannabis is used less than other illicit substances (4.5 vs. 4.8 percent), and an astonishing 83.2 percent took hard drugs without first trying cannabis. Indeed, if scientific conclusions can be based purely on observational associations, one could argue that Pokémon is the real gateway drug in Japan.