Marijuana is the world’s drug of choice. This is evident to travelers and entrepreneurs, as well as researchers parsing Erowid, the online drug encyclopedia. A group called Chemical Youth at the University of Amsterdam has just finished cataloguing all the personal testimonies on the site to get a snapshot of how people have been using drugs over the past decade and which drugs they’ve been using together. Turns out that cannabis plays well with others.

The research team was not specifically focused on cannabis itself. The group chose to track occurrences of the harder drugs, eliminating from their analysis over 10,000 descriptions of drug use that did not include one of the more substantial substances. So the data shows us that among people taking harder drugs, cannabis is the go-to appetizer.

The data set tracks co-use of drugs over time, and cannabis remains consistently strong, but is losing ground in some fields as MDMA becomes more popular. Since about 2011, people taking cocaine have been much more likely to supplement their high with ecstasy than cannabis. A psychedelic called 25I-NBOMe, which hit the scene in 2010, has displaced cannabis among amphetamine users as the most popular secondary. However, cannabis remains strongly preferred among those taking salvia and eating magic mushrooms.

Cannabis is a central node among hard drug users.

The analysis nicely reflects the entrance of designer and prescription into the marketplace. 5-meo-dmt, and 2cb both show up in the analysis, jockeying for position among the more established substances. Oxycodone and Fluoxetine, known to many as Prozac, also make appearances.

Among users of amphetamines, Cannabis was the most popular supplement until 2014 when 25I-NBOMe overtook it. 

While most people probably think of cannabis as one of the chiller drugs on the spectrum, this analysis does show that it sticks around as people move into stronger territory. Cannabis isn’t just a gateway drug, it’s a corridor drug. It is the connection between different experiences.