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Gateway to Nowhere? The evidence that pot doesn't lead to heroin.
Slate ^ | July 20, 2006

Posted on 07/21/2006 5:34:00 AM PDT by Wolfie

Gateway to Nowhere?

The evidence that pot doesn't lead to heroin.

Earlier this month, professor Yasmin Hurd of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine released a study showing that rats exposed to the main ingredient in marijuana during their adolescence showed a greater sensitivity to heroin as adults. The wire lit up with articles announcing confirmation for the "gateway theory"—the claim that marijuana use leads to harder drugs.

It's a theory that has long seemed to make intuitive sense, but remained unproven. The federal government's last National Survey on Drug Use and Health, conducted in 2004, counted about 97 million Americans who have tried marijuana, compared to 3 million who have tried heroin (166,000 had used it in the previous month). That's not much of a rush through the gateway. And a number of studies have demonstrated that your chances of becoming an addict are higher if addiction runs in your family, or if heroin is readily available in your community, or if you're a risk-taker. These factors can account for the total number of heroin addicts, which could make the gateway theory superfluous.

On close inspection, Hurd's research, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, doesn't show otherwise. For the most part, it's a blow to the gateway theory. To be sure, Hurd found that rats who got high on pot as adolescents used more heroin once they were addicted. But she found no evidence that they were more likely to become addicted than the rats in the control group who'd never been exposed to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, marijuana's main ingredient.

(Excerpt) Read more at slate.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: addiction; bongbrigade; drugskilledbelushi; leroyinmouring; marijuana; potheads; preachingtochoir; warondrugs; wod; wodlist
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1 posted on 07/21/2006 5:34:02 AM PDT by Wolfie
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To: Wolfie

Despite all efforts to deny that pot is a gateway, it will never be undone.

Too many families have lived through it, or lost kids or other loved ones through the gateway.

Can't bring myself to read it. Have they proven how many heroin users/addicts did NOT start as pot users?


2 posted on 07/21/2006 5:37:33 AM PDT by silverleaf (Fasten your seat belts- it's going to be a BUMPY ride.)
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To: Wolfie

Uncle Bob's Midnight Blues Lyrics
Artist: Randy Newman
Album: 12 Songs



Goin' down to the corner
Gonna have myself a drink
Goin' down to the corner
Gonna have myself a drink
'Cause that sh*t that we been usin'
Sure confuse my thinking
Gonna send out to the drugstore
Buy myself a goat
Tie him up in my front yard
For all my so-called friends to see
Ain't nobody gonna look in my window and laugh at me
I been up so long
That it looks like down to me
Please don't talk about to me when I'm gone
Baby, are you against me too?
Had a great idea the other night
Come-A-Ti-Yi-Yippie, baby
Look out
When the blue of the night meets the gold of the day
We love you
We love you
We love you


3 posted on 07/21/2006 5:38:17 AM PDT by Vaquero ("An armed society is a polite society" Robert A. Heinlein)
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To: Wolfie
Ugg It ..... uhhh ...uhh .... I forgot. What were we talking about?
4 posted on 07/21/2006 5:39:48 AM PDT by badpacifist (Vote for DECIDERS not whiners in 2006)
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To: PaxMacian; WindMinstrel; philman_36; headsonpikes; cryptical; vikzilla; Quick1; gdani; ...
But she found no evidence that they were more likely to become addicted than the rats in the control group who'd never been exposed to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, marijuana's main ingredient.

Funny how that was left out of the other articles.

5 posted on 07/21/2006 5:39:59 AM PDT by Wolfie
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To: Wolfie
fercryinoutloud...everyone knows that breast milk is the real gateway drug.
6 posted on 07/21/2006 5:41:37 AM PDT by woollyone (Preacher; "If there was more love in the world, there'd probably be a lot less dyin'")
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To: silverleaf

Interesting -- and it confirms my suspicions.


7 posted on 07/21/2006 5:42:18 AM PDT by freedumb2003 (A Conservative will die for individual freedom. A Liberal will kill you for the good of society.)
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To: silverleaf
Despite all efforts to deny that pot is a gateway, it will never be undone.

Can't bring myself to read it.

Self-fulfilling prophecy.

8 posted on 07/21/2006 5:42:33 AM PDT by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: woollyone
fercryinoutloud...everyone knows that breast milk is the real gateway drug.

Hey, don't tell me anything...I know what I know and that's all I know... and EVERYONE knows it's that umbilical juice that gives us the hunger for heroin...it has to be...it just has to be...(covering ears, closing eyes, jumping up and down).

9 posted on 07/21/2006 5:44:16 AM PDT by rhombus
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To: silverleaf

How many heroin users started with beer? Chocolate? Cigarettes?

How many pot users become junkies? College graduates? Parents? Mere sequence of events does not prove correlation.


10 posted on 07/21/2006 5:44:48 AM PDT by worst-case scenario (Striving to reach the light)
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To: Wolfie

Biggest gateway drug of all is BEER

I would venture to say 99.9% of all addicts ( booze heroin-speed coke or what ever ) started out with BEER

Let's ban it


11 posted on 07/21/2006 5:45:10 AM PDT by uncbob
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To: worst-case scenario
How many pot users become junkies? College graduates? Parents? Mere sequence of events does not prove correlation.

Exactly. And correlation does not prove causation.

12 posted on 07/21/2006 5:46:15 AM PDT by rhombus
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To: Wolfie
Slate is such a good source. /sarcasm

Another case of "Liberaltarianism".

13 posted on 07/21/2006 5:46:28 AM PDT by bmwcyle (Only stupid people would vote for McCain, Warner, Hagle, Snowe, Graham, or any RINO)
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To: Wolfie

14 posted on 07/21/2006 5:46:32 AM PDT by Hatteras
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To: worst-case scenario

back to original question.

What research has been done to show how many heroin users did NOT start with pot.

Thank you for answering on topic.


15 posted on 07/21/2006 5:47:16 AM PDT by silverleaf (Fasten your seat belts- it's going to be a BUMPY ride.)
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To: Wolfie
Studies like this seem misguided to me. An analogy:

Would I mind if I got new neighbors, and their skin was a dark shade of brown? Not at all! Do you think I'm a racist?? The color of a person's skin is of no consequence.

Would I mind if I got new neighbors, and they embraced the Ghetto Hip-Hop Urban Trash culture? You're darn right I'd mind. I'd say "There goes the neighborhood" and I'd make plans to move. My principle worry would be that my kids would be influenced by a ruinous sub-culture.

Chemical relationships between marijuana and heroin are of no interest to me at all. But the sub-culture that embraces marijuana can be a bad sub-culture. Some folks who start off in the shallow end and end up in the deep-end of the pool. The culture is what's dangerous.

16 posted on 07/21/2006 5:49:42 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy ("He hits me, he cries, he runs to the court and sues me.")
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To: silverleaf
What research has been done to show how many heroin users did NOT start with pot.

This research of course would assume that pot is the starting place and would have to find situations where pot was not available but heroin was or any other substance that one things is the starting place. One could just as easily do some research based on any number of assumptions...e.g., heroin use starts with booze, heroin use starts with cigarettes, heroin use starts with anti-drug programs that create fascination about drugs, heroin use starts with bad studies. Assumptions are a poor way to initiate research and one does not prove the null hypothesis.

17 posted on 07/21/2006 5:52:07 AM PDT by rhombus
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To: Wolfie

If one is predisposed to smoke pot, it seems it would follow that one may be predisposed to move onto other drugs..but then again maybe not.

I know a few potheads who are just that....potheads.


18 posted on 07/21/2006 5:54:57 AM PDT by Pondman88
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To: uncbob
I would venture to say 99.9% of all addicts ( booze heroin-speed coke or what ever ) started out with BEER Let's ban it

Actually, you have to go back one step further.

Carrots. Think about it. Everyone who has had a beer has eaten carrots BEFORE they had their first beer. So, if you want to get to the root of the problem, ban carrots.

19 posted on 07/21/2006 5:56:58 AM PDT by Diverdogz
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To: silverleaf
Frankly, I have no idea. But I do not need to. Your premise is faulty. What does the phrase "start with" mean? That marijuana was the first drug ingested? How are you defining "drug" in this case?

There are many substances, certainly creating addiction or dependence, that all humans ingest. If all humans ingest them, then all heroin users, being human, have ingested these substances. Perhaps heroin users "start with" aspirin. Perhaps they "start with" sugar.

Where are your studies that beer, or sugar, or aspirin, or antacids, are not the "gateway drugs" that lead to heroin use? Don't their usages predate marijuana use? Perhaps one of them is the real culprit.

Sequence does not lead to correlation, and correlation, as noted, does NOT equal causation. You have to prove that marijuana use leads to heroin use. That is the scientific method.

Anything else is just ideology - ideas accepted as natural fact, but with scientific evidence to prove them.

20 posted on 07/21/2006 5:59:36 AM PDT by worst-case scenario (Striving to reach the light)
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To: Wolfie
The author is setting up straw men and knocking them down in such quantity my head is spinning.

The gateway theory is NOT that pot smokers become addicted to heroin more often than non-pot smokers become addicted, or that they will consume more heroin once addicted -- the theory is that they are more likely to TRY heroin. Period.

And what does the author say about this? "Her study doesn't speak to whether they'd be more likely to try the drug."

What a waste of time. Common sense says that pot smokers are more more likely to try others drugs, including stronger drugs.

21 posted on 07/21/2006 5:59:58 AM PDT by robertpaulsen
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To: worst-case scenario
err, without the scientific evidence to prove them..... Time for another cup of coffee.....
22 posted on 07/21/2006 6:02:07 AM PDT by worst-case scenario (Striving to reach the light)
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To: bmwcyle

It seems Slate is the only one reporting that the study found that exposure to marijuana was NOT a factor in the addiction rates of the rats.


23 posted on 07/21/2006 6:02:43 AM PDT by Wolfie
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To: ClearCase_guy
Studies like this seem misguided to me.

Seems like you'd be interested in the study. The first step in approaching any problem is to understand clearly what it is. If the association is cultural rather than pharmaceutical then this should be valuable information.

24 posted on 07/21/2006 6:02:59 AM PDT by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: robertpaulsen

Both groups of rats became addicted at the same rate. This was not reported in the MSM.


25 posted on 07/21/2006 6:03:56 AM PDT by Wolfie
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To: robertpaulsen
What a waste of time. Common sense says that pot smokers are more more likely to try others drugs, including stronger drugs.

Indeed. But the party line is that the problem lies in the substance, not the people.

26 posted on 07/21/2006 6:05:12 AM PDT by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: Wolfie

"Dairy products, Mandrake, childrens' dairy products.
They lead to mucus. I drink only pure, distilled water."


27 posted on 07/21/2006 6:06:27 AM PDT by tumblindice
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To: Pondman88

How 'bout parents and their peer group chain smoking cigarettes (for the early boomers before the first Surgeon General's report.) I'm partial to a 'what's on the menu' (what's not.) narrative for addiction (and gender deviancy). A lot of us spent much of our lives wrapped in a cloud of second hand cigarette smoke. Libertarianism makes for really insightful polemics, but in real life it's probably best to protect young'uns from smoke, porno and generally trashy media influence. Thank *** I never bred none in the present culture.


28 posted on 07/21/2006 6:10:24 AM PDT by Calusa (Did the Founders really intend schools to be a wonderland for sexual predators?)
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To: worst-case scenario
"You have to prove that marijuana use leads to heroin use."

No one is claiming that. Otherwise we'd have 97 million heroin users, wouldn't we?

The question is, is it more likely that a pot user would try heroin vs. a person who eats carrots trying heroin (as cited earlier)? Do you need a study to tell you what you common sense tells you?

Or are you going to sit there like a two-year-old in a highchair, kicking and screaming, demanding absolute, incontrovertible proof of that connection before you will accept it?

29 posted on 07/21/2006 6:11:46 AM PDT by robertpaulsen
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To: Wolfie

I have an alternate theory, regardless of what the article concludes......smoking marijuana on a regular basis contributes heavily in bringing out an underlying condition which many people have, but are not totally aware of. This condition is what I will call "stupid". I have 10 years or so of research on working age adults to prove it. After a weekend of casual marijuana use, even the lower THC, cheaper varieties, employees will come back to work Monday, or Tuesday in a state of "stupid".

I hope they find a cure for it, maybe by taxing pot we can convince the government to do more research on this important issue. A cure could revolutionize humanity.


30 posted on 07/21/2006 6:13:01 AM PDT by Phil Southern (Dirt is for growin' taters, asphault is for racin')
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To: uncbob; Wolfie

I'm pretty sure most kids try cigarettes before they try beer. My first illicit drug experience was a Pall Mall when I was 8 yrs old. Tried beer in my teens. Hated it. Still smoke weed. Never even tried heroin or cocaine or meth. My simple rule: no pills, no powders, and all things in moderation--including moderation.


31 posted on 07/21/2006 6:13:26 AM PDT by Huck (George Allen--the GOP version of Al Gore.)
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To: rhombus
Hey, don't tell me anything...I know what I know and that's all I know... and EVERYONE knows it's that umbilical juice that gives us the hunger for heroin...it has to be...it just has to be...(covering ears, closing eyes, jumping up and down).

Great . . . this means unless the federal government steps in and does something, my son is destined to become a pothead. Or a Democrat!

32 posted on 07/21/2006 6:13:43 AM PDT by Hemingway's Ghost (Spirit of '75)
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To: worst-case scenario

A very good point. The drug war has caused a lot more harm than its prevented. We need to reign it in.


33 posted on 07/21/2006 6:13:48 AM PDT by SmoothTalker
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To: bmwcyle
Another case of "Liberaltarianism".

Quite possibly the lamest word ever coined on FR . . .

34 posted on 07/21/2006 6:14:25 AM PDT by Hemingway's Ghost (Spirit of '75)
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To: ClearCase_guy
Chemical relationships between marijuana and heroin are of no interest to me at all. But the sub-culture that embraces marijuana can be a bad sub-culture. Some folks who start off in the shallow end and end up in the deep-end of the pool. The culture is what's dangerous.

I completely agree with this. There is a universe of difference between a person who smokes pot, and a person who smokes pot and becomes immersed in the whole "pot" lifestyle.

35 posted on 07/21/2006 6:16:17 AM PDT by Hemingway's Ghost (Spirit of '75)
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To: Hemingway's Ghost
Great . . . this means unless the federal government steps in and does something, my son is destined to become a pothead. Or a Democrat!

Keep hope alive. I did everything I could to keep my son from becoming a Democrat. Now he hangs out in Boston too much and already I see the urban infection setting in. I suppose he'll expect the military to save his ass when the war breaks out. I tried nothing and nothing works! He STILL isn't a pothead.

36 posted on 07/21/2006 6:18:54 AM PDT by rhombus
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To: robertpaulsen
Common sense says that pot smokers are more more likely to try others drugs, including stronger drugs.

Why does "common sense" say that? The study that is cited in the article seems to indicate just the opposite.... 97 million pot users, 3 million heroin users. What percentage of the 97 million that have tried pot have tried heroin? Any figures on that? Perhaps it's just the opposite of what you believe to be "common sense" - pot smokers think that pot, mind-altering but less addictive than heroin, is a warning not to venture further.

You're making an assumption about attitudes, and then an assumption about a connection between attitude and behavior. Are people who ride bicycles as children "more likely" to drive autos as adults, because they become used to personal transportation by machine? (Just "common sense", after all.) Or do they learn to drive at the same rate as the rest of the population? I don't know. But I cannot assume the causation.

And I certainly couldn't logically argue that bicycle-riding is the "gateway" to drunken driving. Common sense needs to be supported with facts, or it's just superstition.

37 posted on 07/21/2006 6:19:18 AM PDT by worst-case scenario (Striving to reach the light)
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To: robertpaulsen
Common sense says that pot smokers are more more likely to try others drugs, including stronger drugs.

You may not appreciate this distinction, but I would say those who would smoke pot are more likely to be willing to try other drugs. In other words, I truly don't believe that there is anything inherent in smoking marijuana that causes someone to try other drugs. But obviously, there's a large group of people unwilling to try illegal drugs at all, and a smaller group that is willing. It makes perfect sense that there would be more heroin users coming from that smaller group. I'm quite sure that the incidence of heroin use among non- potsmoking church ladies is extremely low. Sort of goes without saying, doesn't it?

Do you get what I mean? But that doesn't mean that smoking pot causes heroin use or cocaine use or even makes it more likely. I guess what I'd say is that all this boils down to is that someone who does drugs is more likely to do drugs. Duh. It's like saying high school football players are more likely to play basketball than science club geeks. But that doesn't mean football LEADS to basketball. It just means that from the group that does the one, you'll get more who do the other. Reasonable?

38 posted on 07/21/2006 6:19:18 AM PDT by Huck (George Allen--the GOP version of Al Gore.)
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To: Wolfie
Does anyone know if a reputable study has been done with regards to any correlation between binge drinking and later heroin addiction? Or even social drinking for that matter? (OK, the second question was just me being a SA.)
39 posted on 07/21/2006 6:20:23 AM PDT by VRWCtaz (A challenge to Liberals: I will read any book you name - if you will do the same. (very few takers))
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To: Wolfie

So, out of 97 million pot smokers, 3 million have tried heroin, about 3 percent. I wonder what percent of 97 million non-pot smokers have tried heroin? I suspect it's probably far lower than 3 percent.

Although the likelihood of trying heroin is very small among pot smokers, it is probably far higher than among abstainers. This is not because of any physical dependency effect of pot, but, rather, because of a social effect. For example, the odds of one day running for political office are probably very small among members of high school debate teams. But they are probably far higher than they would be among students in high school auto shop classes.


40 posted on 07/21/2006 6:20:42 AM PDT by zook ("We all knew someone in primary school who had a really powerful magnet")
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To: robertpaulsen
What a waste of time. Common sense says that pot smokers are more more likely to try others drugs, including stronger drugs.

Because pot smokers demonstrate a willingness to "risk" in order to acquire and smoke pot? I can see the sense in that. But that says nothing at all about whether pot should be criminalized . . . it only says that people willing to take a small risk are probably more willing than others to take a bigger risk.

41 posted on 07/21/2006 6:21:33 AM PDT by Hemingway's Ghost (Spirit of '75)
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To: rhombus
He STILL isn't a pothead.

111 liters of Phish music. STAT!

42 posted on 07/21/2006 6:22:36 AM PDT by Hemingway's Ghost (Spirit of '75)
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To: robertpaulsen
Or are you going to sit there like a two-year-old in a highchair, kicking and screaming, demanding absolute, incontrovertible proof of that connection before you will accept it?

When will you accept that the same connection exists with people who use alcohol?

43 posted on 07/21/2006 6:24:36 AM PDT by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: silverleaf
I've tried pot a couple of times. Nothing recent.

Still no "urge" to try heroin.

The exception doesn't prove the rule, but statistically, the gateway theory has about as much validity as Algore's global warming theories do.

44 posted on 07/21/2006 6:29:56 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (It is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath.- Aeschylus)
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To: Wolfie
"Both groups of rats became addicted at the same rate."

Sure, that's plausible. Heroin is highly addictive.

But, as I said in my post, that has nothing to do with the gateway theory. As correctly stated by the author, it is "the claim that marijuana use leads to harder drugs". The theory says that pot users are more likely to try other drugs, including harder drugs.

And if a higher percentage of pot smokers (vs. carrot eaters or milk drinkers) try harder drugs, that will naturally result in a higher number addicted, even if the addiction rate is the same.

45 posted on 07/21/2006 6:30:05 AM PDT by robertpaulsen
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To: robertpaulsen
A two-year-old doesn't demand "incontrovertible proof." It demands what it wants, what its hunger demands, nothing more.

And I am not, as an adult, demanding such proof either. We, all of us, realize that such proof does not exist in this fallible world.

But I do demand some unbiased, tested results, which may or may not be sufficient proof. Yes, I need a study to prove to me what "common sense" seems to indicate. There are just too many things that "common sense" says is "right", and that are incontrovertibly wrong.

For instance, the world is not flat. The Sun does not orbit the Earth. A cannonball, even though heavier, does not fall faster than a wooden ball.

That is what the Scientific Revolution was all about ... being willing to take "common sense", received wisdom, assumptions, and put them to the test. It wasn't about putting one's fingers in one's ears and saying, "La la la, I can't hear you because I don't like what you're telling me, it goes against my common sense."

46 posted on 07/21/2006 6:30:59 AM PDT by worst-case scenario (Striving to reach the light)
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To: Phil Southern

LOL--but after the weekend-even without pot-I bet people are stupid. I am pretty stupid on Mondays!!!

And you didn't even mention people who booze on the weekends, I bet they are stupid and hurting!!!


47 posted on 07/21/2006 6:31:09 AM PDT by Pondman88
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To: Hemingway's Ghost
111 liters of Phish music. STAT!

There ya go. Does anyone need any more proof that Phish music is gateway music. How many more will suffer before we wise up and fund a multi-billion dollar War on Phish. Can you believe the Catholic Church used to support eating fish on Friday's? Coincidence? I think not. Davinci had something there - loaves and fishes, teach a man to fish? There's a reason the NY Times is called fishwrap. Think about it...OK, that's enough.

48 posted on 07/21/2006 6:32:13 AM PDT by rhombus
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To: Diverdogz

No! I think it mother's milk!


49 posted on 07/21/2006 6:34:53 AM PDT by usslsm51
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To: rhombus

Rhombus, you're cracking me up! Are you really Ali G in disguise?


50 posted on 07/21/2006 6:35:38 AM PDT by worst-case scenario (Striving to reach the light)
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