Adding tobacco into joints is widely practiced in Europe and, to a degree, Australia and New Zealand. It is an old habit that dates back to the 60s and the 70s, at a time when access to cannabis was limited. Hashish, on the other hand, was readily available.
Smoking hash, though, is not entirely a pleasant experience as it is harsh on the throat. Hence, it became common for Europeans to mix hashish with tobacco, making it easier to smoke.
Today, cannabis is not only widely available but more potent than ever. In fact, many of the most popular and remarkable strains were created in Europe. Still, this method of consumption remains popular. Not in the United States, though, as many have not even heard of combining tobacco with weed.
Mixing Tobacco with Cannabis
In the United States, the act of adding tobacco into joints is called “spliff.” Already there are several preconceived notions on its advantages.
1. The cost of dried herbs vary. Suffice to say, it may be cheaper or costlier than tobacco. Some people think spliff is cost-effective, especially when the weed is of premium quality and, therefore, expensive.
2. In most cases, it is the beginners who end up overindulging. The reduced amount of herb used in a spliff minimizes the chance of excessive THC intake, thus avoiding adverse reactions such as anxiety and paranoia.
3. Mixing tobacco adds stability to the dried herbs and helps make rolling joints easier.
4. The smell of tobacco can mask the smell of weed, thereby avoiding arousing suspicion. It is a discreet way of consuming cannabis in places where there are strangers.
5. For tobacco smokers, why not kill two birds with one stone?
Depending on who you talk to, the high delivered by spliff is either mellow or more intense. Perhaps more accurately, it depends on how large the joint is – or how much weed it contains.
The tobacco to cannabis ratio could be 1:1, or whatever you desire. Considering that the amount of weed is lessened, then it follows that there is less THC intake hence the subdued high.
One study tested the effects of adding tobacco to joints and found that there were no changes in the psychoactive experience. It did appear that nicotine may counteract memory impairment caused by cannabis.
Researchers, in another study, also found up to a 45% increase in vaporization efficiency of THC due to tobacco. It is, therefore, possible that some individuals may experience a more pronounced high, despite the lesser amount of dried herbs used.
Dangers of Mixing Tobacco and Weed
The ill-effects of tobacco are well-researched and widely known. It can increase coronary heart disease and stroke by 2 to 4 times. Both men and women are also 25 times more likely to develop lung cancer. As for cannabis, it remains unknown if smoking joints can increase the risk of cancer as present studies are still in the infancy stage.
Spliff can be considered an example of polydrug use – a term used to describe combining two intoxicating substances to enhance the effects. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to account for all the factors that make it possible to predict its impact – both beneficial and otherwise. Hence, it is a mistake to look at the potential adverse effects of both substances as individual substances.
Between the two, tobacco is more addictive than cannabis. When used in combination, research shows that one substance may increase the demand, craving, and liking of the other one. Consequently, the risk of dependence increases.
Arguing For and Against
In the United States, the number of cigarettes smoked annually is 1,017 – or roughly 3 per day. Heavy smokers can consume 1-2 packs (20-40) daily. Cannabis, on the other hand, is different. THC can be incredibly overwhelming that it is unlikely for anyone to chain smoke joints.
An individual who uses cannabis but does not smoke tobacco should stay away from spliff. Nicotine, at best, makes it appear that the effects are heightened as it hits the brain first before THC. It is also going to increase the risk of addiction. Furthermore, combusting weed and tobacco leaves results in more free radicals and toxic substances that pose long-term health risks.
As for tobacco smokers, adding weed can be a way to decrease the amount of nicotine intake. The reduction, though, is not significant and does not lower the associated health risks.
A Case for Vaping vs. Smoking
Even if you were to smoke weed without tobacco, burning the plant materials produce toxic chemicals that are ingested. Vaping is an excellent substitute because the vapor produced is at a temperature just below combustion. Comparatively, smoke from joints contains 25% cannabinoids. Vape, on the other hand, contains 95% – thus providing a way better hit.
Should You Add Tobacco to Weed?
Using cannabis is a choice. As more states legalize its medical use (some also recreational), it is also up to the public to exercise sound judgment and be responsible.
The benefit of spliff – with regards to effects – is marginal. It may feel like the onset of the energizing rush is quicker. It is, in fact, nicotine that reaches the brain before THC does. This is the same substance that causes addiction. Not to mention, polydrug use can present more problems than you bargained for in the near and far future.
If you are going to smoke weed, then do so without adding tobacco that brings more harm.
To answer the question – no.