Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mixing Tobacco and Marijuana: Hardly a Good Match


There are many studies that report on the harmful health effects of smoking tobacco, such as cancer, respiratory disease (bronchitis, emphysema and asthma) and heart disease.

Even thou Marijuana is still deemed illegal by Federal regulations in the USA, most health professionals consider its consumption to bring more good than harm to the adult consumers. Actually, there is a good chance that weed become legal for recreational purposes in Colorado and Washington States after the November votes. A new poll, conducted by Huffington Post and YouGov, has support for marijuana legalization at an astounding 59% amongst all Americans – the largest support yet recorded in a nationwide poll. Only 26% of respondents responded that marijuana should remain illegal.

Public opinion shift shows clearly that Marijuana legalization is just matter of time, but getting out to the consumer market may highlight a question if mixing tobacco and marijuana is a good idea. While is not very popular in the USA and Australia, the habit of mixing weed with tobacco and rolling “spliffs” is widely spread over the Europe.

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Why people are mixing weed with tobacco?

Some people just like the taste, other claim that the THC effect stronger when these two components are smoked together. While these are two subjective reasons, there are some which can be considered more generic:
·         Since Marijuana is illegal, and tobacco is legal, hiding weed in the hand-rolled cigarette or pipes might be quite achievable, especially with either aromatic pipe tobacco or a strong fresh hand rolled tobacco, while smoking in public. Usually, mixing is arranged in 2:1 ratio with 2 for tobacco to 1 for cannabis, with some users placing extra tobacco on each end of the cigarette.
·         Marijuana is burning somewhat slower when it is mixed with tobacco.
·         Smokers usually notice that smoking weed straight gets them stoned rather quirkier than for the case when weed is mixed with tobacco, allowing slow down and come gradually to a nice stone.
·         When mixed with tobacco, Marijuana evaporation efficiency slightly increases.

In latest study cannabis material has been mixed with tobacco in order to determine whether tobacco has an influence on the amount of and ratio between tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabinol (CBN) administered while smoking. A small-scale smoking machine has been used and cannabis mixed with various ratios of tobacco was smoked. The trapped smoke was quantitatively analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and the amount of THC, CBG, and CBN was determined for each cigarette.

It has been found that tobacco increases the amount of THC inhaled per gram of cannabis from 32.70 ± 2.29 mg/g for a 100% cannabis cigarette to 58.90 ± 2.30 mg/g for a 25% cannabis cigarette. This indicates that tobacco increases the vaporization efficiency of THC by as much as 45% under the conditions tested.

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Negative effect of smoking marijuana mixed with tobacco

International reports have found specific links between smoking both tobacco and marijuana, claiming that smoking both marijuana and tobacco increases health risks rather than smoking each alone.

Mixing tobacco with marijuana is polydrug use. Nicotine is an addictive drug and the combination of these two substances increases exposure to tar and other carcinogens, causing greater risks to the lungs, respiratory organs as well as the cardiovascular system.

Marijuana smokers are also at risk of developing nicotine dependence if they mix tobacco with their marijuana.

Compared to tobacco cigarette smokers, people who smoke marijuana typically:
  • Inhale more smoke (two-thirds larger puff volume);
  • Inhale the smoke deeper into the lungs (one-third greater depth of inhalation);
  • Hold the smoke in the lungs for longer time periods (up to four times longer).

This results in the lungs being exposed to:
  • Greater amounts of carbon monoxide and other smoke irritants;
  • Greater retention of tar in the respiratory tract.

Both carbon monoxide and tar increase the risks of a range of health problems including respiratory tract infections, bronchitis and lung cancer.

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While there are no any known direct interactions on neuronal level between tobacco and marijuana because these two drugs produce two different types of neuronal signaling (THC effects the endocannabinoid system, while nicotine mostly effects cholinergic neurons), co-consumption may lead to other negative effects (which are mostly behavioral), like the following:
  1. The two drugs have opposite effects on cognition.  While nicotine increases cognition, THC causes cognition to get decreased.
  2. Both drugs are anti-anxiety, and their combinatorial effects may increase dependence.
  3. Nicotine is an eating suppressant, while THC induces eating.  Co-consumption can negate the effects on eating.
  4. Taking both drugs simultaneously can affect the withdrawal symptoms.
  5. Marijuana has been reported to partially block the nicotine receptors, so the tobacco smokers may increase they daily consumption of the cigarettes to keep the familiar tonus.
  6. Cannabis contains more than THC it has a larger variety of cannabinoids some of which are identified. Each breed/strain of cannabis plant contains different levels of different cannabinoids and no matter how much research has been done, no one is anywhere close to finding out all the possible interactions that are possible with different cannabinoid combinations.
  7. Most smokers reported that mixing weed and tobacco in a pipe causes the smoke to get hotter and harsher, affecting the positive perception. Pure weed is still hot, but feels smoother and easier to hold in.

Summary

While there were no independent researches on the topic, we still consider marijuana and tobacco as undesirable mix, based on all information available from professionals and regular users’ feedbacks.

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