Once again, the subject of combining cannabis with tobacco has found itself thrust well and truly into the spotlight. And once again, evidence appears to suggest that doing so does more harm than good. While some believe that mixing cannabis with tobacco gets you higher or is safer than smoking pure pot, science would seem to suggest that neither theory holds any truth whatsoever.
The latest study (and the first of its kind) looked into the way in which tobacco and cannabis interact with each other when combined. The conclusion was that while it has no impact whatsoever on the resulting high, it could possibly serve to reduce the short-term memory loss associated with heavy cannabis consumption.
Unfortunately, the benefits didn’t come close to outweighing the drawbacks.
“There’s a persistent myth that adding tobacco to cannabis will make you more stoned, but we found that actually, it does nothing to improve the subjective experience,” said Chandni Hindocha, a clinical psychologist and the lead author of the study.
The project essentially involved providing a group of cannabis users with a wide variety of joints, each of which contained cannabis, cannabis and tobacco or a combination of placebos. They were then asked to report back on the overall experience.
Unsurprisingly, short-term memory loss was closely associated with the consumption of pure cannabis. However, the association diminished significantly when tobacco was introduced. The research is linked to the connotations tobacco has with improved concentration, though also the fact that THC intake is of course reduced when tobacco is used to ‘dilute’ cannabis.
However, the scientists also noted an additional risk factor that presented itself when cannabis was mixed with tobacco. The results of the study showed a relatively high increase in the participants’ blood pressure when tobacco and cannabis were mixed together. The researchers therefore stated that combining the two substances increases cardiovascular risk, when compared to smoking cannabis without adding any tobacco.
The authors of the study noted that while the vast majority of cannabis consumers in Europe consider mixing with tobacco to be the norm, almost no cannabis users in the United States routinely bring tobacco into the equation.
“In a previous study, we found that the large majority of cannabis users in Europe smoke cannabis with tobacco. Tobacco’s ability to reduce the memory-impairing effects of cannabis may be part of why people add it to their joints,” Hindocha added.
“Surprisingly little research has been done on how tobacco might alter the effects of cannabis. As cannabis gets legalized in more countries, it is essential that any changes in cannabis policy consider their interrelationship.”
Of course, it’s not only about increased cardiovascular risk when tobacco is added to cannabis. While it’s been proven time and time again that cannabis isn’t addictive, nicotine is one of the most addictive substances on the face of the earth. And if this wasn’t bad enough, there’s also the way in which tobacco is the leading cause of lung cancer on a global basis.
All of which basically means that when cannabis is mixed with tobacco, all you are doing is elevating your risk of nicotine addiction, heart disease, lung cancer and all manner of other health issues. Plus, you’re not doing a single thing to improve or enhance the high – science having now documented this quite clearly.
Still, it’s not as if the cannabis culture of an entire continent is likely to change overnight – even when presented with all the scientific evidence in the world. But for those with a genuine interest in keeping their cannabis consumption as healthy as possible, leaving tobacco out of the equation altogether is probably the best way to go.