Cannabis and Tobacco: Scientists Reveal Long-Term Effects

by Calum Armstrong

Frontiers in Psychiatry have published the findings of a study into tobacco and cannabis consumption habits – EurekAlert! reports.

A press release details the results of research conducted by a doctoral student at UCL:

Many users mix cannabis with tobacco, not only to save money but also because tobacco can increase the efficiency of cannabis inhalation. But such mixing can increase the risk of dependence […]

‘Cannabis dependence and tobacco dependence manifest in similar ways, so it is often difficult to separate these out in people who use both drugs,’ says lead author Chandni Hindocha, a doctoral student at the Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit of University College London. ‘Cannabis is less addictive than tobacco, but we show here that mixing tobacco with cannabis lowers the motivation to quit using these drugs.’

Researchers have recommended vaporising as an effective harm reduction measure. (Source: Pixabay)

Researchers have recommended vaporising as an effective harm reduction measure. (Source: Pixabay)

The key findings of the study, titled ‘No Smoke without Tobacco: A Global Overview of Cannabis and Tobacco Routes of Administration and Their Association with Intention to Quit’ are as follows:

  • ‘Simultaneous users [of cannabis and tobacco] 5.1 times more likely to experience cannabis dependence.’
  • ‘Cigarette smoking alongside cannabis use increases symptoms of cannabis dependence and relapse.’
  • ‘In comparison to those with cannabis dependence alone, those who are also nicotine dependent have more severe psychosocial and psychiatric outcomes.’

The study data taken from over 30,000 participants surveyed as part of the 2014 Global Drug Survey. Speaking to VolteFace, study author Chandni Hindocha provided some context to the findings:

Around the world, people use cannabis in a variety of different ways also called routes of administration. Using cannabis in a significant proportion of the world is illegal, so information about how people use it is minimal. Oftentimes people are smoking cannabis with tobacco, and its still unknown how adding tobacco to cannabis will modify its effects.

Here we find that tobacco based methods of smoking cannabis are used by 65% of those worldwide using data from the Global Drugs Survey 2014. In the UK for example, 75% of those surveyed preferred joints with tobacco. We also found that preference for a tobacco based route of administration was associated with reduced motivation to quit tobacco, and to some extent cannabis.

Hindocha’s report recommends the use of vaporisers and, when possible, consuming tobacco and cannabis separately as steps towards reducing harm.

Words by Calum Armstrong tweets @vf_calum

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