Why tobacco joints (biochemically) make no sense at all

The various cannabis cultures around the world are united in their hearts, but devided in consumer culture. Due to different supply markets, one issue in particular separates cannabis users worldwide: Does tobacco belong in the joint or not? Today I would like to take you on a journey through different smoking cultures habits and want to show why tobacco joints in 2021 are simply no longer up-to-date.

Let’s start with the current geographical differences in cannabis tobacco consumption

The Atlantic Ocean acts as a natural border between the American “pure joint” and the European “tobacco joint”. Traditionally, massive amounts of cannabis have been produced in Mexico and California for half a century – enough to supply all passionate cannabis users in the North American target markets with sufficient cannabis buds. There is talk of abundance, great competition and thus attractive prices for the end consumer. That is why cannabis is mainly consumed pure in the cannabis hype nations USA and Canada. Cigarettes generally have a hard time in North American societies. Loose tobacco is very rare, and if you get one, it’s at exorbitant prices.

The only exception are blunts, cannabis flowers rolled up in tobacco leaves. Blunts are quite common in the US. The tobacco leaves that replace the rolling paper naturally contain nicotine – but in significantly lower amounts than our European friends smoke in their joints.

Dried Tobacco Leaves
Dried Tobacco Leaves (Source)

Tobacco high culture in Europe

And with that we take a look at Europe. On the continent of millennia-old civilization, where the Romans invented dental fillings, Isaac Newton discovered gravity or Michelangelo set David in stone, cannabis is traditionally consumed with tobacco. And ironically tobacco is rarely grown in Europe – it’s not supposed to, because tobacco is one of the oldest imported goods and Europe practically invented colonialism.

Smoking cigarettes is also much more widespread in Europe than in North America, as these observations made by some users of the popular expat social network Quora suggest. Also my experiences after living in Germany, Spain and Switzerland show me that much more cigarettes and tobacco are generally smoked in Europe. In Europe, the tobacco in the joint is simply part of common smoking habits. Thus, many consumers like my former blogger colleague Daniel from Cannabis-Rausch.de show with their stories that they often associate a certain love-hate relationship with tobacco. He has written numerous articles entitled “Fuck You Tobacco Joint“, in which he repeatedly recounted his efforts to quit smoking tobacco. Again and again setbacks, missed goals and finally the surrender to his nicotine addiction.

Tobacco addiction from cannabis concentrates such as hashish

In my early days as a cannabis patient, I was never a tobacco smoker, but during my time in Spain I discovered my “love” for tobacco. In an environment where good hash dominated the supply market, I couldn’t find any other way to medicate cannabis than rolling the hash in joints with flammable tobacco. Before that, I stayed in Germany, where the consumption of tobacco joints was predominant. In Germany, however, mixed with cannabis flowers instead of cannabis hashish.

 

Anyone who has ever been to Berlin and smoked the Berlin Amnesia Haze knows that cannabis can contain very high levels of active ingredients in Europe. Since cannabis possession is subject to high penalties in Europe, especially in Germany, Sweden or France, there are also very good reasons for highly potent weed or hash. Because for a joint with the same effect you need significantly less of the previously illegal cannabis flowers when they have a high potency than when the active ingredient concentration is low.

This means that only smaller quantities have to be transported and the penalties are lower if you are caught with such less amounts. In order not to be completely overwhelmed by the high levels of active ingredients as a consumer, mixing it with tobacco to «dilute» the THC concentration has established itself as the go-to solution.

But are tobacco joints really the solution for a more pleasant high?

Tobacco joints because “I can’t afford to smoke pure weed” = you lie to yourself

Before I emigrated from Germany, I quickly noticed in my cannabis-positive circle of friends that the tobacco in their joint is an insane consumption motor. Tobacco plays mainly the sellers of cannabis products in the cards, because users of tobacco joints consume nicotine. Sooner or later, tobacco joint users develop a nicotine addiction, which the consumer later on associates with the inhalation of cannabinoids. This means that after the joint you just smoked has waned, thanks to the nicotine, the need for the next joint is quickly aroused.

Tobacco joint smokers who do not smoke cigarettes have the highest costs

Because often the craving for the next joint is in truth the longing for the next load of nicotine. Because nicotine, as a very fast-acting neurotoxin, has the potential to trigger an almost immediate effect in the body and head. It ranges from a brief, activating «kick» to a moment of relaxation, depending on the situation. However, this craving for nicotine could also be satisfied with a cigarette, an IQOS or an e-cigarette, which in many cases is a much cheaper option than the next tobacco joint.

I have spoken to many people about this topic lately; Many who have only recently given up tobacco consumption. We all share one observation: At the end of the day, tobacco joint smokers smoke significantly more cannabis than pure smokers. There are several reasons for this.

As this peer-reviewed study shows, for example, regular nicotine consumption inhibits the reward function in our brain when nicotine is withdrawn, i.e. when tobacco is not being smoked.

The decrease in brain reward function experienced during nicotine withdrawal is an essential component of nicotine addiction and a key barrier to abstinence.

As a result, the brain’s reward function is only available to a limited extent when a regular tobacco user smokes a pure cannabis joint. Because nicotine, in contrast to THC or other cannabinoids, unfolds its effects very quickly and also subsides very quickly, a large amount of dopamine is briefly released. The THC, which is available for the release of dopamine in the body much longer, can then no longer release sufficient amounts of dopamine, which would be necessary to exceed the reward threshold in the brain.

And if we go back to the above quote, we will, to make matters worse, note that the threshold of reward for nicotine-dependent people in a withdrawal state is also significantly higher than for people without nicotine addiction – so it takes even more reward-promoting substances such as THC to cross the threshold of perceived happiness.

Conclusion: Tobacco should be banned from all cannabis products, even if it boosts cannabis consumption lucratively

Even if the desire for the next joint in connection with tobacco is much higher than when smoking pure joints, this connection should not be exploited by the industry. In Switzerland, for example, there is such a product with the popular “Heimatzigaretten“, which contains 20% CBD cannabis flowers and 80% tobacco blends. The consumer is made physically dependent by the product and longs for new tobacco mixed joints to satisfy his cravings.

In terms of the consumers and customers health, pure joints are therefore the comparatively healthier option. Because every time you smoke, with or without tobacco, lots of toxic and carcinogenic substances are released, such as benzene. So if there is already the craving for smoking, smoking should at least be minimized in order to protect health. While CBD, for example, even lowers the pressure of addiction and thus even delays reaching for the next joint, nicotine builds up an unnecessarily high addictive potential.

Of course, from the consumer’s point of view, it is very difficult to quit smoking nicotine. However, consuming pure CBD can help in the withdrawal process. In this study, for example, nicotine abandoners who consumed CBD daily smoked 40% fewer cigarettes per day than the control group who did not take any CBD.

The health benefits of stop smoking are huuuge

Those who have successfully given up smoking tobacco can notice physical improvements in themselves within a short period of time. Lung regeneration begins after a month. After 10 years, the chance of dying from fatal lung cancer is already halved. After 20 years, all cells damaged by tobacco consumption have regenerated to such an extent that the risk of death is as low as that of a person who has never smoked in his life. Here’s a great list with all improvements after specific time spans.

 

ps: And for everyone who “cannot afford” to smoke pure cannabis: There are excellent tobacco substitutes or inexpensive CBD flower mixtures for this very purpose; As a substitute for tobacco.

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