What if puff, puff, pass is a deadly philosophy? For years, tobacco was pushed as a quick fix rather than a health risk. A peek into the past presents pro-tobacco literature and advertisements: if you had a migraine, ate too much food, or wanted to improve your overall health, a pack of cigarettes was the cure. Each pack not only was encouraged, but also had a doctor’s stamp of approval. Smoking was the solution, until it became a serious problem.
When the narrative changed, the health risks associated with tobacco use began to unfold rapidly. Suddenly, common ailments like heart attacks, strokes, and tooth decay were connected to that daily dose of smoke. Correlation to cancer (lung, pancreas, kidney, and others) followed. Chronic lung disease, plus damage to organs and blood vessels, came next. A culture of smokers began to face the music: tar was filling their lungs, and their bodies were rejecting their therapeutic inhalation.
Nearly every household now has a common story: my grandma died from emphysema, second-hand smoke. My uncle has cancer, he couldn’t quit. Generations of too-late stories are now the precursory warning.
We’ve seen the effects of smoking and the toll tobacco takes on the body, and how lungs handle repeated inhalation. In fact, the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) credits 480,000 deaths each year to cigarette smoking; by 2030, worldwide tobacco use is expected to claim up to 8 million lives annually. Within the cannabis culture, it’s worth looking into the effects of another beloved pastime: smoking a blunt.
A blunt is a hollowed-out cigar filled with marijuana, essentially combining cannabis and tobacco in a single roll.
Its history is as rich as it is dank: the earliest blunt usage is tied to the 1500s, though the bulky weed cigar was popularized by artists in the 1960s. Blunts became synonymous with pot use; art, music, and an entire counterculture became wrapped up in this thicker version of a joint.
In Europe, it’s common practice to hand-roll a blunt, selecting equal halves marijuana and tobacco as ingredients. This method soothes a nicotine addiction while delivering a weed high.
Pure cannabis use, ranging from edible consumption to vaporization, though lacking in the same kind of long-term research, has yet to be associated with such devastating diseases when used in moderation. Studies have also shown that prolonged marijuana consumption is also not tied to cognitive decline or negative birth outcomes. Increased lung capacity is even a theoretical benefit to cannabis consumption, as reported by the Daily Beast in 2012.
However, many users feel throat discomfort when smoking their joint, blunt, or bowl. Hot plant matter can do a number on an esophagus, when heat and inhalation are factors. These symptoms are similar to those associated with bronchitis: a blunt can cause a hearty cough, mucus buildup, and chest congestion, though side effects tend to disappear when the smoking concludes.
While tobacco and lung cancer have an enticing relationship, cannabis doesn’t seem to have anywhere near the same effect. Dr. Donald Tashkin, in an article in Time, believes that weed actually has anti-cancer properties. “The THC in marijuana has well-defined anti-tumoral effects that have been shown to inhibit the growth of a variety of cancers in animal models and tissue culture systems,” Dr. Tashin said, “…thus counteracting the potentially tumorigenic effects of the procarcinogens in marijuana smoke.”
Dr. Tashin’s hypothesis is that THC and other cannabinoids provide bodies with protection from cell damage. At this point in history, however, there isn’t any evidence whether or not the anti-cancer properties of weed reduce the risks of tobacco consumption, especially when used in conjunction.
A blunt, as you recall, isn’t just cannabis. It’s a leafy green present wrapped in tobacco, which is a well-known ingredient in the recipe for detriment. As cool, calm, and chill as marijuana is, it’s unknown whether or not the plant can possibly counteract every negative outcome from tobacco use. The safe approach is throwing out the cigar part altogether, though scrapping the weed isn’t necessary.
Alternatives to blunts include joints, bowls, and vaporization. Though a vape pen may wreck your street cred among the millennial crowd, it’s considered one of the safest methods of cannabis consumption. Edibles, too, when properly dosed, are a delicious and trusty method of THC intake that has nothing to do with mixing in tobacco toxins.
Blunts, according to many a worried poster on online forums (like this Grasscity Q&A session) don’t even taste that great. As the user devours the cigar, the taste turns negative: resin residue, mixed with saliva, makes for a sour experience. Flavored blunts often make matters worse.
Here’s some advice: stay off the smoke train until anyone knows for sure. There are plenty of non-blunt ways to consume cannabis. Enjoy the many benefits of the green goddess as safely as possible so that you can keep toking for years to come.
Article by: Savannah Nelson