Tuesday August 6, 2019

By Erin Hiatt


Cannabis consumers are no longer relegated to smoking a plain old joint. As cannabis has become more mainstream and legal, consumption methods have evolved, too, and there are more options than ever. Nowadays, you can take a tincture, eat an edible, use a bubbler or bong, wear a transdermal patch, dab, or vape.  And even though many consumers have moved away from lighting up and to more health-conscious ingestion methods, smokable cannabis methods – like blunts – remain a popular way to consume. But are there health risks associated with consuming cannabis blunts? 

Why Do People Enjoy Blunts?

Many prefer blunts to joints because of their slower burn, while other cannabis consumers enjoy a blunt because it delivers a different kind of high due to the nicotine/cannabis combination. Some consumers describe a pleasant, lightheaded feeling, while others say it mellows the high. And a 2009 study found that when cannabis and nicotine are used together, the THC becomes available to the body more quickly, bringing the high on more quickly.

Blunts, or ground cannabis rolled in tobacco paper (like cigar paper), are easily distinguished from joints because of their longer length and signature brown paper. And they’ve had a huge impact on pop and urban culture. Elite Daily writer David Foster said, “Bigg and Nas rapped about blunts. Smif-N-Wessun showed the showed the classic image of smoking in a cyphe in the Bucktown video. Redman came out with a song entitled How To Roll a Blunt.” Rihanna rolled a blunt on a man’s head, and even Jay and Silent Bob (well, Jay) rapped about smoking blunts.

Can Blunts Negatively Impact Your Health?

Nonetheless, despite their cultural impact and resonance, smoking a blunt has all the negative aspects of smoking both marijuana and tobacco. There’s no argument that smoking tobacco negatively impacts your health. The typical cigarette has more than 70 carcinogenic chemicals – meaning they have been definitely linked to cancer, heart, and lung disease – including formaldehyde, lead, ammonia, carbon monoxide, and radioactive elements like uranium.

Palm Leaf Blunts
Consider smoking a palm leaf blunt to avoid negatively impacting your health. photo credit

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking takes the lives of 480,000 Americans every year, while secondhand smoke claims an additional 41,000. Regardless of whether you are smoking a blunt or a cigarette, the act of lighting up exposes you to dangerous chemicals which are then inhaled.

Though cannabis consumers tend to smoke less than tobacco smokers, they often hold onto their hits for longer, leaving the lungs exposed for a longer period of time to tar, which can eventually kill lung cilia responsible for removing microbes and debris from airways.

We do know that the research on the long-term health effects of marijuana smoking are mixed, and there have been no meaningful studies on the effects of combining cannabis and tobacco at all. Because of continued federal prohibition on the herb, meaningful, comparative studies on marijuana smoke and long-term health effects have yet to be undertaken in a rigorous way, so health-effects, for better or worse, are not well understood.

Perhaps you’re saying to yourself, a blunt isn’t a cigarette, so can it really be that bad? It’s true, cannabis has been shown to have many healing properties, but if a blunt is your go-to way to consume, not all the power of the herb will be able to correct the damage that can be done by regularly lighting up. Maybe consider a palm leaf blunt next time you want to roll up. Whatever you do, blunt thoughtfully.

Do you think blunts could have a negative impact on a person’s health? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Martin Alonso (license)

Erin Hiatt Erin Hiatt

Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work - which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor - covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.

Erin's work and industry insights have been featured on the podcasts The Let's Go Eat Show, In the Know 420, and she has appeared as a featured panelist on the topic of hemp media. Erin has interviewed top industry experts such as Dr. Carl Hart, Ethan Nadelmann, Amanda Feilding, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Dr. James Fadiman, and culture icons Governor Jesse Ventura, and author Tom Robbins. You can follow her work on LinkedInWordpress, @erinhiatt on Twitter, and @erinisred on Instagram.

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