Blunts, Spliffs, and Joints: What to Know Before You Roll Up
The terms blunt, spliff, and joint are often used interchangeably, but they’re not quite the same. To make things a bit more complicated, pot lingo varies from place to place.
Here’s a look at what it all means in the United States.
Blunts are cigars that have had the tobacco removed and replaced with marijuana. They can also be rolled using tobacco leaf wrappers.
As for the name? It comes from the Phillies Blunt cigar brand.
According to various internet sources, blunts originated in New York as a method for smoking pot discreetly, among other things.
What to know
Here are some things to consider before you get out that tobacco leaf or hit the corner store for a blunt wrap:
- Blunts containa lotmore pot.Cigars are a lot bigger than the average joint, which means they can hold a lot more pot. Smoking an entire blunt is roughly the equivalent of smoking six joints.
- Cigars and their wrappers are highly toxic. Even if you remove the tobacco, high concentrations of cancer-causing nitrosamines and other toxins created during the fermentation process may remain. And because cigar wrappers are more porous than rolling papers, the burning is less complete, resulting in smoke that has higher concentrations of toxins.
- You’re inhaling harmful toxins. All smoke is harmful to lung health, no matter what you’re inhaling. According to the American Lung Association, marijuana smoke contains a lot of the same toxins and carcinogens as tobacco smoke. Smoking pot usually involves inhaling deeper and holding large amounts of unfiltered smoke for longer. This exposes you to even more irritants and toxins that damage your lungs and airways.
A spliff is a blend of cannabis and tobacco, usually in cigarette rolling papers.
The word spliff is West Indian and is said to be a take on the words “split” — as in split the difference between weed and tobacco — and “whiff,” referring to the smell of the smoke. Or, perhaps, referring to how adding tobacco masks the smell of the pot.
What to know
Adding tobacco means less pot, which is good, right? Not necessarily.
Both marijuana and tobacco smoke can damage your lungs and increase your risk for several serious conditions. Adding tobacco to marijuana just means you’re getting the damaging effects of tobacco, too.
Here’s what you need to know before getting spliffy with it:
- Smoking tobacco and weed together can increase your risk for addiction. There’s evidence that smoking marijuana with tobacco increases cannabis dependence symptoms. The two appear to balance out the negative symptoms caused by both. Smoked together, they also seem to enhance the enjoyable symptoms, such as relaxation. This makes a person less likely to notice the ill effects, and more likely to keep smoking.
- Unfiltered tobacco smoke increases your risk for lung cancer and death. A recent study found that people who smoke unfiltered cigarettes are twice as likely to die from lung cancer and 30 percent more likely to die of any cause than smokers of filtered cigarettes. A spliff may contain less tobacco than a cigarette, but it’s still unfiltered tobacco smoke nonetheless.
Joints are the simplest of the bunch. They’re just ground marijuana rolled in cigarette papers. Sometimes people roll them with a crutch, which is basically just a stiffer bit of paper to hold the weed in place.
What to know
Unlike spliffs and blunts, which contain tobacco, joints contain nothing but cannabis and the paper it’s rolled in. The upside to smoking joints is that you’re not exposing yourself to tobacco or nicotine.
Still, they’re not much better for you:
- Marijuana smoke can be just as harmful as tobacco smoke. Smoking marijuana irritates the lungs. People who smoke it often have the same breathing issues as tobacco smokers, such as chronic cough and frequent lung infections.
- Smoking marijuana may cause air pockets in the lungs. According to the American Lung Association, smoking weed has been linked to the development of large air bubbles in the lungs and air pockets between both lungs and the chest wall in young to middle-aged adults who smoke a lot of pot.
- Secondhand marijuana smoke may be more dangerous than directly inhaled smoke.Secondhand marijuana smoke contains a lot of the same toxins and carcinogens as directly inhaled smoke and may even contain more, according to some research.
You might argue that joints are better for you because there’s no tobacco in a joint, but the benefit is minimal.
There’s no safe way of smoking anything. Joints, spliffs, blunts, pipes, bongs — they all carry risks.
A blunt can be several things, depending on who you ask. We'll take a look at what it usually refers to and how it compares to a joint or spliff.
Is smoking weed bad for you?
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- Inherent risks
- Potential side-effects
- Is there anyone who should avoid smoking weed?
- Bottom line
Thanks to a decades-long smear campaign (“Reefer Madness,” anyone?), a large portion of the US population operated under the assumption that weed was always bad.
That all began to change once legalization, both medical and recreational, started spreading across the country. Today, cannabis has become much more normalized and many people not only disagree with the idea that cannabis is bad for you, they actually incorporate weed into their wellness routines.
But what about smoking weed? Are there any risks? Does smoking carry more side effects than other consumption methods?
While we wish the answer was as clear cut as “yes, smoking weed is bad for you” or “no, smoking weed isn’t bad for you,” the truth is a bit more complicated.
First, let’s look at smoking as a consumption method. Whenever you combust plant material, toxins called polyaromatic hydrocarbons form. Polyaromatic hydrocarbons exist in both tobacco and cannabis smoke and exposing yourself to those toxins is one of the risks of smoking weed.
Research shows that smoking cannabis doesn’t have the same risks as smoking cigarettes. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
But research shows that smoking cannabis just doesn’t have the same risks as smoking cigarettes. While smoking weed to excess may lead to respiratory issues (like bronchitis or, in severe cases, COPD), there has been no causal link found between smoking weed and cancer , one of the biggest risks associated with smoking cigarettes. In fact, research shows that some of the compounds in cannabis show potential for slowing the growth of cancerous tumors .
Smoking anything, including cannabis, has potential risks. But research shows that cannabis smoke has far fewer risks than cigarette smoke, and, to date, there’s been no link found between cannabis and cancer.
People use cannabis in different ways, for different reasons, and have different experiences. Many people smoke weed and encounter no negative side effects whatsoever. Some find tremendous relief from conditions like PTSD or chronic pain. These people would probably say smoking weed is not bad for them.
But others smoke weed and have a different experience. Weed can make some people feel anxious, tired, or unmotivated. In extreme cases, they may develop cannabis use disorder. For those people, smoking weed probably isn’t the best choice.
Every consumption method, including smoking, has potential side effects. Some of those associated with smoking cannabis include:
The risks associated with smoking weed increase based on the frequency and duration of use. For people who smoke weed on a moderate basis, the benefits (particularly for patients using cannabis for medical reasons) typically outweigh the risks.
If you’re concerned about experiencing respiratory side effects, try other consumption methods, like edibles, tinctures, or vaporizers. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
If you’re concerned about experiencing respiratory side effects, other consumption methods (like edibles, tinctures, or vaporizers) may help mitigate those risks.
Is there anyone who should avoid smoking weed?
There are certain groups of people who should avoid cannabis, including:
- People under the age of 21. There is a mountain of evidence that using cannabis while the brain is still developing can lead to serious adverse outcomes, so children, adolescents, and young adults under the age of 21 should abstain from smoking weed or consuming cannabis.
- People with psychotic disorders and/or a family history of psychotic disorders . Cannabis may exacerbate symptoms of a psychotic disorder. If you struggle with a mental illness like schizophrenia or psychosis (or you’re at high risk due to a family history of such disorders), it’s recommended that you avoid cannabis altogether.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women. While there is some debate around the safety and potential risks of smoking weed while pregnant or breastfeeding, the research still hasn’t reached any definitive answers. For the sake of the child’s health, most medical professionals recommend erring on the side of caution and abstaining from cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- People with cannabis use disorder. If you find yourself struggling with dependence on cannabis or your cannabis use is interfering with or negatively impacting your life, abstinence is often necessary.
- People on certain medications. Cannabis may interact with certain pharmaceutical drugs. If you’ve been prescribed blood thinners, blood pressure medication, or any other medications to help manage or treat a cardiac condition, it’s important to speak to your doctor about smoking weed and confirm whether there are any potential risks or interactions between cannabis and your prescribed medication. If you’re on any psychiatric drugs, it’s also important to talk to your doctor about whether smoking weed while taking your prescribed drugs can cause any negative side effects.
While the majority of people in the above-mentioned groups should avoid smoking cannabis, there are exceptions, particularly when cannabis is prescribed for medical reasons. Again, the only way to determine whether smoking weed is good or bad in any particular situation is to evaluate the risks and benefits, apply them to yourself and your situation, and come to a personal conclusion for yourself and your health.
From the perspective of consumption, smoking cannabis carries some risk, but not nearly as many risks as smoking cigarettes. Cannabis has the potential to be both helpful and harmful, healthy and unhealthy, “good” and “bad.” It all depends on a variety of factors, including your health, your history, and the way you use cannabis. Weigh the risks and benefits and make the decision that’s right for you.
Is smoking weed bad for you? Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents Inherent risks Potential side-effects Is there anyone who should avoid