We’ve all got the one friend who chooses to roll a spliff instead of a joint. We’ve also all experienced taking a huge toke off something we thought was straight cannabis but was once we inhale we notice it’s mixed with tobacco. After the inevitable coughing fit, it’s appropriate to wonder why some cannabis consumers would choose to mix their weed with tobacco.

Considering much of the world rolls spliffs instead of pure cannabis joints, let’s try to find out what’s the basis for this? There are many reasons to mix weed with tobacco, based on cultural considerations, on preference, and the end result. Smoking weed feels much different than smoking a mixture, so much so that many people actually prefer the mellower high offered by a tobacco combination.

Breaking Down the Vocabulary

Joint VS Spliff

First things first, for anyone who hasn’t read the article explaining the main differences between a joint, a blunt and a spliff, it’s essential to understand the basic vocabulary.

Joint: A joint is commonly used to describe a 100 percent cannabis cigarette. Nuances on rolling papers and filter aside, joints almost never contain tobacco. Joint is the most common slang used for a rolled weed cigarette in North America (the United States & Canada).

Spliff: A spliff, on the other hand, usually refers to a joint rolled with at least 50 percent tobacco. It always depends on personal preference, but some people barely sprinkle in any weed at all. In Europe, many prefer spliffs because pot is much harder to come by and more expensive.

Often, one term will bleed into another, and in some cases, the definitions reverse altogether. For anyone trying to get the lay of the land in a new country, the crossover between descriptions leads to many unpleasant situations. We’ve all been there. Knowing the local lingo is extremely important to getting what you want.

Why Would you mix Cannabis with Tobacco?

Judging from the reactions we get on social media posts containing tobacco, it seems outrageous to mix tobacco with ganja for many American and Canadian weed smokers. Why would you ever consider diluting a beautiful juicy bud with cancer-causing tobacco? For many North American’s, smoking is a habit on the decline as the health risks associated with cigarette smoke are fully understood. But in Europe, people’s preference is quite different.

In Europe, smoking is much more widespread. While an American smoker smokes on average 1000 cigarettes per year, the statistics out of most European countries are typically over 1500 cigarettes per year. Crazier still, Russians smoke almost 2700 per year on average! All this goes to show, that there is far less stigma around tobacco in other regions than within North America.

On top of the prevalence of tobacco smokers around the world, there is also a limited supply of high-quality weed. Very few countries have legalized access to recreational cannabis, which means that in many countries it’s difficult to source. When you can find cannabis abroad, it’s often expensive and of the ditch weed variety.

Spliffs are a combination of too little weed and increased tobacco preference. It offers a perfect solution when there isn’t enough cannabis to go around, and everyone already smokes cigarettes. Further, we all know that smoking weed is a social thing, when you sit together with friends and pass around a joint, a spliff is probably gonna last longer than a pure cannabis joint.

What Does Feel Like to Mix Weed with Tobacco?

Smoking a spliff is a lighter experience than smoking a straight cannabis joint. Tobacco naturally causes a small head-high or slight buzz. It stimulates mild euphoria, increases heart rate, and might cause a bit of light-headedness.

When mixed with weed, tobacco initially triggers an immediate head rush before the cannabis even hits. Because spliff smokers typically smoke less weed overall, the experience is much mellower than that from a 100 percent cannabis blunt. Often people describe the tobacco/cannabis high as clearer, more productive, and less anxiety. The gentle high might all relate back to the amount of weed in the cigarette. People usually don’t change smoke spliffs.

What are the Health Risks From Smoking Tobacco?

In 2017 most of us should know the inherent risks of smoking tobacco. It’s indisputably linked to more than one deadly health issues. In some circles, cigarette smoke is avoided like the plague.

But what are the ramifications of weed mixed with tobacco? I think we can all agree that just because it’s combined with weed doesn’t make smoking a tobacco filled spliff any better for you…

The most common health issues related to smoking tobacco are as follows:

  • Lung cancer, which is responsible for 87 percent of lung cancer deaths in the United States.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 80 percent of people who contract the disease were cigarette smokers.
  • Premature Babies, smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth and prenatal health complications.
  • Asthma, asthma is hard enough to deal with on its own, but the attacks worsen through exposure to cigarette smoke.
  • Heart Disease, interestingly the statistics show that as cigarette smoking decreases across the United States, so too do heart disease rates.

To Filter or Not to Filter

Joint Filter For A Spliff

You only have to take one look at a used cigarette filter to recognize that it’s useful to remove a portion of toxic tar before it enters your lungs. A used filter is a brown sticky mess.

One of the main issues for spliff smokers is that they rely on homemade filters, or worse yet no filter at all. Homemade filters, when used, are merely small rolled up pieces of cardboard. These filters only serve to keep the weed in the spliff, but do nothing for preventing toxic tar from entering your lungs. Smoking spliffs might be worse for long-term lung health due to lack of proper filter.

What are the Health Risks Of Smoking Weed?

For any skeptics out there, multiple scientific publications have explored the risks of smoking weed in comparison to smoking tobacco. Although the action of smoking either tobacco or cannabis seems remarkably similar, there are notable differences.

Cannabis and tobacco are not equally carcinogenic. In fact, many cannabinoids found in cannabis have shown preliminary promise for killing cancer cells. Beyond its cancer-fighting potential, an often replicated study found no direct link between cannabis smoke and lung cancer. Even for people who reported smoking 22,000 joints in their lifetime. That’s easily two joints a day!

If you need further proof, there also is no association between heavy cannabis use and deterioration of lung function. Even users who smoked roughly one joint a day over the course of 20 years did not present signs of reduced lung capacity or expiratory volume.

It should be said that inhaling any smoke runs the risk of toxic build up in the lungs. While the dangers of smoking weed are still much lower than those of tobacco, it doesn’t mean we can take additional steps to look after our lungs for the long run. 

Thankfully, smoking weed has multiple options to get around the problem of inhaling smoke. Water bongs are a longtime favorite for filtering out some of the unwanted particles naturally found in any incinerated substance. Plus, there is always the option of vaping.