Whether you smoke spliffs because you’re trying to cut back on tobacco, you want to save your weed, or you merely like the flavor, few people think about the combined effect of mixing the two plants together.
A recent study from University College London, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, is the first to look at the interaction between cannabis and tobacco when they’re smoked together. Contrary to what some may believe, adding tobacco to joint filled with weed doesn’t affect the high, but it does help with some of the the memory loss consumers may experience with cannabis.
“There’s a persistent myth that adding tobacco to cannabis will make you more stoned, but we found that actually, it does nothing to improve the subjective experience,” said Chandni Hindocha, lead author of the study.
During the study, 24 participants who had healthy, non-dependent relationships with both cannabis and tobacco underwent four sessions, which included a mix of cannabis and tobacco, cannabis and a placebo, tobacco and a placebo, and a total placebo mixture.
Before and after the participants consumed the mixtures, they listened to a passage of prose, which they then had to recall in order to test their memories. The researchers also tested their blood pressure and heart rates. Lastly, the participants were asked to describe their moods and experience.
The researchers found that while cannabis alone impaired the participants’ memory, the combination of cannabis and tobacco reduced the memory impairment. This finding fit well with previous findings that nicotine can actually improve concentration.
However, the combination isn’t without some risk, as well. Together, cannabis and tobacco increased the participants’ blood pressure, more than otherwise.
The study’s findings may mean something different to different people, depending on how much you smoke, what you look for in smoking, and how big an issue memory impairment is for you. Spliffs are much more common in places like Europe and Israel than in the United States, where cannabis consumers typically prefer their joints to be pure.
In a previous study, the researchers found that most cannabis consumers in Europe actually smoke with tobacco. “Surprisingly little research has been done on how tobacco might alter the effects of cannabis,” says Hindocha. “Surprisingly little research has been done on how tobacco might alter the effects of cannabis. As cannabis gets legalized in more countries, it is essential that any changes in cannabis policy consider their interrelationship.”