Blunt smokers link dependence potential to nicotine

According to a study by researchers at National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. (NDRI) users of blunts (tobacco cigar shells filled with marijuana) do not understand or experience marijuana dependence in terms of conventional clinical criteria. Rather, they associate clinical symptoms with "harder" drugs such as heroin, crack, cocaine and nicotine. However, many suggested that blunts may have addictive potential because they contain tobacco (nicotine). This finding suggests that future studies on cannabis dependence should be designed to include blunts.

The results of this study have been published in a recent issue of the International Journal of Drug Policy. (Eloise Dunlap, Ellen Benoit, Stephen J. Sifaneck and Bruce D. Johnson. Social constructions of dependency by blunts smokers: Qualitative reports. The International Journal of Drug Policy 17(3) 2006:171-182.)

The NDRI study involved in-depth interviews with 92 users of blunts and cannabis in other forms (joints, pipes, bongs, etc.) in New York City. Respondents ranged in age from 14 to 62, and were racially diverse: 43% white, 40% Black and 15% Asian. Nineteen percent identified themselves as Latino/a, and 43% were female.

When asked if they think blunts are addictive, respondents were evenly divided between affirmative and negative responses. In explaining their answers, many cited the role of tobacco, without prompting. Of those who said they think blunts are addictive, 17% said it is most likely because tobacco, which contains the physically addictive ingredient nicotine, is present in the blunts cigar shell. Among those who said they do not think blunts are addictive, 15% qualified their answers by saying that the tobacco in blunts is addictive, but the marijuana in them is not.

For the most part, respondents did not assess the possibility of blunts dependence in terms that clearly correspond to official clinical criteria. Several users described sm

Contact: Patrice Barron
National Development & Research Institutes

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