A great question, and one which has been bugging researchers for a long long time – ‘is marijuana more dangerous than tobacco?’
Well, the answer is not so simple. Many tobacco companies will claim that yes, it actually is. But on the other hand, anecdotal evidence and the experience of people using weed for decades suggests otherwise.
Similarly, many proponents of marijuana, including breeders, sellers and even doctors, claim that smoking it is actually less harmful than smoking tobacco. However, making a useful comparison isn’t easy, especially since both marijuana and tobacco are very different substances, with significantly different effects on the mind and body.
However, do bear in mind that the process of smoking can have similar, adverse effects, and it doesn’t matter if you’re smoking a joint, a pipe, or simply a cigarette. So if you’re worried about such diseases and effects, we strongly recommend consuming weed via infused edibles or beverages.
So, which is more dangerous, cannabis or tobacco? To properly answer this question, we need to get down to the nitty gritties of both drugs, and see how they affect the human body. So let’s get right down to it.
As you probably already know, like marijuana, tobacco is also a plant. Unlike marijuana which has been around for a longer time, it was first discovered in the Americas in the 15th century.
Similarly, unlike marijuana, the tobacco plant has never been declared illegal, despite the fact that it contains a psychoactive compound called nicotine. Though many countries all over the world do have age restrictions for consuming tobacco, the drug is one of the most heavily used, addictive ones in the whole world.
While there are many different ways to consume tobacco, the most common one involves smoking cigarettes.
Cigarettes and their effects
There really is no doubt that cigarettes are the most popular and most common form of tobacco consumption.
As mentioned before, the psychoactive compound found in tobacco is nicotine, an addictive, stimulant substance which increases the dopamine levels in the brain. This in turn increases the feelings of reward and pleasure, and in turn stimulates an increase in neural activity and perceived energy levels.
Research has shown that tolerance of and addiction to nicotine develops quickly, and people might just find themselves smoking up to 30 cigarettes in a day, and tolerating more than 300 hits of nicotine. The effect of this results in the brain becoming addicted to dopamine. As a result, people who try to quit smoking often suffer from the following symptoms:
- Depressed mood
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased appetite
- Difficulty focusing
At the same time, some people also find nicotine sedative, and can’t go to sleep until they’ve had a smoke.
However, cigarettes also have a number of adverse effects. As with any type of inhaled smoke, cigarettes do not only deliver nicotine to the brain. They also deliver toxins and carcinogens to your lungs. Which is why a recent study by the American Cancer society reported that people who smoke are about 25 times more likely to develop lung cancer than people who have never smoked.
But lung cancer is not the only health risk associated with nicotine smoking. There also are a number of physical and mental drawbacks as well.
The physical effects include
- Inability to become sexually aroused in men
- Inability to get pregnant for women
- Lower infant weight and poor health for already pregnant women
- Other lung diseases, such as asthma and emphysema
- Decreased immunity and other health problems
Mental effects include
- Anxiety and depression
- Nervousness, agitation and cravings
- Higher probability of developing mental illnesses
- Higher potential to develop other addictions
Similar to tobacco, marijuana is also a plant. However, this one was actually discovered thousands of years ago, and has been frequently used by people to manage pain, induce sleep, and of course, get high.
Unlike tobacco, the marijuana flower actually has numerous active compounds, but the two most famous ones are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and Cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the psychoactive compound.
This substance is uncommonly similar to many natural chemicals made by the human body, called cannabinoids, which help the body manage important processes related to perceptions of time, coordination, pleasure, memory and cognition. As a result, effects of THC tend to be more relaxing, body based and sedative, and have been known to knock people out.
On the other hand, CBD is a non psychoactive compound which contains many antioxidants and pain relieving qualities. And since it does not bind with the body’s natural receptors as well as THC does, many people find that they can tolerate it better, even in large quantities.
Effects of Marijuana
Before we begin, there is one thing we need to understand. That different forms of marijuana have different effects on people. It depends on how experienced you are, how your body will react, and how potent marijuana you are consuming.
That being said, both THC and CBD have their uses and drawbacks. Medicinal CBD can be used to treat conditions such as
On the other hand, THC is used to help with some (or all) of the following
- Muscle spasms
- Loss of appetite
However, there also are some adverse effects of marijuana, both physical and mental. Similar to cigarettes and tobacco, smoking marijuana also exposes the users lungs to a number of harmful toxins, and an additional substance called tar. Additionally, marijuana smokers tend to inhale more deeply, and hold their breath longer than tobacco users, which results in prolonged exposure. As a result, smoking marijuana can also cause lung diseases, including lung cancer.
Other issues related to smoking marijuana include:
- Mild or acute bronchitis
- Increased phlegm production and wheezing
- Potential development of psychosis
- Impaired cognitive function
In the end
We know that both, marijuana and tobacco are harmful substances, but at the same time, both of them have their uses as well. But is marijuana more harmful than tobacco? We’re gonna say no.
Sure smoking weed can cause lung disease, but luckily, the marijuana market has evolved. Today, people have a number of smoke-free ways of consuming it, including edibles, tinctures and topicals, all of which are fun, flavorful, and sometimes hassle free ways of consuming marijuana. So what are you waiting for?