Cannabis vs Tobacco: Which One is Safer?

Cannabis and tobacco are different substances that offer different effects on the body and mind and these two are popular among the smoking community. Many have claimed that smoking cannabis is less harmful than smoking cigarettes (tobacco). Is it true, and what’s going to happen if you mix them together? 

Let’s explore.

Key Takeaways

  • Cannabis refers to the leaves, flowers, and buds of cannabis plants that contain chemical compounds that make you feel high.
  • Tobacco is cigarettes made from tobacco plants that produce nicotine as a primary chemical.
  • Cannabis is less carcinogenic and less addictive than tobacco.
  • Both cannabis and tobacco deliver negative effects to the body, physically and mentally.
  • Mixing cannabis with tobacco is not safe as it can cause nausea, dizziness, anxiety, and more.

Understanding the Cannabis and Tobacco

Cannabis refers to cannabis plants which contain psychoactive mind-altering chemicals called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) along with other similar compounds. Cannabis parts like leaves, flowers, and buds are most likely to be consumed in various ways, smoking is the most popular method.

Tobacco is the main component of cigarettes made from dried leaves of tobacco plants. Tobacco also produces nicotine, the main chemical in tobacco which is toxic and highly addictive, which can also be found in many e-cigarettes known as vapes. Other than nicotine, tobacco contains thousands of chemicals some of which are known to cause cancer or ‘carcinogenic’.

Weed vs Tobacco: Similarities & Differences

Both cannabis and tobacco are considered psychoactive. Tobacco only has stimulant properties while THC in cannabis may have stimulant or sedating effects depending on other compounds it pairs with. Cannabis smoke is known to be less carcinogenic, or cancer-causing than tobacco. However, nicotine is believed to be more addictive than cannabis, although both may lead to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when quitting.

Another thing that makes these two drugs different is that you can eat cannabis as consuming cannabis edible is one of the most popular ways to enjoy weed. On the other hand, swallowing tobacco is harmful.

What do weed and tobacco make you feel?

The Effects of Weed

THC is the main chemical compound in cannabis that delivers intoxicating effects, making you feel high by attaching itself to receptors in the brain after it enters the bloodstream from consumption. Cannabis effects may also make you feel relaxed, euphoric, hungry, creative, giggly, and sensitive to smell, taste, and sound.

The Effects of Tobacco

As stated above, nicotine in tobacco is highly addictive. It also affects the brain to release adrenaline and dopamine to make you feel good which will make you happy, help you to concentrate, and make you energetic. However, after the nicotine levels in your body fade over time, it will make you crave more dopamine. Once you are dependent on nicotine, you’ll develop withdrawal symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, feeling nervous, restless, and irritable. The withdrawal symptoms will make you crave more nicotine and without knowing it, you’ve become addicted to tobacco.

Cannabis vs Tobacco: Which one is more dangerous?

Cannabis’s Physical & Mental Health Risks

Using cannabis frequently for a long time can leave lasting effects on your health. Consuming cannabis alone already offers great physical risks including lung cancer. Other health risks that cannabis may cause may include:

  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Immune system suppression
  • Increased risk of opportunistic infections of HIV-positive individuals

Not just physical problems, consuming cannabis also leads to mental health issues such as:

  • Impaired memory and cognitive function
  • Delayed brain development in younger people
  • Potential development of psychosis
  • Depression and anxiety

Tobacco’s Physical & Mental Health Risks 

Constantly smoking or inhaling tobacco with tons of different chemicals is not a good idea. Nicotine itself is able to narrow veins and arteries resulting in the increased workload of the heart to pump blood. Tobacco also offers similar effects to cannabis which has the potential to develop lung cancer, however, it’s more than that. Physical effects of the tobacco may include:

  • Asthma and emphysema
  • Reduction of sexual arousal in men
  • Decrease the chance of getting pregnant in women
  • Lower infant birth weight and decreases the health of infants
  • High blood pressure
  • Decrease immunity
  • Stroke, heart attacks, and other heart disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Mental health effects that tobacco produces may also include:

  • Higher chances of developing mental illness.
  • Higher chances of developing other addictions.
  • Anxiety and depression.
  • Increase nervousness, agitation, and cravings.

To sum it up, cannabis is considered safer than tobacco since it’s less addictive. However, that does not mean that cannabis is entirely safe to use. What’s safe is to avoid smoking, inhaling, or consuming both cannabis and tobacco.

Mixing Up Cannabis with Tobacco 

Some people may co-use cannabis and tobacco by mixing them together, especially in a cigarette roll. The top reason they do this is to lower the cost of cannabis, to improve the combustion of cannabis in cigarettes, and to preserve cultural tradition.

Users who mix cannabis with tobacco may experience:

  • Stronger and more intense highs that last longer
  • Increase heart rate, blood pressure, and cardiovascular stress
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Anxiety

According to a 2009 research, researchers have shown that mixing tobacco with weed can increase THC levels in the smoke which leads to more intense high feelings. And NO, it’s not safe to mix tobacco with cannabis as it can increase your exposure to toxic substances.

The Bottom Line

Whether it’s weed or tobacco, smoking is still dangerous. Even though weed is less addictive, both drugs still deliver harmful effects such as lung cancer, if consumed in the long run. They both also negatively affect several of the physical and mental health of the users. One thing that differentiates tobacco from cannabis is that tobacco cannot be consumed through eating or swallowing while eating cannabis is one of the most popular ways to use weed. Although many people tend to mix weed and tobacco together, not only it’s far from being safe but it’s also causing more damage to your own health.

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