Are There Health Risks When Smoking Blunts? 

by Haley Mills · March 17, 2023

When you smoke a blunt, you’re inhaling weed and tobacco. Here’s what you need to know about the health risks associated with smoking blunts.

blunt smoke

What are blunts, and what are the risks associated with smoking cannabis blunts? If you’re looking for more information on the healthiest ways to use weed, continue reading this comprehensive guide. 

We’ll cover everything about this popular cannabis consumption method, including how they’re made, how they differ from joints, the adverse risks of blunt smoke, and alternative ways to consume marijuana safely and effectively. 

The History of Cannabis Blunts

Smoking blunts became mainstream in New York City around the mid-1980s following an immigrant wave from Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. Since then, blunts have made a name for themselves within American rap culture, thanks to Snoop Dogg and other famous rappers. 

Blunts are a favorite in social smoking settings, and they’ve been popularized through various pop culture avenues throughout the years. However, the dangers of smoking tobacco and the chemicals added to some blunts have gained traction in recent years. We are now finding that there are much healthier ways to enjoy cannabis. 

What does “smoking a blunt” entail? 

Some cannabis users prefer to smoke joints, while others opt for orally ingested products such as tinctures or edibles. Others enjoy concentrates like dabs and vape pens. Every consumption method has benefits and adverse risks, and it’s essential to find the right one for you. 

Blunts are tobacco cigars or cigar wrappers modified to contain cannabis, and there are a various ways to make them. First, a cannabis user would purchase a cigar wrapper, cigar, or the thinner cigarillo. The smokable tobacco on the inside is then removed by splitting the cigar open, using fingers, a knife, or blunt splitter to cut an even, vertical line along the center of the cigar. 

Finally, the ground buds are added to the tobacco paper, rolled, and resealed to create a blunt. From there, you can light it up and smoke it just like you would when cigar smoking or with smoked cigarettes.

Potential Risks of Smoking Blunts

  • Adolescent tobacco use can cause a lowered IQ, while cannabis consumption has not been linked to long-term cognitive decline.
  • Smoking tobacco is also the primary cause of lung cancer. Cannabis has not been associated with lung cancer when used moderately.
  • A study on prenatal cannabis use found that cannabis was not associated with adverse birth outcomes, but mixing cannabis and could cause low birth weight and pre-term delivery.
  • Per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cigarette smoking is associated with nearly 500,000 deaths yearly. 
  • The effects of tobacco have been studied significantly further in marijuana use. However, in the entire history of human cannabis consumption, there has been zero recorded death from cannabis intake.
  • According to the American Lung Association, smoking tobacco is associated with adverse health effects, including increased risk of heart disease, lung disease, stroke, several cancers, and damage to blood vessels. 
  • Studies have indicated that the amounts of nicotine in blunts can lead to substance addiction. 

Medicinal Benefits of Cannabis

Recent studies suggest that cannabinoids have varying health benefits. They have been used throughout history to manage various health concerns and ailments.

While research continues, more evidence suggests that cannabis can improve the quality of life for many patients.  

  • Research is being done worldwide to see how cannabis may aid in fighting cancer, slowing down tumor growth, and if cannabinol delays symptom onset for certain chronic pain conditions involving peripheral analgesics.
  • Different cannabinoids are also being looked at as options that may benefit those who suffer from autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS.
  • Cannabis can relieve chronic pain, and acute cannabis can fully treat chronic pain in some patients. It is also an antioxidant and can help reduce long-term inflammation. 
  • Safe access to certain marijuana strains with a combination of THC and CBD concentrations could allow for the health benefits of marijuana use without the risks. THC and CBD cannabinoids can improve the duration of anxiety disorders or panic attacks for PTSD patients.
  • A recent study suggests individuals with drug addiction may benefit from EPIDIOLEX, the FDA-approved CBD addiction medicine. Individuals seeking to use cannabis, in general, for opioid addiction should proceed cautiously, as with any pharmaceutical drug. 
  • The FDA approved a prescription-strength dose of CBD for severe epilepsy, Epidiolex oral solution, from GW Pharmaceuticals. Preclinical evidence proves that certain cannabinoids have been shown to reduce seizures by activating the CB1 receptors.
  • Cannabis is known to have relaxing effects on the muscles, which can help relieve pain and tension in the body. Many studies suggest that cannabis also has significant anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Medical marijuana is an excellent alternative to treat brain cancer patients and manage pain due to nerve damage, chemotherapy, and other cancer treatments. Its medical use can also promote appetite in cancer patients who have experienced appetite and weight loss.
  • THC and CBD cannabinoids can improve sleep quality. Recent clinical trials tell us that medical cannabis may help reduce social anxiety in the short term and help you sleep better. 

Will cannabis offset the tobacco effects? 

There isn’t enough medical research to back up the claim that the anti-cancer potential of cannabis may reduce the risks of tobacco consumption. We know that the safest ways to consume cannabis are through vaporization, tinctures, and edibles. 

Otherwise, breathing in burnt plant material and smoke will somewhat damage the human lungs but it is not near as bad as inhaled cigarette smoke. It’s essential to be cautious with tobacco, as the high cancer risk for the plant is well-known and scientifically proven, especially when you inhale cigar smoke.

Blunt Rolling Method

Here are the six steps to rolling a successful marijuana blunt: 

Step 1: Grind 

Break down your cannabis using a grinder for consistency and to help maintain an even burn. 

Step 2: Prep

Traditionally, cannabis users will empty a cigar (backwoods and swisher sweets), but these days you can find empty blunt wraps at a convenience store. Cut the blunt lengthwise, empty the tobacco from the middle, and discard.

Step 3: Add Moisture

A little moisture will make the blunt wrap easier to work with and help seal any small tears. This can be done with saliva or dipping the tip of your finger into some water.

Step 4: Fill 

Fill the empty blunt with about one to two grams of ground cannabis. 

Step 5: Roll 

Roll the cannabis between your fingers to pack the blunt evenly. 

Once you’ve shaped the blunt, tuck the wrap under itself and wet the exposed edge lengthwise. 

Step 6: Seal the Blunt

Now that your blunt is rolled, you’ll want to dry it to seal it together and encourage an even burn. Bake your blunt by running a lighter lengthwise under the seam and around the outside for a few seconds. 

Are joints better for you? 

Joint rolling paper is a quick, effective method for smoking cannabis. They are an excellent alternative for people looking to smoke without the risk of ingesting dangerous chemicals. Many papers will also come with a separate filter option for cleaner smoke every time. A joint more closely resembles a cigarette than a cigar but without the risk of nicotine exposure. A proper joint should contain zero nicotine, as they are not made from tobacco. 

Types of Joint Rolling Paper

Your rolling paper materials play a crucial role in how your joint will taste, how fast or slow it will burn, and how difficult it is to roll.

It’s essential to avoid toxic bleached papers containing calcium carbonate or chlorine. Thick, white paper products are a sure sign that you should change paper brands. The most predominant classic rolling papers are hemp, wood pulp, and rice.

The Benefits of Using Joint Papers include: 

  • Typically, rolling papers and their accessories are inexpensive.
  • They offer you control over your personal smoking experience.
  • They are quick to roll and discreet to carry around 
  • You can choose all-natural vs. flavored rolling papers from various sizes. 

Hemp Paper

Hemp papers are thick and textured, which helps them offer a good grip when rolling. They are environmentally sustainable and naturally derived. For the healthiest option, try and find hemp papers without harmful additives. They provide a medium burn and don’t go out as often as the thinner rice papers. 

Wood Pulp Paper

Cannabis users have used wood pulp rolling papers for centuries. They are typically thicker and broader than many other types of papers and come in bleached or unbleached. These papers are suitable for novice rollers because they hold their shape and are easier to use. They also aren’t easily affected by moisture and offer a moderately slow burn.

Rice Paper

Rice rolling papers are thinner than wood pulp and hemp, which is excellent for your lungs but require extra effort when rolling. Due to their delicate and smooth texture, rice rolling papers don’t offer a firm grip when rolling and are vulnerable to humidity. They burn slowly and are probably the healthiest option, but beginner rollers beware, they aren’t easy to maneuver. 

Palm Leaves

Palm leaves are a healthy alternative to blunt wraps. They are organically made from Cordia palm leaves, tobacco-free, and without artificial flavors or additives. Many palm leaf products come as pre-rolled cones that users can fill, making them perfect for inexperienced users. 

What is a pre-roll?

Pre-rolled cones are standard among experienced users because they are natural and safe and come in many styles, flavors, and sizes, depending on preference. They are pre-rolled paper or leaves shaped into a convenient cone, an excellent alternative for people looking to smoke cannabis without the risk of ingesting dangerous chemicals.

Many pre-rolls are available, but they aren’t all created equal. Before heading over to your local dispensary or convenience store, it’s essential to research and compare before committing to a brand. When choosing a blunt cone, quality, durability, burn time, and flavor are critical aspects to consider.

Chemicals to Avoid

  • A 2008 study found that cannabis users absorb five times more carbon monoxide and three times more tar than tobacco smokers. Carbon monoxide decreases oxygen levels in the red blood cells and harms lung health. 
  • Smoking or inhaling cannabis smoke can create additional free radicals that carry adverse risks, such as chronic bronchitis. According to the American Lung Association, it can increase the short-term risk of adverse cardiovascular events.
  • Nitrosamines in tobacco smoke from smoking cigarettes are dangerous carcinogens that may produce cancer in various areas in the body.
  • Pesticides and heavy metals have been found in blunt wraps and rolling papers per a 2020 study by Science of Cannabis Laboratories Inc.

Consumption Alternatives

Many cannabis products on the market include candies, baked goods, savory snacks, cooking oils, topicals, tablets, personal care items, and more. 

  • A relatively new form of marijuana use is vaping. Vaporizers heat marijuana buds or oil extracts to a specific temperature, causing the active compounds to evaporate into a vapor. The user inhales this marijuana-laced vapor rather than breathing in marijuana smoke. Vaping marijuana produces more substantial effects and uses marijuana bud or oil extract more efficiently.
  • Dabbing is another way of inhaling highly concentrated cannabis products to achieve an immediate, intense effect. Dabbing is done by heating a concentrate to high heat and inhaling the vapor. This method requires a much smaller dosage as concentrates tend to be very potent. 
  • Edibles are another popular way to consume marijuana. Edibles are food items that have been infused with marijuana oil or hashish. The marijuana-infused food item can be eaten as is, or you can bake it into a dessert. Marijuana edibles take longer to produce effects than smoking or vaping marijuana, but the results often last longer, and marijuana edibles produce a more potent marijuana high.
  • Users can also consume marijuana in the form of a tincture. A marijuana tincture is an alcoholic extract of marijuana that is taken orally. Tinctures are usually made with marijuana buds, leaves, or stems. The marijuana-infused liquid is then placed in a dropper bottle for easy dosing. Tinctures are one of the oldest forms of marijuana consumption and are becoming increasingly popular among marijuana users.
  • People also consume marijuana through bongs and water pipes. The marijuana smoke is drawn through a water chamber before the smoker inhales it. The water filters out some harmful toxins in marijuana smoke and cools the smoke before inhaling it. Bongs are a popular way to consume marijuana because they produce a solid high.

The Takeaway

Smoking cannabis blunts can be okay occasionally, but it’s vital to protect yourself from passing germs and inhaling harmful chemicals and additives. We recommend choosing trusted brands, organic material, high-quality bud, and mixing up consumption methods regularly to give your lungs a break.  As always, stay safe and talk with a medical provider before adding cannabis to your routine. 

Last Updated: January 30, 2024

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