Do you smoke your joints with or without tobacco? That is the question! The answer very much depends on where in the world you live. This is something that travellers on the canna-trail have long been aware of, but this is one of the themes highlighted in the latest Global Drug Survey (GDS).
What is the Global Drug Survey?
The GDS is an independent drug use data exchange, that uses online surveys to research drug use trends around the world with the aim to make drug use safer (regardless of the legal status in each country). GDS encompasses expert advice from those involved in various fields including medicine, public health, harm reduction and addiction.
The latest survey uses the data of 115,000+ respondents from 25 countries. Their data on cannabis includes how many joints people get from a gram (the average is 7), which nation gets high earliest in the day (the USA) and which country seeks the most medical attention following cannabis use (Greece).
Tobacco mix v Pure: The continental divide
One of the themes in the cannabis section of the survey concerns the use of tobacco/cannabis mix vs pure cannabis in the joints of marijuana tokers. On a global comparison, Italians, Greeks and Hungarians are most likely to smoke a tobacco mix, while Argentines, Colombians and Americans are most likely to smoke it pure.
According to the survey, the popularity of the tobacco/weed mix is very much a European cultural phenomenon, but the data doesn’t tell the whole story. To understand the European tradition of mixing tobacco with cannabis, you need to skip back 20 – 30 years to the era before indoor growing and seed breeding revolutionized cannabis cultivation.
Before this time, most of Europe’s cannabis came from North Africa, the Middle East and India in the form of imported hashish. Older tokers will remember the days of blocks hash, often imprinted with a seal, that came from places like Lebanon, Morocco and the Kush heavy valleys of northern India. Although often smoked in pipes or chillums in their countries of origin, for practical reasons, it was also traditional to mix with tobacco; it burned better and lasted longer.
Europeans, introduced to hash on their travels, copied these ways. There was another practical reason too. As joints were made for sharing, mixing with tobacco provided a spliff to go around the circle! In contrast, hash was never so big in the USA and the Americas. There was no domestic production and no hash producing neighbours nearby, while the climate and methodology meant better weed was grown outside (or imported from Mexico and Central/South America).
In the USA, there is no traditional culture of adding tobacco to the mix - which makes for a longer, more leisurely smoke. In the USA, ‘grass’ has traditionally been smoked pure, in small joints, with two or three ‘hits’, before passing it on. It is a tradition that has caught many visiting Europeans by surprise, smoking on a joint like they do back home and often paying the price!
Health Benefits of Going Pure
The Global Drug Survey encourages safer ways to consume, a subject we have featured in Paradise Seeds news in the past.
The tobacco mix is a European tradition that has endured, even though good (home grown) quality weed has replaced imported hash. As well as cultural there is also a perceived economic benefit (making your stash last longer). However, many of those who do cut out tobacco, often discover they don’t actually smoke much more weed as a result because their body no longer craves the evil Nicotine that often made them reach to roll joint after joint!