Link Between Medical Marijuana and Nicotine Use?

Rutgers study finds people who use therapeutic cannabis more likely to use nicotine, too
Cannabis joints
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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — People who use therapeutic cannabis are more likely to use nicotine products than the general population, according to a Rutgers study.

The study from the New Brunswick, N.J.-based school was published in the American Journal on Addictions and surveyed patients attending a medical marijuana dispensary.

“Simultaneous use of cannabis and nicotine is a growing concern, but while the relationship between recreational cannabis and nicotine use is well-established, little is known about nicotine use among users of medical cannabis,” said Mary Bridgeman, a clinical professor at Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy.

Researchers found that nearly 40% of the medical marijuana users surveyed also used nicotine—higher than the 14% of U.S. adults who smoke.

Therapeutic cannabis users who also used electronic cigarettes or didn’t use nicotine at all were about four times more likely to vape, rather than smoke, cannabis than those who exclusively smoked cigarettes, the study found.

It also found that 75% of the respondents smoked cannabis rather than vaped and about 80% of the cigarette smokers reported planning to quit in the next six months.

The findings reveal that while medical cannabis dispensaries may recommend vaping rather than smoking cannabis due to health concerns associated with combustible products, the recommendation alone may not influence patients who also smoke cigarettes, said co-author of the study Marc Steinberg, a professor in the department of psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

“Between the higher rates of nicotine use in those using medical cannabis, the fact that cigarette smokers opt to smoke cannabis as well and that those people also are seeking to quit using nicotine presents a strong argument that dispensaries provide tobacco control messaging at the point‐of‐sale to encourage cigarette smokers to quit,” Steinberg said. “The strategy also could increase the chances that a medical cannabis user would vape the product, which is a less harmful route than smoking.”

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