Comparison of subjective, pharmacokinetic, and physiological effects of marijuana smoked as joints and blunts.Drug Alcohol Depend 2009; 103(3):107-13DA
Recent increases in marijuana smoking among the young adult population have been accompanied by the popularization of smoking marijuana as blunts instead of as joints. Blunts consist of marijuana wrapped in tobacco leaves, whereas joints consist of marijuana wrapped in cigarette paper. To date, the effects of marijuana smoked as joints and blunts have not been systematically compared. The current within-subject, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study sought to directly compare the subjective, physiological, and pharmacokinetic effects of marijuana smoked by these two methods. Marijuana blunt smokers (12 women and 12 men) were recruited and participated in a 6-session outpatient study. Participants were blindfolded and smoked three puffs from either a blunt or a joint containing marijuana with varying Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentrations (0.0, 1.8, and 3.6%). Subjective, physiological (heart rate, blood pressure, and carbon monoxide levels) and pharmacokinetic effects (plasma THC concentration) were monitored before and at specified time points for 3h after smoking. Joints produced greater increases in plasma THC and subjective ratings of marijuana intoxication, strength, and quality compared to blunts, and these effects were more pronounced in women compared to men. However, blunts produced equivalent increases in heart rate and higher carbon monoxide levels than joints, despite producing lower levels of plasma THC. These findings demonstrate that smoking marijuana in a tobacco leaf may increase the risks of marijuana use by enhancing carbon monoxide exposure and increasing heart rate compared to joints.