There is one aspect of America marijuana consumption that public health experts should consider good news. American marijuana consumers have a tradition of not mixing their marijuana with tobacco, unlike most other industrialized nations.
The 2014 Global Drug Survey found only 7 percent of American marijuana users who chose to take part in the survey said they smoke marijuana by mixing it with tobacco. By comparison in many European countries, like France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, it is over 80 percent. It is very common in other countries to mix tobacco in with marijuana when rolling joints. This survey does suffer the limitation of being a self nominating sample but it should provide a decent general idea of basic patterns.
Tobacco is more addictive than marijuana and more harmful to the lungs. In addition there is some research that indicates mixing them can created added issues. Studies indicate combining them might increase the chances of dependency for one, the other or both.
American policymakers who design the regulations around legal marijuana should focus on trying to maintain or even improve this relatively healthier habit. Fortunately it is easy to maintain cultural habits than break them or start new ones.
Already we are moving this direction. For example, Colorado’s rules specifically forbid marijuana retailers to sell or give away cigarettes or tobacco products.
As there is a growing acceptance that marijuana should be legalized more focus should be put on how to regulate in the best way possible.
Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy