Will joints or blunts get you higher? Which is healthier? Which will make you look sexier? All of your questions answered by science.

It is the eternal question for those who like to roll their own – should they make a joint or a blunt?

First, what is the difference?

  • A joint is when you create a cannabis cigarette with light, semi-translucent rolling paper.
  • A blunt is when you use tobacco paper (same as is used to roll cigars), which is thicker and dark brown. This tobacco paper also delivers some nicotine to the user.

Aficionados will swear by one or the other, but you may question whether it really makes much difference. Folk knowledge says that blunts will get you higher, an issue which HERB investigated and came to the following conclusion:

“Consider this myth busted. Blunts do not make you higher than joints.”

But what science went into their analysis? (Hint: none).

I’m here to tell you that an entire clinical study was performed at Columbia University comparing joints and blunts. They assessed the good effects (how much THC was delivered to the body, how high the subjects felt) as well as the bad effects (increase in heart rate, carbon monoxide levels).

Let’s use science to settle this debate once and for all!

[Flickr/ Thomas Hawk]

The Scientific Study of Joints and Blunts

Regular cannabis smokers (12 men and 12 women) were recruited to participate in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The study had 6 different sessions. In each session, participants were blindfolded and smoked 3 puffs from either a joint or a blunt containing different THC levels: 0% (placebo), 1.8%, and 3.6%.

The following assessments were made over the next 3 hours after smoking:

  • Blood samples to measure THC levels
  • Subjective ratings of the quality of the cannabis
  • Subjective ratings of the drug effect
  • Heart rate & blood pressure
  • Carbon monoxide levels

(Note: For simplicity, I am only reporting results with the 3.6% THC cannabis. However, similar trends were seen across both THC strengths)

Joints vs. Blunts: THC Delivery

No way around it…joints win this category hands down. Smoking joints led to THC levels that were 52% higher than smoking blunts!

Joints vs. Blunts: Getting High

The Marijuana Rating Form was used to assess subject’s ratings of the quality and strength of the cannabis. This form includes items such as “Take Again”, “Liking”, and “Strong”. Not surprisingly (given that joints delivered more THC), subjects rated every item higher for joints than blunts. In fact, the cannabis in joints was rated about 50% better than blunts. This matches up perfectly with the increased amount of THC delivered!

The rating scale for subjective drug effects showed similar results. This scale measures things like “Good Drug Effect” and “High”.  Subjects rated the positive drug effects to be about 50% better with joints than with blunts.

Another interesting finding was that the difference between joints and blunts was much stronger for women than for men. Not surprising since many other differences have been noted in the effects of cannabis between men and women. For example: Sex Differences in the Effects of CannabisWhy Does Cannabis Make Guys Hungrier Than Girls?

[Flickr/ Terry Hamilton]

Joints vs. Blunts: Negative Effects

A mild increase in heart rate is a well known effect of smoking cannabis. In this study, a similar increase in heart rate was seen after smoking either a joint or blunt. This was despite the fact that joints delivered more THC and got subjects higher.

This may be due to carbon monoxide, which also increases heart rate. A higher level of exhaled carbon monoxide was measured in subjects who smoked blunts compared with joints. This is due to the tobacco leaf that are used to roll blunts. Unfortunately, there are many chemicals in tobacco smoke with consequences to your health:

“Carbon monoxide contributes to cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. The elevated carbon monoxide levels observed after blunt smoking may be representative of other toxic gasses and particulates found in tobacco smoke…including carcinogens such as phenols, nitrosamines, aldehydes, and volatile hydrocarbons.”

[Flickr/ Unai Mateo]

Conclusion

The results of this study show that joints are the clear winner!

  • Joints deliver more THC per puff than blunts
  • Joints get you higher than blunts – with the same amount of cannabis
  • Joints expose you to less carbon monoxide and other dangerous chemicals

Although I personally prefer a vaporizer, I hope this provides valuable information to those who like to roll 🙂

Did you know that smoking is only one of 7 Ways to Consume Cannabis?

And for those interested in the interactions between nicotine and cannabis, I will be writing an article on this soon – sign up for the mailing list to be alerted when it is done!

[Featured image credit: Flickr/ Rafael Castillo]

Last modified: June 22, 2017

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