Marijuana Use Terms Are Vast and Ever-Changing
When it comes to common terms for marijuana and marijuana use, there is no dearth of slang and word choices today. Some terms are more prevalent in spoken word in some parts of the U.S. or other countries; and, terms that may be popular today may fall from favor tomorrow—just as some terms that once were common no longer are.
Take the term spliff. What does it mean, and where did it originate? How has it changed over time? For anyone who has overheard the term or wants more details about a spliff or the definition, here is some information that may be helpful.
History of the Term Spliff
Historians of cannabis often point to the West Indian origins of the term spliff, specifically mentioning Jamaica as the originating country. What native Jamaicans refer to as a spliff, though, is a product that only contains marijuana. There’s no tobacco in it. Their slang term, in typical Jamaican English, means an especially potent or large joint.
According to cannabis culture media, spliffs are more popular in countries outside of the United States. This is especially true in some European countries where cannabis users enjoy tobacco along with the THC-laden ingredient.
What is a Spliff?
A spliff is a convenient way to smoke a combination of two habit-forming substances: marijuana and tobacco. While the term spliff may be familiar to some, it’s foreign to others.
What it Contains
Tobacco is the addition to the cigarette-like product that gives a buzz of energy to users in a spliff, which also contains a heady dose of marijuana. Users like to roll their product because they can customize it to their preferences, controlling the mixture and ratio of tobacco and marijuana. There are also several paper choices to select from, ranging from plain unflavored papers to distinctly fruity-flavored papers like watermelon, banana, honey, and green apple.
Spliff vs. Joint
Cannabis culture is rife with lore about joints. Briefly, a joint is a marijuana product rolled in white cigarette paper. A spliff, on the other hand, is a combination of marijuana and tobacco that is mixed and rolled together. The amount of cannabis in a joint, though, is typically higher than what’s found in a spliff. According to some anecdotal accounts, there’s up to a gram of marijuana in a joint, whereas a spliff may contain only half that amount of cannabis.
Spliff vs. Blunt
How does a “blunt” differ from a joint and how does it compare to a spliff? A blunt, instead of being rolled in white cigarette paper, is rolled in brown paper like a cigar. It also contains a mixture of marijuana and tobacco, just like the spliff, although in a spliff, the concentration of the two substances is higher.
As for the meaning of spliff, many consider it a hybrid between joints and blunts. Simply put, spliffs are cigarettes containing cannabis with a tobacco punch.
Health Concerns With a Spliff
What specific health concerns are there with a spliff? For one thing, spliffs contain tobacco. This substance is a well-known carcinogen. Cancer from smoking tobacco is a risk that should be taken seriously.
A small study published in the European Respiratory Journal found increased lung cancer risk among young adults using cannabis long-term. While researchers cautioned the results are conflicting and limited, they also noted that there may be a greater potential for lung cancer from smoking cannabis than tobacco. Why? In cannabis cigarettes, there’s up to two times the concentration of polyaromatic hydrocarbons. These are carcinogenic. And in spliffs, the tobacco is packed less densely than cigarettes. Spliffs are often smoked without filters.
Cannabis smokers typically inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers. The result is a greater accumulation of carcinogenic ingredients in the respiratory tract. The long-term lung cancer risk of smoking one cannabis joint a day is equal to smoking about 20 tobacco cigarettes a day.
Another study noted that cannabis is a complex plant that has 400-plus chemical entities. Sixty of these chemical entities are cannabinoid compounds. Some of those compounds are known to have effects that oppose each other. Cannabis potency has been increasing worldwide and several studies found some evidence of links between dose-related use of cannabis and an increased risk of developing a psychotic illness.
Cannabis also affects users differently. Not everyone experiences adverse effects from using the substance, although those who are chronic cannabis users and consume higher potency cannabis are likelier to be more vulnerable to negative long-term health consequences.
On the other hand, marijuana consumed for medical purposes brings much-needed relief to individuals experiencing several different medical and mental health conditions. These include marijuana taken for anxiety, depression, opioid use disorder, chronic pain, and other conditions. For example, someone with chronic pain or pain who doesn’t respond to other forms of medication may turn to marijuana to alleviate the agony. Similarly, many individuals with a terminal illness or who are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy may be prescribed medical marijuana to help ease problematic nausea that so often accompanies cancer treatment.
Are Spliffs More Addictive Than Marijuana?
If smoking a spliff can make a profound difference and improve the quality of life for these individuals who are coping with terminal or chronic pain that doesn’t respond to other treatments or medications, who’s to say that’s not in their best interests? And if diagnosable anxiety or PTSD is the reason that someone turns to using a marijuana-containing spliff, and smoking the spliff helps ease their discomfort, that seems like a reasonable means of coping.
Still, there is the possibility that non-stop spliff use could lead to dependence and addiction. A spliff is still marijuana, even though it also contains tobacco. And marijuana can become habit-forming and difficult to stop using, no matter what the initial reason for beginning use. An estimated 4.8 million people in the U.S. had marijuana use disorder in 2019, according to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Also in 2019, of the 58.1 million current users of tobacco, 45.9 million were current cigarette smokers.
Still, there’s less likelihood that a spliff will create the kind of euphoria or high that a joint can produce. In that respect, smoking spliffs is less likely to result in addiction than a strict consumption of marijuana. Another point to consider is the potency of the cannabis selected to combine in the spliff, joint, or blunt. Highly potent cannabis, or marijuana with extremely potent levels of THC, consumed excessively or with increasing frequency, can lead to dependence and addiction—whether it’s in a joint, a blunt, or a spliff.
Also, the tobacco contained in a spliff is a stimulant. The mellowing aspect of the cannabis ingredient is countered, to a certain extent, by the tobacco stimulant. Someone may think they’re not becoming dependent on the substances when they smoke spliffs. That may not always be the case.
Seeking Help for Spliff Use
If spliff use is causing problems, or if there’s a concern about increasing spliff use, contact us to learn how we may be able to help. Our caring professionals are always available to provide confidential answers to frequent questions, to serve as a resource for additional assistance, and to let you know you’re not alone. There’s no obligation and no pressure. Call today to begin the journey to a healthier, happier tomorrow.