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Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
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A “spliff” is a mixture of marijuana flower and loose tobacco leaves rolled in white cigarette paper. Spliffs typically contain about 50% weed and 50% tobacco, but users can adjust the proportions of each based on their personal preferences.
The combination of tobacco and weed delivers a heady buzz that can carry the highly addictive qualities of nicotine. “Spliffs” are more popular in Europe, the Caribbean, and other places than North America.
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What Is a Spliff?
Spliffs are blended smokes that contain weed and tobacco rolled in the cigarette paper used by tobacco smokers.
The term “spliff” is believed to have originated in the West Indies, with the word possibly a blend of “split,” referring to the ready-made wrap, and “whiff,” referring to the odor of the smoke. In Jamaica today, “spliff” is a slang term that refers to a cigarette that contains cannabis but no tobacco.
However, beyond the shores of Jamaica, “spliff” almost always means a mixture of weed and loose-leaf tobacco. Spliffs are particularly popular in the UK and Europe but are not as widely used in the United States.
Spliffs are relatively easy to roll and smoke. The presence of tobacco can contribute to a smoother, more consistent smoking experience (as cannabis smoked alone can need to be re-lit multiple times, but you can avoid this by using more dried herb or utilizing a vaporizer instead).
Spliffs are typically favored by those looking for a buzzy, energetic high cheaper than smoking pure cannabis. Tobacco papers are available in various flavors, which can add another dimension to the spliff.
Spliffs vs. Blunts vs. Joints
Spliffs, blunts, and joints are three of the most common ways of smoking weed. These three delivery methods can be distinguished by the quantities of cannabis and tobacco present and the rolling material used.
As explained above, spliffs contain a mixture of tobacco leaves blended with cannabis flower rolled in cigarette paper. On the other hand, a joint is a hand-rolled marijuana cigarette that contains pure cannabis but no tobacco. Joints are also rolled in cigarette papers (sometimes called joint papers or joint rolling papers).
A blunt is a roll of cannabis inside a cigar wrap (also known as a “blunt wrap”). Blunt wraps are made from tobacco; however, the blunt itself doesn’t contain tobacco. Blunts are larger than joints or spliffs and last longer. They are often passed around in social settings; thus, the origin of the phrase “pass the blunt.” Despite the aversion to mixing tobacco and cannabis in the U.S., blunts are still quite popular nationwide.
Pros and Cons
There is a range of pros and cons associated with smoking spliffs. Cannabis users and tobacco smokers who enjoy spliffs often cite the following benefits:
- Spliffs represent a way to stretch your weed supply, making for a more affordable cannabis smoking experience.
- They offer a means of achieving a more subtle high as the potential for intoxication is subdued by the presence of tobacco.
- They burn slower and more evenly than joints, allowing a smoother smoking experience to re-light the cannabis material without interruption.
- The nicotine in tobacco releases adrenaline, giving a buzz of pleasure and energy. Combined with the THC in cannabis, a spliff delivers an uplifting high.
- They can be personalized, with the smoker using as much or as little tobacco as they prefer.
Spliffs also come with some drawbacks. A 2020 study of spliffs outlined some of the disadvantages associated with their usage:
- Spliffs contain nicotine, which is highly addictive.
- Spliff smokers are exposed to carcinogenic compounds that arise as a result of tobacco combustion. Cannabis smoking also produces harmful compounds but is not as dangerous as tobacco. The carcinogens in tobacco can contribute to illnesses such as lung cancer, and you are therefore exposed to the damage tobacco can cause.
- Spliffs may not taste as appealing as pure weed since tobacco is often associated with an acrid, harsh taste.
How to Roll a Spliff
Rolling spliffs is a relatively straightforward process. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:
- Select your cigarette rolling papers. Plain unflavored papers are standard for rolling a spliff, but you can also opt for flavored papers that enhance the experience of your smoke. Popular flavored options include watermelon, strawberry, pineapple, and marshmallow.
- Determine your ratio of weed to tobacco, and prepare your mixture. Spliffs require quality, refined tobacco for rolling. Grind your cannabis flower.
- Holding the paper in a U shape with the glue edge facing up, place the filter at one end. The filter can be pre-purchased or make your own paper filter.
- Arrange the blend of tobacco and weed along the center of the paper, moving out from the filter. Try to arrange the bud as evenly as possible to ensure an even burn and prevent bulges.
- Holding the paper taut, roll and tuck the paper around the tobacco-cannabis mixture. Use a tiny lick or dab of water to fasten the paper down in that spot.
- Using the glued end as a guide, roll the rest of the paper into place, ensuring the spliff is evenly packed. Wet the adhesive part and seal it. This is one of the trickier steps and takes practice.
- You will probably have some extra room at the tip of your joint. Use your fingers and a packer tool to load it with leftover tobacco and weed. You can also pack the weed down by tapping the filter end on a flat surface, which helps remove air pockets that can prevent the spliff from burning evenly.
- Seal the tip of the spliff.
Due to the dangers of tobacco, we do not recommend medical cannabis patients utilize this method of consumption.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it called a spliff?
There’s a lack of consensus in cannabis culture about the origins of the word “spliff.” However, it’s believed to have originated in the West Indies. Urban legend claims that it is a blend of “split,” which refers to the ready-made cigarette wrap, and “whiff,” referring to the smell of the smoke.
Does a spliff feel different?
A spliff feels different from smoking a joint because it contains tobacco. The active compound in tobacco is nicotine, which delivers a near-instantaneous energizing buzz when smoked. The combination of weed and tobacco makes for a more uplifting, heady high. However, it’s important to point out that a spliff won’t make you more intoxicated than a joint, and you may feel the addictive effects of the nicotine contained in tobacco.