What's the skinny on spliffs?
February 23, 2016 6:00 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine, who is someone I might potentially want to date, rolls and smokes a spliff every day before going to bed (and occasionally up to 3 or so on special occasions). I don't know anyone else who smokes this way, and I'd like to learn more about the effects of this kind of smoking, both because I have been joining in when I am with my friend, and because I want to know what I'm getting into if I try to date this person. Specific questions inside.

For reference: I do not smoke cigarettes at all. I smoke weed (in whatever form it is offered) when offered to me by friends (95% of the time this is just plain joints with marijuana only, the other 5% being things like using a vaporizor or a bong—I'd never smoked a spliff before I met this friend). Until recently, that meant smoking once every six months or so. Lately, it's been more like once every couple weeks. (I guess I just know more people who smoke now.)

1) What are the health consequences of smoking 1 spliff per day? My friend uses loose tobacco mixed about half and half with his weed.

2) How much would this kind of daily smoking be likely to affect someone's functionality over time? My friend can clearly get things done now; he's a very high achiever who excels in the professional school we are both enrolled in, and has been smoking this way for at least a decade. Given that, is the effect of this habit on getting things done something I should worry about/consider at all as I decide whether or not I want to try dating him?

3) For my friend, this is a totally entrenched habit. I am not aware of a single day he has not smoked for the 6 months I have known him. He brings it with him when he travels, even to things like conferences, or if he's traveling overseas. How would a habit like this be likely to affect a dating relationship? What are potential areas of conflict I should look out for? (Possession of the amounts of marijuana he usually has on hand is legal in the jurisdiction where we live.)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Just to answer your first question:

I have seen studies suggesting that just one cigarette a day can more than double the risk of dying from heart disease, though from what I've read, light smokers are at much lower risk than heavy smokers for the other harmful effects like lung cancer.
posted by 256 at 6:12 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

1. I'd be more worried about the tobacco, honestly. But I'm not a doctor, and I don't know what the long-term effects are of either. You know, if he was open to switching to vaping, it would be so much safer. Is switching the method of partaking off the table? That could be a problem.

2. Very very little unless the amount he smokes increases over time. Then your tolerance rises and it becomes harder to sustain. He may have to worry about accumulating the drug in his system. After *years* of use, he may find he feels sickly or foggy, even when not smoking. Then it's time to take a break for 1-3 months. Also, he should worry about smoking and taking anti-depressants, it can definitely have an effect on the uptake of the meds. Again, taking a break should re-set this.

3. It affects your relationship if it is a problem for either of you. Does his behaviour change while under the influence? Does it bother you? Does the smell bother you? Does his inability or willingness to change if you need him to bother you? Does he put it before people or activities he would otherwise be doing?

Those are just my thoughts based on my own experience...
posted by Dressed to Kill at 6:15 AM on February 23, 2016

I'm not that worried about 1 & 2; light smoking has some health risks, but lots of things have some health risks, and I don't see much difference between this and a glass of wine/scotch or a bottle of beer every night for relaxation, so I wouldn't worry about functionality. 3 would be a bit more worrying, because while the amount of weed he's carrying/smoking might be legal where you are, it's certainly not legal everywhere, and if he can't take a break at all, he's essentially rolling the dice on getting arrested every time he travels.
posted by protocoach at 6:41 AM on February 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Husband has done this (no tobacco though) almost every single day for as long as I've known him (24 years). He just switched to vaping about 6 weeks ago. I'm not aware of any significant effects except that he eats dinner and has a good night's sleep. Probably better than mine.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:43 AM on February 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

this is really no different than a glass or two of wine before bed. if he was looking to get healthier, dropping the tobacco would be a good move (and as it's an upper, he'll sleep better), but this amount of tobacco or weed won't really change his long term outcomes enough to notice as long as he'd keep up with other heart healthier activities.
posted by nadawi at 6:53 AM on February 23, 2016

Anyone who regularly brings pot on trips overseas is in gigantic danger of arrest and imprisonment. It isn't legal everywhere.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:30 AM on February 23, 2016 [15 favorites]

I would be most worried about #3. Even if weed is legal where you live, it isn't legal everywhere. And if you are traveling with him to someplace where weed isn't legal - and he gets arrested - YOU could face charges too, depending on if you're seen as an accessory or are pressured to testify against him. Arrests and prison are all kinds of no fun.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:47 AM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yes, #3--in particular the "overseas" bit--strikes me as the actions of someone with astonishingly poor judgment. Which might be a red flag for other areas of his life as well.
posted by tiger tiger at 7:55 AM on February 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

I would be most worried about 3 as it is a pretty stupid thing to do. I would not travel with him by air overseas/internationally and I would probably be pretty iffy on interstate/international car travel, especially if it's for an extended vacation somewhere when he might be carrying enough to last him a week or more. I'm reminded of a recent (deleted) askme about someone who is facing jail time due to giving a ride in their own car to someone carrying a substantial amount of weed. I would make sure he (and you) are very aware of when and where you can refuse to consent to a physical search or search by dogs and in which jurisdictions such things are more likely to come up than in others.

There is nothing wrong with him doing it at home, or with him doing it out and about in ways that endanger only himself. It's shitty for him to do it in ways that could blow back on you or anyone else accompanying him.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:24 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Smoking weed:Vaping weed::Riding horses:automobiles

Consuming weed every day isn't a big deal and can have a lot of short and long-term benefits. It affects everyone is slightly different ways. As much as it can be a short-term appetite stimulant, there is some evidence that it's also a bit of an appetite suppressant long-term.

There was a study a while back that suggested that moderate, daily alcohol use is correlated with longer life expediencies. One of the hypothesis to explain this is that people stress about their life and then they worry about how stressed they are, and so-on in a feedback loop. A drink or two shorts out that loop. I would think that, if there is any truth to that, weed's relaxing and anti-depressant properties would work the same way.

There are some downsides to smoking vs. vaping that have similar risks to cigarettes (though it's not nearly as bad for you as tobacco). Vaping is also a ton smoother and more efficient. People have told me, "But I like the ceremony of rolling a joint." and it sounds to me like someone refusing to drive a car saying, "I like the ceremony of brushing and saddling a horse and then shoveling up it's poop."

The down-sides to consuming cannabis every day that I can think of are:
1. Short-term memory. Even when not under the influence, remembering names and titles can be a bit more difficult. If he has already been using for a few years, it's not going to get any worse than it is right now and you say he is a very successful student so his mildly-impaired short-term memory is still probably better than most people's unaffected memory.

2. No dreams. I think this is connected to the short-term memory thing. You just fall asleep and wake up rested but feeling like only a moment has passed and can't ever remember if you even had a dream, let alone what the dream was. My hypothesis is that you still have dreams and REM sleep and whole thing, you just can't ever remember that you had the dream when you wake up.

So I would encourage him to switch to a vaporizer and drop the tobacco but unless the behavior bothers you, I wouldn't even be too concerned about that.
posted by VTX at 8:26 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

From experience: I'd also consider whether such sustained smoking is self-medicating for a mental health problem, or otherwise masking some kind of issues. Not that it has to be, by any means! But it might be, and if it is, you might want to consider whether the underlying problem is one that might affect you, and if so, what you think about that.
posted by emilyw at 8:27 AM on February 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

Re: spliffs specifically - If the purpose of the tobacco is merely to dilute/stretch out the weed, there are alternative smoking blends available for this purpose, which might be preferable to the long-term effects of tobacco.
posted by Gordafarin at 8:51 AM on February 23, 2016

If it helps, I've been a daily weed smoker for over 30 years. I'm not in an incapacitated stupor. I've managed to house, feed and clothe my family by running my own web development service for the last 20 years.

It's abuse and dependency that you need to worry about.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:05 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

I sometimes think that my dopiness comes from all of the pot I do and have smoked, but then I took a 3 year break and realized that pot wasn't to blame.
posted by rhizome at 2:13 PM on February 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Honestly I think you shouldn't date this person just based on the fact that you're asking this question. But since that is really the hidden question under the real questions, I'll address what you asked:

1) Not enough for it to cause you concern

2) Not any more than it already has since this has been habitual for years already

3) Arrest for possession would be the only thing you should concern yourself with, and if he's bringing like 1 joint per night he's traveling I don't realistically see anything coming of that.

Date someone you're compatible with though, for reals. It'll be easier on all of you.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 2:40 PM on February 23, 2016

It's not a habit, it's an addiction. Your friend is certainly addicted to tobacco, and based on the fact that he brings pot with him on overseas trips, I think there is a reasonable argument to be made that he's addicted to the pot as well. Someone who uses pot for recreational purposes should be able to take it or leave it. The fact that he can't just "leave it" when he travels is a massive red flag.

Also, I'm surprised that no one has brought this up, but you run the risk of getting addicted to tobacco yourself if you are smoking spliffs on any sort of recurring basis.
posted by TheCavorter at 6:55 AM on February 24, 2016

i would be shocked if any meaningful physical addiction would present itself in half a cigarette a day.
posted by nadawi at 7:07 AM on February 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

Someone who uses pot for recreational purposes should be able to take it or leave it. The fact that he can't just "leave it" when he travels is a massive red flag.

I think things like this can be preferences without being addictions.
posted by rhizome at 3:56 PM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

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