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Smoking Spliffs: An American’s Perspective 

Written by Alexandra Hicks

Although it’s the least health-conscious way to consume cannabis, my preferred method is by rolling up a good old fashioned blunt. Aside from the fun of actually rolling the blunt (it’s an activity in and of itself), I’ve always enjoyed the way I feel after smoking one. I always assumed that it was because I was smoking a relatively large amount of weed in one sitting (which obviously is one of the primary reasons for the effects), but lately, I’ve been realizing that it also has a lot to do with the addition of tobacco.  

Worldwide, blended blunts and joints are much more common than ones rolled with only weed. As a matter of fact, Americans are some of the only people in the world who don’t smoke spliffs; in other countries, the practice is viewed as strange and wasteful. Although it hasn’t caught on here yet, their global acclaim means something could be said for why so many cannabis users enjoy mixing a little bit of tobacco with their pot. Let’s take a closer look.  

Tobacco 101: History, effects, and modern-day use 

Tobacco has been used for thousands of years. The first documented use is from over 8,000 years ago, but it’s possible that it was used before that even. Tobacco cultivation likely started in Central Mexico around 5,000 BC; however, it was likely grown in many areas from there between what is now the Southwestern US in that time period. It was originally used by Native Americans as both a religious sacrament and medicinal product. 

Tobacco dry leaf and tobacco green leaf on a background of processed tobacco

When Christopher Columbus arrived in America in the late 1400s, he was gifted tobacco by the local Natives. When he went back to Spain a year later, he took the tobacco with him where it saw a swift and almost immediate surge in popularity. Over the next couple hundred years, tobacco continued to become more widely used and by the late 17th century, some negative health effects of smoking it regularly were coming to light.  

In 1632, Massachusetts became the first state to pass legislation making it illegal to smoke in public. A few other states followed suit, but that wasn’t enough to stop the flourishing tobacco industry (as we can clearly see). Fast forward to the 1900s, and tobacco cigarettes were practically a household product. In 1901, 3.5 billion cigarettes were sold in the United States alone. That number surged to 398.3 billion by 2001, but thanks to campaigns highlighting the dangers of smoking, sales declined by roughly 45 percent to 203.7 billion in 2020.  

It’s worth noting that the cigarettes smoked today are worlds away from the natural, rolled tobacco that was consumed centuries ago. Over the last several decades new and increasingly harmful ingredients have been added to standard cigarettes, and the tobacco industry has ramped up their marketing strategies to target younger populations.  

The origin of the spliff 

Although technically, a spliff is any type of blended smoke, the term is typically used to denote a mix of cannabis and tobacco. The world itself comes from Jamaica (like the blunt), and as Jamaican immigrants started to settle in the United Kingdom, the use of spliffs began to take hold throughout the UK and eventually, the rest of Europe.  

Over time, as people traversed the world and moved across continents, they brought the “spliff” with them and it soon became of the preferred methods of smoking weed in many different countries spanning several continents. 

It’s hard to say why the trend never caught on in the United States… or maybe it did at one point but eventually fizzled out? But even old-time stoners I’ve talked to who were smoking in the 60s and 70s say that they did NOT smoke spliffs. Even so, it is still the way many people choose to toke up across the pond, despite the fact that tobacco has been getting some bad press over the last couple decades.  

From blunts to spliffs 

Again, I’m a blunt smoker. When I want a somewhat cleaner experience, I use a bong or I vape concentrates. But if it’s up to me, I’m usually voting for a nice fatty. Because I’ve been smoking blunts for well over a decade, I’ve had the pleasure of trying many, many, different blunt wraps. That includes many alternative wraps that have no tobacco in them, such as hemp or palm leaves, but for some reason, I prefer tobacco (specifically, swishers and backwoods).  

Having said that, the transition from blunts to splits was really easy. At first it sounded weird to mix tobacco with my precious weed but then I realized I had essentially already been smoking “spliffs” the entire time. Since the blunt wrap is already made of tobacco, it’s not a far stretch to add just a little bit of extra tobacco to the mix to fluff it up a bit.  

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You can use any mix you want, but lately, when I choose to roll a spliff, I’ve been doing a roughly 30/70 mixture, with 30 percent tobacco and 70 percent weed. Since I smoke good weed with very bold and noticeable flavor profiles, it dominates and I can honestly hardly taste a difference when I roll a bit of loose tobacco into my already tobacco-wrapped blunt.  

Saving weed and money

The main reason I started rolling spliffs lately is simply to save weed. Life is expensive and sometimes you need to cut costs wherever you can. I’d prefer not to write weed out of my budget entirely, and it’s not that cheap in Indiana, so the only workaround is to make it last as long as possible.  

I mean, think about it. If you’re somewhere that cannabis is still illegal, you’re paying upwards of $200 per ounce. Not saying the money could be better spent elsewhere because I personally feel like pot is worth it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t wise to minimize your drug spending in any way possible. When a bag of loose tobacco is selling at $1-3 per ounce, you can start to see why it makes such a perfect filler, from an economical standpoint at least.  

And I personally didn’t notice very much difference in effects either. Maybe a slightly more heady, energetic buzz, but since I’m already used to smoking tobacco in my blunts, and the mixture I used was more than half weed, the experience was pretty much no different than smoking a regular blunt. So I save weed and money while maintaining the flavor and integrity of the smoke, it’s a win-win in my book. 

Final thoughts  

Just to clarify, I’m not advocating for smoking tobacco regularly because it is unhealthy. But in reality, smoking weed (or anything for that matter) and inhaling said smoke into your lungs, is also unhealthy. But most people who smoke are already aware of this, so if it’s a risk you’re willing to take, mixing tobacco with your weed can be a great way to make your weed last longer and even change up the high a little if that’s what you’re going for.  

Do you smoke spliffs? Do you prefer them over regular joints and blunts? Let us know what you think by dropping us a line in the comment section below, we love to hear from our readers! 

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About the author

Alexandra Hicks

Managing editor at Cannadelics and U.S based journalist, helping spread the word about the many benefits of using cannabis and psychedelics.