Study: Marijuana Use May Increase Risk of Nicotine Addiction
9:01 AM, Apr 24, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
A study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that "[m]arijuana use makes tobacco use more pleasurable and may increase the user’s risk for becoming addicted to nicotine." Experiments involving rats found that those animals exposed to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, self-administered nicotine at higher rates than rats with no such exposure. This connection raises concern that pot may be a "gateway" drug to nicotine.
During the experiments, the subjects that had been exposed to THC were significantly more inclined to self-administer nicotine after ten sessions than those subjects who were not exposed to THC. The graph below illustrates the contrast in behavior:
Earlier studies have documented the connection between marijuana and cigarette use, but the results of this experiment seem to indicate the connection goes beyond personal, social, and environmental reasons to suggest a pharmacological link:
Not only did the experiment subjects "self-administer nicotine more readily," but also to "work harder for it." Dr. Steven Goldberg, one of the scientists involved in the experiments, also pointed out the "relatively long time interval between THC exposure and nicotine consumption in the study."
The researchers involved in these experiments believe that their results call for further study:
The recent drive for legalization of marijuana, successful in Colorado and Washington, and the apparent softening of the Obama administration's attitude of law enforcement regarding the drug has refocused attention on the potential long- and short-term effects of increased usage. With society's increased intolerance for cigarette and nicotine use even as toleration of marijuana use increases, the results of these experiments may add a new dimension to the debate.
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