For many people, the very suggestion of mixing tobacco with cannabis is a horrific one. And while sometimes opposites attract, many don’t consider this particular blend to be a match made in heaven.
While tobacco is known to cause cancer in some people, cannabis and especially CBD, has been shown to shrink cancerous tumors in some patients as well as in mice under clinical studies. Despite tobacco and cannabis being polar opposites in many ways, multistate medical cannabis producer Vireo Health has just secured a patent for “tobacco products infused with cannabis.” That patent covers conventional cigarettes (or spliffs as they’re often referred to), cigars, pipe tobacco and also smokeless tobacco products. Vireo believes that infusing tobacco products with cannabis could make them less harmful, but it seems like a very roundabout way of doing things.
In Europe (as well as countries like Jamaica, Australia, and some in South America) people often mix tobacco with cannabis in joints, bongs or pipes and that practice has been common for decades. A typical cannabis smoker in the UK, for example, will roll a joint containing about 80 percent tobacco, either taken from a cigarette or from a pouch of rolling tobacco. The other 20 percent is ground cannabis, and this leads to a more mellow, more drawn-out experience.
This practice is considered bizarre by many Americans who like to take all of their cannabis in one strong pipe hit or in a potent pure cannabis joint. On the flip side, many Europeans find this method strange and can’t imagine wanting to get that high that fast. Either way, as the statistics have proven over the past few years, the Americans win out hands down in this debate as there cannot be any justification or good reason for smoking tobacco – it’s a known killer.
The company’s reasoning behind securing the patent is that its cannabinoid-infused products are safer than traditional tobacco. As Vireo’s CEO Kyle Kingsley said in a recent press release, “We look forward to collaborating with research institutions and tobacco companies committed to developing less harmful tobacco products.” Sure there are those who won’t even put cannabis and tobacco in the same sentence (let alone smoke it together), but Kingsley and his team are reframing it as a “harm reducing” innovation that could “disrupt the tobacco industry and help save lives.”
Their products infuse at least one cannabinoid into smokeable and smokeless tobacco products and maintain that this reduces irritation to the lungs and throat caused by tobacco smoke. Whole plant cannabis extract can be mixed directly into the tobacco before it’s made into cigarettes or it can be inserted into the filter or the paper the cigarette is wrapped in.
As per a recent report on Leafly, the patent states that: “The use of cannabinoids as tobacco additives may be particularly useful as a mechanism to reduce the carcinogenicity associated with tobacco products. Substantial evidence has been presented that these compounds can reduce tumor growth in animal models of cancer.”
Big tobacco has tried many times to make cigarettes more healthy; often by creating unique blends of tobacco that contain reduced levels of tar and nicotine. This only saw minimal success though as it always corresponded with a far reduced level of user satisfaction and that hurt the tobacco industry on its bottom line. That said, the tobacco industry will likely welcome this patent as the added cannabinoids could ironically keep people smoking for longer since they view the cigarettes as being safer. The tobacco industry is desperate for a long-term solution after 2018 saw smoking rates in the US at an all-time low.
The twist to this story is that it will take a while before you can even purchase cannabis-infused tobacco in cannabis markets or stores as most legal-cannabis states ban retailers from selling products that contain tobacco. Talk about chicken and egg; we’ll let you decide which one came first here.