Teenagers who only use cannabis, not tobacco, seem to function better than teens who consume both, according to a Swiss study. The researchers also found that those who just used cannabis were more socially driven and had no more psychosocial problems than those who had never taken either of the two substances.

You can read about this in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine (JAMA/Archives).

The authors explain that cannabis/marijuana is the most popular illegal drug consumed by young people. Cannabis use is linked to tobacco and other illegal drug use. The authors write "The gateway theory hypothesizes that the use of legal drugs (tobacco and alcohol) is the previous step to cannabis consumption. However, recent research also indicates that cannabis use may precede or be simultaneous to tobacco use and that, in fact, its use may reinforce cigarette smoking or lead to nicotine addiction independently of smoking status."

J. C. Suris, M.D., Ph.D., University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and team looked at information from a 2002 national survey, involving 5,263 Swiss citizens aged 16-20 years. 455 of these people smoked just marijuana (not tobacco), while 1,703 smoked both tobacco and marijuana, while 3,105 consumed neither of the two.

The authors wrote "Our findings in this nationally representative sample of adolescents show that 6 percent of them use cannabis without having used tobacco and that one-fifth of current cannabis users (21.1 percent) declare never having used tobacco."

The researchers found׃
  • 71.6% of those who smoked just marijuana were males
  • 59.7% of those who smoked both were males
  • 47.7% of those who never consumed either substance were male

  • 85.5% of those who smoked just marijuana practiced sports regularly
  • 66.7% of those who smoked both practiced sports regularly

  • 78.2% of those who smoked just marijuana lived with both parents
  • 68.3% of those who smoked both lived with both parents

  • 77.5% of those who smoked just marijuana had good grades
  • 66.6% of those who smoked both had good grades

  • 40.5% of those who smoked just marijuana had been drunk during the previous 30 days
  • 55% of those who smoked both had been drunk during the previous thirty days

  • 25.9% of those who smoked just marijuana started consuming it before they were 15
  • 37.5% of those who smoked both started using marijuana before they were 15

  • 44% of those who smoked just marijuana had smoked it more than once/twice during the previous 30 days
  • 66% of those who smoked both had smoked marijuana more than once/twice during the previous 30 days
The authors concluded "In any case, and even though they do not seem to have great personal, family, or academic problems, the situation of those adolescents who use cannabis but who declare not using tobacco should not be trivialized."

"Some Go Without a Cigarette. Characteristics of Cannabis Users Who Have Never Smoked Tobacco"
J. C. Suris, MD, PhD; Christina Akre, MA; André Berchtold, PhD; André Jeannin, MA; Pierre-André Michaud, MD
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(11):1042-1047.
Click here to view abstract online

Written by - Christian Nordqvist