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The Cannabis Consumer’s Guide to Quitting Tobacco

As someone who suffers from Asthma, I was always told that it wasn’t a sensible idea to smoke.

Perhaps it’s my age; I was born in the late 1980’s, well after the public health worries and anti-smoking movement began, into a world where a lot of people smoked, but at least they knew it was bad for them.

Cannabis and The Gateway Theory

This week, we’ll be looking at a few of the persistent myths that surround the gateway theory and cannabis, including where it comes from and the consequences it can have on the consumer & society. We’ll also be taking a look at the growing evidence that disproves these frankly fraudulent fallacies.

As many of you will be aware there have recently been some divisive documentaries and programs produced around the subject of cannabis which seem to be rehashing archaic, destructive myths and down right lies such as “Skunk Psychosis” “Cannabis Addiction” “Hash having less THC in it than flower” and, of course, “The gateway theory”. Thus continues the British media’s campaign of demonising both cannabis and its consumers.

Let’s talk about that…

Although the term wasn’t first popularised until the 1980’s, the ideas and concept that the Gateway Theory encapsulates have been discussed in academia for decades, as far back as the 1930’s.

Occasionally referred to as “stepping stone theory” or “escalation theory”, it is the idea that the consumption of one drug will increase the user’s likelihood of consuming another.

This idea has been championed by varying individuals over the years but none so much as by anti-drug activist Robert DuPont who, for decades, helped to “guide” American drug policy. This was the man appointed to positions of influence by the father of the modern war on drugs – the racist, warmongering former US president Richard Nixon, who created the war on drugs as a way to control the black population, hippies and anti-war campaigners that were gaining social traction.

John Ehrlichman who was Nixon’s adviser on domestic policy famously said in a 1994 interview that:

“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalising both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. “We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes… and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Read more:

Sadly a “Reefer Madness” hangover still affects us today

Debunking the Gateway Theory

In order to understand why cannabis ISN’T a gateway drug it is first important to understand the difference between “the gateway theory” and the concept of “exposure opportunity” that is created by our current system of prohibition and the draconian legal status of cannabis here in the UK.

Under the current paradigm, the average consumer has to acquire their cannabis from a local dealer who may potentially be involved in serious criminal activities, and happy to also sell their customers far more harmful and potentially lethal illegal drugs.

It is this interaction that creates the exposure opportunity for dealers to become salesmen, pitching their latest product to the naive misguided youth who, disillusioned by cannabis lies, may now seek to further explore the depths of deception of prohibition by ingesting and exploring other illegal substances.

This cannot and should not be blamed on cannabis. The blame in this instance is squarely on our prohibitionist policies and decades of reefer madness propaganda which has been pumped out by successive governments, media outlets, tabloids and other mouth pieces of those ideologically opposed to ending the war on drugs.

The status quo is maintained in part because the fear of risk to investments in industries that could potentially be decimated by the coming global legalisation of cannabis and the ubiquitous implementation of industrial and medicinal applications of cannabis derived technologies and medicines. This stems back to the paper industry in the days of Harry J. Anslinger, when they smeared “marijuana” to protect business interests.

But gettng back to the point, the truth is the opposite to this false notion of cannabis fitting in with the gateway theory: There is little evidence to support it. At the very best there is a correlation in data, but this in no way can imply a casual link or be claimed in any way to be evidence that cannabis is a gateway drug.

The gateway theory
Edit: Should read “Starts with Fields of Wheat” for our current Prime Minister…

Evidence is actually emerging that suggests that cannabis can be (and is being in several US States) utilised as an exit drug, contradicting the gateway theory entirely. It can help addicts to recover from such afflictions as heroin addiction, alcoholism and tobacco addiction, as well as other destructive drug addictions and detrimental behaviours and habits.

In states where Cannabis has been legalised the Opioid abuse and death rates have declined year on year since legalisation. All prescription drug use is down in states with legal access to cannabis. People are taking less prescription medication, including anti-anxiety drus, antidepressants, anti-seizure medication and even painkillers – this is clear evidence of cannabis’ efficacy at treating hundreds if not thousands of conditions.

The four main contenders for the real gateway drug, if indeed any such thing does exist, are Sugar, Alcohol, Prescription pills and Tobacco – all of which could be described as having an escalation usage model. This means the more they’re consumed, the more users are likely to consume in the future, often in higher quantities.

Prescription drugs may actually be a growing pathway to heroin addiction. They are certainly attributed to be the cause of the current opioid epidemic in the west. Drugs available on prescrition include Oxycotin, Fentanyl, benzodiazepine, xanex, and Tramadol, all of which are vastly more deadly to people than illegal drugs, but have until recent years been prescribed like they’re going out of fashion. This has created thousands of addicts who otherwise wouldn’t have had any contact with these potent potentially lethal drugs.

When mentioning heroin addiction, it is worth mentioning Hungarian-born Canadian physician Dr Gabor Maté and the link he discovered through decades of his work in neurology, psychiatry, and psychology, as well as the study and treatment of addiction. He observed that there is an “equal correlation between sexual abuse as a child and dependant intravenous drug use as an adult as there is between obesity to diabetes”

If you’ve suffered childhood trauma, you’re 4600% more likely to become an injecting drug user than if you haven’t.
Meaning that this kind of abuse could be termed a gateway.

Legal drugs and The Gateway Theory

Tobacco has actually been observed to exhibit traits of the gateway theory. In a recent American study scientists found that over 90% of adult cocaine users between the ages of 18 and 34 had smoked cigarettes before they began using cocaine. Researchers suspected that nicotine exposure might increase vulnerability to cocaine.

Contrast this with cannabis which can be used to help tobacco users to quit their carcinogenic habit and live healthier lives Nicotine free.

If anything, alcohol could potentially fit into the debunked gateway theory, as exposure to alcohol lowers the users inhibition, which makes them more susceptible to taking other drugs. As pubs have traditionally been a marketplace of illegal drugs up and down the country, this, coupled with the current cultural acceptance of using cocaine to extend binge drinking sessions makes the alcohol user rather vulnerable and increases their likelihood of poly-drug consumption and addiction issues.

It could and should be argued that poor economic circumstances are one of the main gateways to harder drug use. It is the criminalisation and prohibition of so called soft drugs that has created a gateway to harder drug use.

Legalising cannabis could negate this and a lot of the avoidable deaths and detrimental societal harms and affects caused by tobacco, alcohol and other harmful human behaviours by allowing the public access to a much healthier and safer option of a recreational drug.

In conclusion, its propaganda and prohibition that have caused a great deal of the issues and harms associated with the consumption of cannabis and the perceived social consequences.

Simply put, if cannabis truly is a gateway drug, why aren’t there equal usage statistics for all other harder drugs?

This myth much like prohibition needs burying with the other relics of our haunting history in the shallow grave of the twentieth century.


Watch Let’s Talk About The Gateway Theory here via the ISMOKE YouTube Channel:

How Can We Protect Medical Cannabis Consumers in the UK?

This is an accompanying post to our YouTube video We need to protect medical cannabis consumers in the UK, which you can watch below or by clicking here.

At present, medical cannabis consumers in the UK are subjected to the same laws as any cannabis consumer- that means that if you are using herbal cannabis to treat your condition, you’re a criminal in the eyes of our Government.

The answer to this question is clear – we need to legalise cannabis and regulate access urgently for medical cannabis patients. We need our doctors to be able to prescribe cannabis to patients who would benefit.

Cannabis Oil Scammers: How Prohibition Protects Fraudsters and Thieves

Let’s take a look at how as a direct result of prohibition the UK cannabis scene is littered with cannabis oil scammers, confidence men, criminals, thieves and other nefarious individuals out to make themselves rich off of the backs of patients and consumers.

Unfortunately, it happens daily under prohibition. People in the community can be seen discussing it at length via Social Media – talking about times that they have been conned and that they know or suspect someone in the community of wrong doing and being involved for all the wrong reasons. We’re not just talking about cannabis oil scammers here, but all sorts of unscrupulous behaviours which we will discuss in detail below.

You know, the sort of behaviour that leads far too frequently to online Witch Hunts that devolve into immature behaviour that frankly reflects poorly on the community as a whole.

Cannabis Heroes : Tottenham Compassion Club

tottenham compassion club

One of our reporters has launched a video series all about UK cannabis heroes.

In this new video series produced for Medical Marijuana UK, Miles Casey explores some of the UK cannabis heroes putting themselves on the line for patients.

Miles recently attended one of the TTCC awareness events where he got the footage for this video.

Why is consuming cannabis with tobacco so common in the UK?

This week on ISMOKE we are taking a look at why we British have a propensity to mix our cannabis with tobacco, as well as where we acquired this antiquated practice and what you can do to reduce the associated harms of mixing your cannabis with tobacco and hopefully ultimately quit altogether.

It is difficult to trace the genesis of our affair of combining the two substances.

Read: You should stop mixing tobacco with your cannabis, immediately.

Cannabis and sleep

cannabis and dreaming

It will come as no surprise to the initiated amongst you that the consumption of Cannabis before bed will have you sleeping on a cloud of smoke and will often result in you getting a great night’s sleep, but is this really the case?

This week on ISMOKE we’ll be looking at how consuming Cannabis affects your sleeping pattern, your dreams and the length and quality of sleep that you get after you light up before heading off to the land of nod.

Cannabis vs Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the UK. According to, depression is the predominant mental health problem worldwide. Nearly 20% of the UK population, aged 16 and over, showed some evidence of anxiety or depression, according to the 2014 General Health Questionnaire.

Following on from our feature by Simpa Carter last week about consuming cannabis for depression, today we want to take a detailed look at the cannabis vs depression argument, incorporating some UK patient stories as well as more studies in this area.

The growing amount of people suffering from some form of depression is evident in the fact that, according to a report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), 61 million antidepressants were prescribed in the UK in 2015. That’s 31.6 million more than were prescribed in 2005, and up 3.9m, or 6.8%, on 2014.

The symptoms of depression can often be debilitating. The common mental disorder causes people to experience depressed mood, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, a loss of interest or pleasure, low energy, disturbed appetite or sleeping patterns and poor concentration.

If antidepressants worked, then why are prescription figures rising year after year? Surely there must be something which can better treat the symptoms of depression than pharmaceutical medications.

Wake and Bake with Tyler Green [Episode 15]

Join me for another Wake and Bake session this week (a little later than planned) as I show you a couple of new legal CBD products that I picked up from Synergy of Nature.

Also featuring in this video are a couple more dabbing products from Marvel Extracts and even some homemade Rosin thrown in for good measure.

Cannabis and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

cannabis and post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that can affect anyone at any time and can develop after a person is exposed to highly stressful and traumatic events.

In the majority of cases, the symptoms develop during the first month after a traumatic event. However, in a minority of cases, there may be a delay of months or even years before symptoms start to appear.

The length of time varies from case to case as to how long a person may have PTSD. In some cases, especially when not treated, PTSD can last a very long time, perhaps the remainder of one’s life.

Consuming cannabis for depression

Now that we have explored the links between smoking and schizophrenia, we can talk about using Cannabis as an antidepressant.

With mental health issues becoming ever more of a concern to public health, and at a time of severe austerity in the UK, wouldn’t it make lots of sense to conduct some clinical studies to test the efficacy of using cannabis for depression and the potential savings for the NHS this could bring?

This is why you should stop smoking cannabis with tobacco right now

Stop smoking cannabis with tobacco

Following last week’s story on the study which found that the biggest potential health risks from smoking cannabis is combining it with tobacco, we decided to find out how dangerous tobacco use with cannabis really is, and whether cannabis users would take heed of this warning.

The conclusion from the study that researchers reached was that the majority of health risks from smoking cannabis could be reduced simply by discouraging people from smoking with tobacco. They even went as far as recommending people opt for vaporisers instead.

The study mentioned is not the only study conducted on the impact tobacco has on cannabis use. The British Lung Foundation’s study found that when you smoke cannabis and tobacco together, the harmful effects are significantly worse.

The BLF’s study found that smoking 3-4 joints (cannabis joints with tobacco) a day causes roughly the same damage to smoking a 20 deck of cigarettes a day: leaving users exposed to acute and chronic bronchitis and the same degree of damage to the bronchial mucosa.

The way that users inhale spliffs is one of the main issues. Because cannabis users tend to inhale joints/spliffs deeper than they would a cigarette, the puff volume increases by two-thirds and depth of inhalation by one-third. There is also an average fourfold longer breath-holding time with cannabis than with tobacco. All of this means  is that there is a greater respiratory burden of carbon monoxide and smoke particulates such as tar than when smoking a similar quantity of tobacco.

Smoking cannabis with tobacco also increases dependence, which might sound obvious (seeing as nicotine is the third most addictive substance in the world).  A study in Frontiers in Psychiatry found that mixing between the two substances also vastly increases the risk of dependence in users, both to tobacco and cannabis!

Speaking on the findings, lead researcher from the Frontiers in Psychiatry study, Chandni Hindocha, said: “Cannabis is less addictive than tobacco, but we show here that mixing tobacco with cannabis lowers the motivation to quit using these drugs.”

The study found that it’s primarily Europeans who contaminate their cannabis with tobacco.

The Figures:

Between 77.2-90.9% of Europeans are smoking cannabis with tobacco, compared to 51.6% of Australians.

Compared to only 4.4%of Americans and 16% of Canadians combine cannabis with tobacco, it’s no wonder that UK researchers came out recently to reiterate the dangers of mixing to Brits.

Cannabis, on its own, however, is not addictive. If smoked with tobacco, however, it can reduce your motivation to quit smoking tobacco, which is never a good thing. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the UK, where nearly half-a-million people were were admitted to hospital in 2008-9 due to smoking.  How can you enjoy your herbs if you’re dead?


According to yet another study, smoking tobacco on its own also increases the risk of dependence on cannabis, independent of tobacco itself.

Researchers found that smoking cigarettes mediated the relationship between cannabis use and cannabis dependence, even when controlling for psychological and demographic correlates that might explain this relationship. The suggestion here is that cigarette smoking enhances vulnerability to the harmful effects of cannabis.

So, if you’re craving a joint, it might just be the nicotine in the tobacco you’re craving, not the high from the cannabis!

Gary experienced this craving when he quit tobacco five years ago: “I quit smoking cigs, but still had a joint with tobacco before bed to help with sleep.

“I started craving that Joint. Obviously for the nicotine. It would be on my mind all day.”

It was only when Gary discovered vaporisers that he was able to use cannabis to induce sleep without having the 24hour craving for nicotine: “After I discovered vaporisers I realised I could use cannabis to sleep without the tobacco.

“I mean, obviously, I’d done pipes and stuff, but I preferred the taste with tobacco until I got one of these things.”

The fact that the above study suggested that smoking just 3-4 joints a day may cause the same damages as a full 20 deck should put anyone off using tobacco with their cannabis. This was certainly the case for some of our readers.

Renmko also experienced this nicotine craving before she quit: “The craving for a spliff really came from the nicotine addiction, so once I got that addiction out of the way, it became more like, ‘hmm I could go for a bowl or a joint right now, instead of ‘f*ck mate, I wanna smoke a spliff so bad right now!”

Renmko, however, used cannabis to help her quit tobacco! She told us that before quitting tobacco, she was smoking a pack a day, but has since been smoking cannabis without contaminating it with tobacco: “Smoking pure has helped my lungs massively!

“My physical condition is a lot better, I smell more, I taste more and the effect of pure cannabis is a thousand times better than with tobacco!”

Her advice for other cannabis users addicted to tobacco may sound simplistic, but should resonate with a lot of us: “Just stop it!

“Get a nice bag, prepare yourself for a week of being extremely grumpy and not being able to sleep properly for a week, that’s why smoking a lot in the beginning helps!

“Just do it, it’s the best decision I ever made!”

Kieran shared a similar experience after smoking cannabis helped him cut out his 10-a-day habit.

He told us: “I started smoking when I was 14 year’s old and stopped when I was 19. I spent my teenage years completely abusing my body as that’s what all my friends were doing and I just thought it’s what I’m meant to do.”

However, once Kieran started smoking cannabis daily, he realised the damage tobacco, and alcohol, was having on his body: “When I started really smoking weed all-day-every-day, it made me really feel what’s bad for my body like smoking and drinking alcohol.

“I came to the realisation that I should stop drinking and smoking and just continue to smoke weed. I’ve done so for the past 4-5 year’s now!”

Quitting tobacco, with the help of cannabis, has had an enormously positive impact on Kieran’s life and health: “I’ve been training boxing for over 3 years now, and I’ve had 4 amateur bouts and my fitness is through the roof!

“I credit all this to the fact that smoking cannabis helped me realise my potential and what I should and should not be doing.”

Martin ditched tobacco for a vaporiser, and told us how great the switch has been: “I changed from spliff to vaping, and it’s amazing!

“For the first few days I didn’t think I was getting stoned until I got up to go to bed and then really felt it.

Smoking cannabis without tobacco also may have the potential to enhance your high! It certainly did for Martin: “I definitely prefer the high without the tobacco, I feel less edgy, and I no longer have that craving to smoke again soon after.”

Renmko also attested to the cannabis high being better without tobacco: “There’s better benefits and even a better high.

“Plus, you know what the craziest thing is? Eventually, I actually smoke less cannabis than before!”

So it does seem that cannabis can, in fact, help those addicted to nicotine quit tobacco. However, it’s important to remember that cannabis is not a wonder, cure-all, drug

Andy told us that his nicotine cravings would be impossible to manage without his nicotine mints: “I use nicotine mints for the cravings would be impossible without them, they help so much.”

Andy explained that cannabis oil helps the cravings along with the mints: “I have learned how to cook with cannabis, so I make my own canna-oil now.

“The oil is amazing and so much stronger than smoking it! I’m sticking to my mints and oil from now on!”

Smoking tobacco in any sense is a bad idea. Coupled with the fact you inhale spliffs deeper and for longer, it may be a wise idea to roll that next one pure.


Exploring the links between smoking and schizophrenia

Today, I want to tackle the argument that “Cannabis causes schizophrenia”. This argument is a fundamentally misleading and untrue assessment of the clinical data.

Scientists in the UK are finally warning of the dangers of mixing cannabis with tobacco

The dangers of mixing cannabis and tobacco

The UK needs to catch up with rest of the world on cannabis laws to make it safer for consumers.

• Researchers say that the UK needs to take steps to reduce harm from cannabis use
• Cannabis combined with tobacco, mainly used by Europeans, poses the most serious health risks

Following a new study, scientists are now calling for the UK Government to take a serious look at how they can make cannabis even safer than it already is.

These people in the UK are ditching their pharmaceutical medications for cannabis

ISMOKE Special Report

Yesterday we reported on the newest study into the relationship between cannabis and pharmaceutical medication, after researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria found that patients suffering from chronic pain and mental health issues were ditching their traditional opioid-based medications in favour of cannabis.

But why are so many people making the transition from legal prescriptions to a currently illegal alternative and ditching pharmaceutical medications for cannabis?