OPED MARIJUANA-COMMENTARY LA

Marijuana plant

Marijuana is now the subject of a research study at the University of Cincinnati.

This week, the school announced a federal grant for over $700,000 to study blunt-smoking habits among young African-American adults.

LaTrice Montgomery, the principal investigator for the study, and UC were awarded the National Institute on Drug Abuse Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award for $726,000 over the course of five years to focus on the development and evaluation of digital health intervention for African-American young adult blunt smokers.

Numerous Twitter-based intervention steps and strategies will be tested and analyzed by the research team as part of the study.

Montgomery, who is also an assistant professor in the addiction sciences division of UC’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, plans to use a private Twitter group to provide support for heavy marijuana smokers who wish to reduce their usage.

“Twitter is easily accessible,” third-year graphic design student Haley Marshall said of the proposed approach. “The idea of a small cohort in a private group could do great things for participants that are serious about their health and reducing blunt use.”

Current studies suggest higher rates of marijuana use among young African-American men and women, but there is little collected data on the combined use of tobacco and marijuana.

Blunts, however, are prepared by filling a hollowed-out cigar with marijuana. Cigar wraps are comprised of tobacco leaves, meaning blunt smokers inhale both nicotine from the tobacco wrap and THC — the psychoactive component in marijuana.

Montgomery’s research will utilize a series of interviews with participants to understand the patterns and sociocultural surroundings of blunt smoking.

She will then develop a randomized clinical trial using a private Twitter account to gauge the effectiveness of Twitter intervention via the @BluntTruth101 Twitter handle.

It is Montgomery’s hope that the Twitter-based intervention will provide an accessible and effective way to reduce the use of marijuana blunt smoking, thus mitigating the health risks that arise when combining tobacco and marijuana. When used together, the mixture of these substances constitutes higher health risks that smoking weed alone.

“I think it being on Twitter will make it tough for people to take it seriously,” third-year liberal arts student Caroline Currie said. “[But] I am glad a professor is trying to research more on the adverse health effects of tobacco and marijuana and try to get on the level of the common person through social media.”

Essentially, adding tobacco into the mixture puts substance users in danger of long-term health issues.

Although marijuana could cause cognitive and developmental issues, adding tobacco presents many other concerns. The use of tobacco is tied to higher occurrences of cancer and heart disease. Tobacco use is also the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S., according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study also anticipates using the grant to analyze marketing tactics of cigar and cigarillo companies. Additionally, it aims to evaluate the perception of marijuana blunt use in popular culture, such as on social media and in other modern outlets.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States with 22.2 million users, according to CDC estimates.