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Smoking Style Linked to Risk of Marijuana Dependency

A new study shows that it's not the amount of THC, but how much or how fast pot is smoked that determines one's reliance on weed.

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By Victoria Kim

04/04/14

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A report published in the journal Addiction found that it is not the potency of marijuana, but rather how a user smokes it that determines an individual's dependency.

Researchers at the Trimbos Institute of the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction found that only smoking behaviors, like how much of a joint is smoked or the pace of smoking, predicted dependence on marijuana at the study's three-year mark regardless of how much THC they consumed on a regular basis.

The study analyzed data on 98 young adults who are involved in an ongoing, long-term study of frequent pot users in The Netherlands. Each study participant was a regular pot smoker and reported smoking marijuana at least three days a week for more than a year. The researchers observed details of participants' pot-smoking behavior, asking them to bring their own marijuana and roll their own joints to make the experience as realistic as possible.

The researchers observed that smokers of more potent marijuana rolled more pot in each joint than the other participants who smoked less potent marijuana. In addition, the more potent marijuana smokers inhaled less smoke and smoked at a slower pace than the other smokers in the study.

“Users seem to partly adjust, or ‘titrate’ their THC intake, but not sufficiently so to fully compensate for the THC-strength,” said Peggy van der Pol, a doctoral candidate at Trimbos and lead author of the study. “On average, users seem not to fully compensate for cannabis strength by inhaling less smoke. Yet, as the smoking behavior may be an unconscious process, users are likely unaware whether or not they (partly) compensate their intake.”

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