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Did You Know Cannabis Can Help You Quit Smoking?

Marijuana was once a societal pariah, plagued with stigma and seen as a dangerous, deadly substance. On the other hand, cigarettes — whose use was once socially acceptable and even expected — are now known as public health enemy No. 1, being the single biggest cause of preventable death in the United States.

Unlike marijuana users, smokers continue to find themselves increasingly isolated, resulting in legal restrictions and inevitable looks of disapproval and disgust. Consequently, increasing numbers of smokers are attempting to quit; unfortunately, many fail due to the addictive nature of nicotine. However, recent evidence suggests that not only is marijuana less addictive than cigarettes, but it can even be used as a smoking cessation aid.

In addition, if you live in a state where medical marijuana is not yet legal, or don’t want to use a THC product of any kind, the CBD from hemp is a great, if not better, alternative and we have written many informative articles about Hemp CBD.

Promising Evidence

A 2013 study by the University College London indicates that individuals who use marijuana at the onset of a cigarette craving are less likely to indulge their addiction. This is due to a non-psychoactive chemical called cannabidiol (CBD) found in some cannabis strains.

During the study, smokers were split into two equal groups; one was provided with CBD inhalers while the other received a placebo. The latter found no change in their smoking habits, but those who used CBD reduced their cigarette intake by as much as 40 percent.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that this is a preliminary study and — while promising — requires further research before experts can say anything truly conclusive.

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Mechanism

Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the euphoric “high” typically associated with marijuana, CBD does not produce this effect. Instead, its impacts are limited to the body, resulting in a physical sense of relaxation without intoxication. This means that individuals can use the drug at any time without worrying about its impact to their cognitive performance.

Many smokers use cigarettes as a way to cope with stress, but this remedy is a matter of false perception. In reality, they are just relieving a sudden craving for nicotine, creating the illusion of calmness. CBD, on the other hand, fulfills the desire to feel relaxed, thereby reducing or eliminating the need for a cigarette.

Another roadblock to quitting occurs when smokers are placed in situations where they typically feel the need to smoke. For instance, their habit may compel them to have a cigarette after a meal, during work breaks or when others around them smoke. In fact, a key recommendation for aspiring quitters is to avoid these triggers whenever possible. For some addicts, this is simply not an option, especially if many of their friends or family are smokers.

One of the above study’s co-authors, Dr. Celia Morgan, explains that “… CBD seems to reduce the salience of cues. It also can reduce anxiety and may affect a memory process called ‘reconsolidation’ …”

In other words, the CBD provides relief by helping users forget the positive reinforcement caused by smoking at certain times, creating a barrier to this destructive reward system. At the same time, it helps prevent the nervousness that makes smokers feel they need cigarettes to handle.

Smoking is a truly unhealthy habit, so it is good news that many smokers are willing to stop. Obviously, the best course of action is to avoid smoking altogether, but not everyone has managed to avoid this addictive trap. Although there are many smoking cessation aids available, marijuana may soon join this category, assuming that more research proves conclusive.

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