Types of Cannabis and Tobacco/Nicotine Co-Use and Associated Outcomes in Young Adulthood

Published in: Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Volume 33, No. 4, pages 401–411 (2019). doi: 10.1037/adb0000464

Posted on RAND.org on February 14, 2020

by Joan S. Tucker, Eric R. Pedersen, Rachana Seelam, Michael Stephen Dunbar, Regina A. Shih, Elizabeth J. D'Amico

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Cannabis and tobacco/nicotine use are highly comorbid. Given expanding access to cannabis through legalization for recreational use, it is important to understand how patterns of cannabis and tobacco/nicotine co-use are associated with young adult outcomes. A predominantly California-based sample of 2,429 young adults (mean age = 20.7) completed an online survey. Based on past-year reports of cannabis and tobacco/nicotine use, we defined 5 mutually exclusive groups: (a) single-product use; (b) concurrent use only (using both products, but only on separate occasions); (c) sequential use only (using both products on the same occasion, one right after the other, but not mixing them together); (d) coadministration only (using both products on the same occasion by mixing them in the same delivery device); and (e) both sequential use and coadministration. We examined group differences in use patterns, dependence, consequences of use, and psychosocial functioning. Fifty percent of respondents reported cannabis use, 43% tobacco/nicotine use, and 37% co-use of both substances. The most prevalent method of co-use involved smoking combustible products. Overall, individuals who co-used both substances on the same occasion in some way reported heavier use and greater problematic behaviors than those who did not. Sequential use (especially among those that also engaged in coadministration) was typically associated with worse physical and mental functioning overall compared to using each substance separately. Findings illuminate both prevalence and risks associated with co-use of cannabis and tobacco/nicotine products and can inform policies for states considering regulation of cannabis and tobacco/nicotine products.

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