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Int J Drug Policy. 2006 Jun;17(3):171-182.

Social constructions of dependency by blunts smokers: Qualitative reports.

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National Development and Research Institutes, Inc., 71 West 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010, USA.


Concerns about the risk of cannabis dependence have been renewed in recent years by changing patterns of consumption, including increased levels of use, easier access to high-potency strains of cannabis and the rising popularity of blunts (tobacco cigar shells filled with cannabis). Such concerns have been reinforced by a number of studies suggesting that cannabis dependence, as measured by DSM criteria, has indeed increased. However, there are reasons to question these findings. First, the studies may not accurately reflect users' experiences, for a number of methodological and conceptual reasons. Equally important, they do not examine the practice of smoking blunts, which exposes cannabis users to nicotine and has obvious implications for dependence (and other health problems). In this paper we reveal social understandings of dependence by analysing in-depth interviews with 92 users of blunts and cannabis in other forms in New York City. We also discuss ethnographic observations of these users and others that reveal practises and norms relevant to the risk of cannabis dependence. We find that users' experiences and descriptions do not correspond to official dependence criteria and that some use practices, such as smoking blunts in groups, promote moderate consumption rather than compulsive use. Respondents also associated nicotine with dependence, suggesting that research on cannabis dependence should be designed to include blunt smoking.

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