When marijuana and addiction experts learned that Snoop Dogg had decided to “quit smoking” — a statement that most people assumed referred to smoking weed — they were excited. His decision, they believed, could inspire people struggling with cannabis use disorder and give chronic smokers the celebrity endorsement to feel comfortable to start changing their behaviors.
Because if Snoop could do it, “the Michael Jordan of zaza,” as some say, they could too.
But instead, the rapper has since revealed that the ad was a humorous marketing ploy to promote a smoke-free fireplace brand: a move that experts say perhaps unintentionally sheds light on the challenges associated with smoking. stopping marijuana. Experts also say this advertising tactic would have received the same lukewarm reception if it involved another substance, like alcohol. Snoop’s Instagram post has since been deleted.
“Snoop has no obligation or responsibility to society to quit smoking, publicly or privately. But using…quitting as a marketing ploy, especially for personal gain, can seem disrespectful to the struggle that so many people are addicted to THC,” said Aaron Weiner, an addiction psychologist. “It would be fantastic if someone of that stature could really promote science and health. »
Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a bipartisan organization made up of health experts, lawmakers and others opposed to the legalization and commercialization of marijuana, said the “hoax” was disappointing. “I have received dozens of comments and thoughts from young people in recovery (from cannabis use disorder) or considering recovery who were inspired by his words.”
Snoop Dogg has never claimed to be addicted to marijuana, but Weiner said Snoop “appearing to trivialize the serious nature of addiction could ultimately harm other people who are actively struggling and view the message as confirmation that cannabis addiction is not a significant problem.” Before learning of Snoop’s ruse, Weiner thought it was brave of the rapper to publicly call attention to his decision to quit, given the lack of public conversation and awareness of the risks to life. health from THC, the psychoactive ingredient responsible for weed’s high.
“I hope the fact that this is just a PR stunt doesn’t hurt anyone because his initial statement would have helped,” Weiner said.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, frequent cannabis use can lead to marijuana use disorder, which occurs when people develop a dependence on the drug and experience withdrawal symptoms such as haze. irritability, difficulty sleeping and food cravings when they stop using it. Data suggests that 3 out of 10 people who use marijuana suffer from this disorder.
Research on marijuana’s overall health impact is conflicting, meaning some research finds associations (not causation) between use of the drug and cardiovascular disease or respiratory infections, for example. , while others do not. Still, researchers suspect that the consequences experienced today may be worse than in recent decades due to the increase in marijuana’s potency. The average THC content of marijuana samples confiscated in the early 1990s was less than 4%; today it can exceed 15%.
Experts recognize the medicinal properties of marijuana. Last year, President Joe Biden signed into law the bipartisan Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act, which eases access to marijuana-derived chemicals like THC and cannabidiol (CBD). for research.
The FDA has approved several THC drugs, including nabilone (sold under the name Cesamet) and dronabinol (sold under the brand name Marinol) in pill form to treat nausea in patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy and loss weight in AIDS patients. Several other marijuana-based medications are in clinical trials.
Dr. Bonni Goldstein, medical director of Canna-Centers, a California practice that educates patients about the use of cannabis for serious and chronic medical conditions, said that some of the negative health effects of cannabis, such as bronchitis cough type, resolves when users stop smoking.
Dr. Ryan Sultan, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and director of Integrative Psych, where he specializes in the treatment of substance use disorders, said that neither the characterization of cannabis as a “target mainstay of the war on drugs” nor as “a benign panacea”” are accurate.
Learn more about smoking cannabis:Toxic air pollutants from smoking cannabis with a bong are 4 times worse than cigarettes, study finds
What is clear, however, is that marijuana use is increasing, as is the perception of the drug as low risk. A National Institute of Health study released last year found that cannabis use among adults ages 19 to 30 had reached the highest levels recorded since 1988, when researchers began monitoring these trends. A 2022 Pew Research poll conducted in October found that 59% of American adults believe marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use by adults; 10% believe that marijuana use should not be legal.
As marijuana legalization expands across the United States, including Ohio, Arizona, Delaware, Missouri, and Maryland, the drug becomes more accessible, which can make it more difficult to quit. tobacco for people with cannabis use disorders, Weiner said. “Unlike alcohol, we don’t have any FDA-approved medications to help,” he added. But help is available through accredited treatment programs, therapists and support groups.
Among the many comments describing Snoop’s plan as a great advertisement, some people mentioned that they too were considering quitting marijuana and were excited to see his potential move to edibles, which generally pose fewer risks to respiratory health than smoking, but may introduce greater risks of THC poisoning.
“Snoop’s words carry weight”
Snoop’s announcement appears to have inspired rapper Meek Mill to quit smoking as well. “Snoop launches the tobacco-free challenge we followed! It’s not healthy for me», wrote Mill on X yesterday. “…my doctor told me I had a bit of emphysema in my chest, if I don’t stop smoking it cuts my lifeline in two, I was addicted to nicotine and that new weed has too many chemicals and too risky to play with my mind! ” Mill wrote in a separate article.
Several celebrities, including Queen Latifah, Jhené Aiko and Maya Rudolph, also showed their support in the comments of his campaign. “You got this, Uncle!!” Aiko wrote. Venezuelan singer and rapper Micro TDH added: “No smoking is the new smoking.”
Wilfred Ngwa, an associate professor of radiation oncology at Johns Hopkins who conducts research on medical cannabis for cancer treatment and pain management, initially thought Snoop’s announcement to “quit smoking” was “huge news, especially for someone who has often celebrated and promoted cannabis.” culture in his music, his interviews and his social networks. Ngwa believed it would be “a major moment to educate the public about the potential gems and dangers of smoking cannabis.”
However, Snoop’s revelation that he was joking is “very disappointing…but not surprising,” Ngwa said. “Some may indeed see it as a clever and creative way to promote your business and products, and to show your sense of humor and personality. As a health researcher working in the field of medical cannabis, I think this will seem irresponsible, selfish and dishonest to many. This could send the wrong message to the public, including young people, who might view him as a role model.
It is estimated that people who use marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than those who start as adults.
Research published this year in the journal JAMA Open Network also found that about 1 in 40 adolescents in the United States (more than 600,000) met criteria for cannabis dependence, and that adolescents who used cannabis for purposes recreational users were two to four times more likely to develop psychiatric disorders. disorders, such as depression and suicidal tendencies, compared to those who do not use the drug at all. Overall, several studies have shown that marijuana use among adolescents can lead to problems with learning, memory, problem solving, attention and coordination, according to the CDC.
Martine Helou-Allen, executive director of RIZE Prevention, a nonprofit organization that provides programs to combat drug use and addiction among adolescents and their families, said she frequently engages with middle and high school students who refer to celebrities’ smoking habits to excuse their own.
“Teenagers have a celebrity outlook on life, which means they base a lot of their decision-making on what celebrities consider acceptable and beneficial,” Helou-Allen said. “The fact that Snoop came back and said he was joking further reinforces the opinions of young people who believe that smoking marijuana is harmless and that it is ridiculous to say that there is something wrong.
“Celebrities need to understand that there is a population of teenagers following their every move and listening to every word they say,” Helou-Allen. “Snoop’s words carry weight.”