In Clearbrook Treatment Centers Pennsylvania, Family Resources, Marijuana Drug Abuse, Personal Resources

Difference Between Marijuana and Tobacco 

As more states legalize marijuana use, both researchers and state officials are worried about how it’ll affect the prevalence of smoking tobacco in the United States. While there may be a notable difference between marijuana and tobacco, many people make the mistake of considering one safer than the other. Rather than considering marijuana as a “better alternative” to cigarette smoking, both should be viewed by their individual potential harms.

As a drug rehab in Pennsylvania, we know that a lot of people try to compare cannabis and nicotine and consider one safer than the other. We, on the other hand, advise against any form of substance abuse that could spiral out of control and cause any unhealthy long-term problems. 

What Is the Difference Between Marijuana and Tobacco?

Many people in the U.S. have become more comfortable with smoking weed. In fact, as of 2018, more than 11.8 million young adults in the U.S. reported using marijuana at least once in the last year.1 Many people compare marijuana and tobacco, trying to claim one as more dangerous than the other. The adverse health effects of marijuana are slowly becoming more apparent. Comparing the difference between tobacco and weed can shed light on their individual impact on a person’s health. 


Marijuana, also known as cannabis or weed, is a mixture of dried flowers taken from a plant called Cannabis Sativa. It’s a greenish-gray mixture of dried plants that can be smoked, eaten, or brewed in tea. In addition to vaping, dabbing is also another popular method of smoking weed. Dabbing refers to smoking portions of cannabis concentrates called dabs. The dangers behind dabbing can actually be more severe than smoking weed because it uses weed concentrate. The main chemical component in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which produces the high users feel when they smoke or ingest weed. 

The side effects of marijuana use include:

  • Altered senses (increase in sense of sight, taste, or smell)
  • Impaired motor movement
  • Altered sense of time
  • Hallucinations
  • Feeling disconnected from reality
  • Delusions
  • Psychosis (anxiety and panic)
  • Problems with memory

While many people believe weed is harmless, it can actually become addictive. Any substance that you use consistently can become a point of addiction. There are also different versions of cannabis, like synthetic marijuana that can be dangerous and addictive. If you or someone you know has become dependent on weed, our marijuana treatment can help. 


Tobacco is a plant that’s grown for its dried leaves, which are dried out and fermented before being put in any tobacco products.2 Tobacco contains an addictive ingredient called nicotine. Nicotine is known for causing severe harm and dependency in tobacco or cigarette smokers. 

The effects of nicotine include: 

  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Alertness
  • Lung cancer

Nicotine is addictive because it stimulates the reward system in the brain similar to other drugs like cocaine and amphetamines. Nicotine increases dopamine levels in the brain, activating reward and producing feelings of pleasure. 

The main difference between marijuana and tobacco is their main chemical components. While the THC in marijuana can induce psychosis in extreme cases, it is not as addictive as nicotine. Becoming dependent on marijuana is still possible, though, considering that both THC and nicotine affect the brain by activating the release of dopamine. 

Is Marijuana Safer Than Tobacco?

Marijuana is safer than tobacco in the sense that it’s less addictive, but it doesn’t mean it’s entirely safe to use. While tobacco can be considered more addictive than marijuana because it contains nicotine, it doesn’t mean cannabis is entirely safe to use. Marijuana has been linked to severe cough and bronchitis, as well as slower cognition and trouble learning. Both marijuana and tobacco can cause lung damage, especially the latter. Weed is also viewed by many researchers as a gateway drug that can lead smokers to abuse other substances, like tobacco, cocaine, meth, heroin, and more. 

Synthetic marijuana is also a cause for concern. It’s often sold under the disguise of an undetectable label, and its contents are usually unknown to users. Our synthetic marijuana treatment addresses the specific side effects of synthetic marijuana addiction. 

Your safest bet is to avoid smoking weed and tobacco altogether. It can be tempting to experiment with smoking, especially when more states are legalizing weed; however, you’re only increasing your potential risks of developing health problems in the future. 

If you or someone you know needs help recovering from a mental disorder or addiction, call Clearbrook Treatment Centers today at 570-536-9621 for more information about our residential treatment


  1. NIH – What is the scope of marijuana use in the United States?
  2. NIH – Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products DrugFacts

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Legalized Marijuana Causing Higher Rates of Homelessness

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Scheduled to Open In PA

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