Moke: What It Is and Why It’s Unhealthy for Teens
Understanding Moke and Its Effects on the Body and Brain
Have you noticed the word “moke” being used lately, in the media and among young people? If so, you might have wondered, what is a moke?
Moke is a term for a mix of marijuana and tobacco, typically smoked with a bong, or water pipe. Mixing weed with tobacco is more common in Europe, Australia, and other parts of the world. According to some estimates, 90 percent of cannabis smokers in Europe mix marijuana with tobacco.
Furthermore, this mix is gaining popularity among American teenagers. In the United States, a marijuana and tobacco cigarette is known as a spliff.
It’s important to understand the health risks of smoking tobacco and weed together. Moreover, this tobacco and weed mix can have a detrimental impact on teen mental health .
What Happens When You Mix Marijuana and Tobacco
While both tobacco and weed have specific effects, mixing the two also has other effects on the body and mind.
A 2009 study showed that mixing cannabis and tobacco actually increases the THC content of the combined drugs. Thus, a moke produces a stronger high. In addition, both nicotine and THC produce a sensation of euphoria.
Moreover, smoking marijuana and tobacco, mixed, have resulted in what health officials call “respiratory cripples.” In 2016, doctors in St. Lucia reported an epidemic of young patients suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) as a result of this combination of drugs.
COPD is a debilitating, progressive disease that directly affects the lungs and cannot be reversed. Patients with the disease are confined to a bed with oxygen tanks to aid in breathing.
Moke Leads to an Increased Risk of Addiction
Smoking mokes may create a greater risk of teen substance use disorder . A 2008 study conducted with users between ages 17 and 35 showed that using tobacco with marijuana contributes to cannabis dependence symptoms.
Furthermore, a 2016 study confirmed these results. Researchers analyzed responses from 33,687 cannabis users from 18 countries who participated in the 2014 Global Drug Survey, an anonymous online survey of drug use.
Subsequently, they found that people who did not mix cannabis with tobacco were much more motivated to quit and thus more likely to seek professional help for cannabis and nicotine addiction. Therefore, researches concluded that people who regularly mix tobacco with cannabis are at greater risk of psychological dependence than people who use the drugs separately.
“Mixing tobacco with cannabis lowers the motivation to quit using these drugs,” said lead author Chandni Hindocha, a doctoral student at the Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit of University College London.
Tobacco, Marijuana, and the Brain
Both nicotine and marijuana interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Furthermore, the ECS has receptors in the brain and body that help regulate basic metabolic functions, including pain, pleasure, mood, digestion, and motor control.
A large number of these receptors are found in the hippocampus and amygdala, the parts of the brain that play important roles in remembering, decision making, emotional responses, and addiction. Therefore, drugs that alter the functioning of these receptors can negatively affect functioning in these areas.
In a study done at the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas, scientists uncovered significant differences in the brains of people who use both tobacco and marijuana, as compared to the brains of those who only use marijuana. Researchers studied the size of the hippocampus as it related to memory function.
They found that the combination of nicotine and marijuana had a unique effect on the brain, as compared to the brains of people who did not smoke or who smoked only one of the two substances.
According to the principal investigator in the study, Dr. Francesca Filby, “Our findings confirm that the interaction between marijuana and nicotine is indeed much more complicated due to the different mechanisms at play. Future studies need to address these compounding effects of substances.”
Effects of Marijuana vs. Tobacco
According to the World Health Organization, tobacco and cannabis are used respectively by 1 billion and 182 million people worldwide.
It is difficult to directly compare marijuana and tobacco in terms of the long-term changes they make in the body and brain. However, both substances are dangerous and unhealthy.
Consequently, the marijuana-tobacco mix known as a moke carries two sets of unhealthy effects.
The Mental Health Risks of Tobacco
Most Americans are very familiar with the physical health risks of smoking nicotine, including lung cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, resulting in more than 480,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, smoking tobacco is also associated with substance abuse and depression . This is particularly true for teens.
What Parents Need to Know About Moke
Specifically, statistics compiled by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that teens who smoke cigarettes are five times more likely to drink. They are also 13 times more likely to abuse marijuana, and seven times more likely to abuse drugs like cocaine and heroin. Thus, alcohol abuse and addiction is nine times higher among teens who smoke tobacco than among their peers who do not smoke.
These findings are supported by a report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. The report, titled “Tobacco: The Smoking Gun,” showed that the changes created by nicotine make a teen’s brain more susceptible to the effects of drugs and alcohol.
The brain’s receptors for nicotine increase when smoking, making it more likely for nicotine addiction to develop and making it harder for teens to stop smoking once they start. Moreover, the brain receptors are also altered, which increases the chances of cravings for other drugs. Additionally, the serotonin receptors change, which increases the chance of depression when not smoking.
Furthermore, the report revealed that smokers ages 12 to 17 are twice as likely as non-smokers to experience symptoms of clinical depression.
Marijuana’s Effects on Teen Mental Health
Like tobacco, marijuana use leads to both physical and mental symptoms. Not only is marijuana addictive, it is extremely harmful to users, especially when they are in the critical developmental stages of adolescence. Teenagers’ use of drugs such as marijuana creates chemical changes in the brain, resulting in disruption of mental and physical growth and health.
Regular marijuana use can lead to the following short- and long-term effects:
- Changes in mood
- Impaired memory
- Cognitive difficulties (thinking and problem-solving)
- Respiratory problems (coughing, lung infections, etc.)
- Faster heart rate
- Hallucinations and paranoia
- Depression and anxiety
- Suicidal thoughts in teens
- Decreased IQ: One study showed that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and continued to use it lost an average of eight IQ points between the ages of 13 and 38.
In conclusion, not only do marijuana and nicotine each have individual consequences for teen mental health, the combination of both has additional effects. It’s important not to underestimate the negative impact of these addictive and life-threatening drugs. Therefore, parents need to help their teens find safe, healthy ways to navigate challenges and feel empowered.
Inhal Toxicol. 2009 Feb;21(2):87-90.
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2008 Jun 1; 95(3): 199–208.
Behavioural Brain Research. 2015 October 15; Vol. 293: 46–53.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Oct 2;109(40):E2657-64.
National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse
Have you noticed the word “moke” being used lately, in the media and among young people? Moke is a term for a mix of marijuana and tobacco, that can be dangerous for teens.
How to pack and smoke a bowl of cannabis
There are many ways to smoke cannabis, but perhaps none are as well-known as smoking a bowl in a pipe. Learning how to pack and smoke a bowl is an essential lesson in cannabis consumption that enthusiasts at both ends of the spectrum can benefit from.
Whether you’re interested in packing a pipe for a personal smoking session or preparing a bowl for a party, understanding these fundamental principles will help optimize your bowl-smoking experience.
Choosing the right cannabis pipe
Cannabis contraptions come in all shapes and sizes, but smoking pipes are arguably the most popular. Adapted from traditional pipes used for tobacco, the cannabis pipe shares all of the same key characteristics.
Pipes consist of a bowl, a round basin deep enough to pack herb in, as well as an airtight channel that delivers smoke and air through a mouthpiece. In many cases, pipes also contain a second air channel known as a carb that is used to regulate the airflow through the pipe. As long as a pipe contains the first two items at the very least, you can smoke cannabis out of it.
Traditionally, pipes used for tobacco smoking were made out of material such as wood, bamboo, or even ceramics. However, cannabis pipes today are widely made using borosilicate glass, as the medium is incredibly versatile.
While most states still widely market glass pipes as tobacco smoking accessories, they can be found in collectable and gift shops, and also head shops. You can also find them online, at cannabis events, and even in high-end glass art museums.
Pipes can vary widely in shape and size, as well as in complexity, functionality, and availability. Bongs and bubblers utilize water to filter cannabis smoke and cool it prior to inhalation.
A common, basic type of pipe is called a “spoon,” because of its shape. These are the best pipes to begin with if you are new to cannabis, as they are small, easy to use, and are typically inexpensive.
What you need to get started packing a bowl
In order to smoke weed out of a pipe, you’re going to need a few essential items to get started. Other than your bowl or pipe, you will need some form of heating element—the most basic one is a lighter.
Traditional butane lighters work well, though there is a myriad of non-butane heating elements out there to choose from, if you want to avoid a butane flavor in your bowl. The most effective lighters and heaters will allow for optimal heating control when combusting or vaporizing a bowl.
Some consumers prefer to light their bowls with hemp wick, a waxy piece of hemp string that ignites easily, maintains an even burn, and doesn’t give off an undesirable aftertaste.
Another heating element used often is a glass wand that can be heated to a point where it will vaporize your herb on contact, eliminating combustion smoke altogether while still delivering cannabinoids and flavor through a lighter hit.
Another factor to consider is whether or not to use a screen for your pipe. Screens can help keep you from inhaling burning bits of cannabis, but if you don’t have a pack of pipe screens, here are a few nifty tricks to consider:
- Twist a piece of wire or a paperclip it into coil
- Use a screen from a faucet head
We don’t recommend using aluminum foil, a soda can, or a window screen as a makeshift pipe screen, as these are often coated with materials that are hazardous to inhale.
Preparing cannabis for smoking a bowl is essential to maximize airflow through your device and deliver an even smoke. In order to do this, breaking down your herb is a crucial step. Doing this creates a homogenous airflow through the bowl where smoke can pass through evenly.
How to pack and smoke a bowl or pipe: a step-by-step guide
- Get your pipe, some weed, and a grinder if you have one.
- Loosely grind up your weed—make sure it’s evenly broken down but not too finely ground. Hand pulling your herb is the most basic way to do this, but grinders make this process much easier.
- Put the ground or broken up weed in your pipe. Some pro tips to help maximize airflow:
- Use a stem and/or nice-sized intact calyx to stuff at the very bottom of your bowl to prevent pieces from passing though. You can also use a screen if you have one.
- Pack your herb lightly at the bottom and slightly denser at the top for an even smoke. This allows the cannabis toward the top to maintain a burn—or cherry—while opening up airflow for easy inhalation without clogging.
- Put a flame or other heating element to it and enjoy!
Etiquette for smoking a bowl in a group
We all started somewhere, so for everybody first learning how to smoke a pipe, there are a few pieces of etiquette to follow to ensure you have the best possible experience. When engaging in a smoking session with others, make sure you pack a bowl that’s proportional to the size of the number of people in your smoking circle.
For an intimate session, pack a personal bowl or a “snap” when alone or with one other person. This way, you take turns lighting personally packed micro bowls meant to be consumed in one single hit.
For larger groups, heavier packed “party bowls” ensure each smoking buddy gets a fresh hit of green herb. Everyone should get a green hit.
Traditionally, the provider of the cannabis will determine who gets to light the first hit. To make sure everyone gets the same experience, make sure to corner your bowl by only lighting a fraction of the visible cannabis. This lets everyone get the same great flavor without leaving an ashy hit for somebody at the end.
If the bowl is already lit, feel free to pass it, but let your passing buddy know the bowl is cherried.
Lastly, never pocket a lighter. Everyone hates a lighter thief!
With these tips in mind, smoking a bowl should be a walk in the park. Always remember to use proper etiquette when packing a bowl for friends, and make sure you are consuming cannabis in a safe and legal place. Pack a fat one, call some friends, and have at it!
This post was originally published on October 27, 2016. It was most recently updated on April 8, 2020.
There are many ways to consume cannabis, but none are as well-known as smoking a bowl. Learn how to properly pack and smoke a bowl for your next session.