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Smoking pot may lead to nicotine addiction: Study

People who smoke marijuana are at a higher risk of developing nicotine addiction if they try cigarettes, according to a new study.

In the study, researchers first exposed mice to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the active ingredient in marijuana) or a placebo for three days.

Reuters

Reuters

Then, they attempted to train the mice to self-administer nicotine, which was delivered into their blood when they poked their noses through a hole in the cage.

Mice don't always learn how to do this. Presumably, those who successfully learn how to get their own nicotine are more motivated to get a fix in other words, they are more "addicted."

Among the mice exposed to THC, 94 per cent learned how to self-administer nicotine, compared with 65 per cent of mice who'd been exposed to the placebo, MyHealthNewsDaily reported.

In addition, THC-exposed mice were willing to work harder to get nicotine performing up to 17 "nose-pokes" for a dose of nicotine, compared to 11 nose-pokes in the placebo group.

It's more common for people to smoke cigarettes before trying marijuana (and in this case, cigarettes are considered a "gateway" drug).

But in a substantial number of cases, people use cannabis before progressing to cigarettes, said the researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse in the US.

The new findings suggest "a history of cannabis exposure might have lasting effects that increase the risk of becoming addicted to nicotine," the researchers wrote in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

However, because the study was conducted in mice, it's not clear whether the findings translate to people. In addition, there are likely other factors that could contribute to the progression from marijuana to other drugs, including a genetic susceptibility to addiction, and social factors.

PTI