With the legalization of recreational marijuana use, it makes sense that the interest surrounding the drug increases, especially in academia. The University of Cincinnati is jumping into that very fold.

According to UC Health News, the school was awarded the National Institute on Drug Abuse Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23) and will receive $726,000 over five years to study the development of digital health intervention for African American young adult blunt smokers.

LaTrice Montgomery will serve as the lead researcher on the project. It'll be the first study to assess and develop specific blunt use intervention as there is little data available in regards to pairing tobacco and marijuana. 

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"Compared to traditional marijuana joints, blunts have been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases due to high levels of carbon monoxide exposure,” Montgomery noted.

Along with intervention tactics, Montgomery will highly focus on the target marketing of little cigar and cigarillos, cultural perceptions of blunt usage and social media's role. 

“Given that social media is already fully integrated into the lives of many young adults, my research will focus on the development and evaluation of a private online Twitter group to support African-American young adults who are interested in reducing heavy blunt use,” said Montgomery. "It is important to develop innovative and cost-effective interventions for young adults who might be reluctant to enter or remain engaged in traditional substance abuse treatments.”

The project will consist of interviews with young adults to assess cultural norms and blunt use patterns as well as gauging social media engagement. Montgomery will also engage Twitter users in group discussions to promote less blunt smoking among African American young adults. "A Twitter-based intervention may provide an accessible and effective way to reduce blunt smoking and thereby decrease morbidity and mortality rates associated with marijuana and tobacco co-use," said Montgomery. 

Montgomery's goal is to tackle the core issues behind blunt usage among African Americans instead of simply focusing on the numbers. "Although research consistently indicates higher rates of blunt use among African-American young adults, very few studies assess the root causes, risk and protective factors, and prevention and treatment interventions that might be effective for this population,” she said.