Cannabis and Alcohol: How They Mix

effects smoking cannabis drinking alcohol

Imagine, you’ve just returned home on a Friday evening after a long week of work. All you want to do is just chill out and clear your head of the stresses you encountered. Sometimes you grab for a nice cold beer, but today you opt to smoke some cannabis that you picked up at a nearby dispensary in Vancouver.

You take a long, deep inhale and near immediately feel a wave of calm come over you. You slink a little deeper into the couch and turn on your favorite go-to show on Netflix. It’s early so you opted for a hybrid strain because, hey, maybe someone will call with plans. In the meantime, it’s just you laughing to the lines you’ve laughed at a million times before and emptying your head of those flood of work worries you couldn’t let go just moments before.

Twenty minutes pass when your friends start texting you. They’re meeting up at the local bar and you want you to join, especially because it’s within walking distance. It’s early so you decide to take them up on their offer.

You arrive at the bar, still high, and down a few craft brews. A few hours later you’re feeling pretty good and decide to take a leisurely walk home. You arrive a few minutes later, flop back down on the couch and take another drag of your bong, as there was still a little cannabis left over.

This is a scene that plays out all over the country on any given night. Both cannabis and alcohol were legally and safely consumed and the desired effect was achieved.

But, what was the actual effect on the body? Did smoking cannabis and drinking alcohol, often referred to as “cross fading” when consumed together, have a different effect than just one or the other?

Let’s explore this more.

In the example provided, the person safely consumed cannabis and alcohol. This is usually the case. But, after researchers found that they are the two most common drug combinations detected in car accidents, they decided to dig into the impact on the body.

This research, first featured in Clinical Chemistry, the journal of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, officially confirmed that when a person simultaneously consumes alcohol and cannabis their blood contains a higher concentration of cannabis’ main psychoactive property, tetrahydrocannabinol, better known to you as THC.

Their research confirms that if you are smoking cannabis with THC, you will feel more “high” if you are also drinking alcohol, maximizing the effect of the cannabis comparatively to consuming cannabis alone.

So, how did they figure this out?

Scientists asked 32 adult cannabis smokers to drink either placebo or low-dose alcohol 10 minutes before inhaling 500 mg placebo, low-dose THC, or high-dose TCV vaporized cannabis. Their blood and plasma were then collected and measured.

Of the 19 participants who completed the study, each had “significantly” higher blood THC values with alcohol use.

What else do we know?

We know that each person reacts differently, regardless of what the studies show thus far, as confirmed by Scott Lukas, a psychiatry and pharmacology professor at Harvard Medical School who’s performed multiple cross fading experiments.

“Not everyone responds to alcohol and marijuana the same,” Lukas told Vice News, but added that THC levels now commonly found in cannabis exceed the amount used in his studies.

What are other possible side effects?

When you use alcohol and marijuana at the same time the likelihood of you greening out goes up considerable. This refers to someone feeling ill after smoking marijuana.

When a person is greening out they might feel sweaty and nauseated while looking pale and complaining of feeling dizzy with the spins. He or she may even vomit. This often follows the desire to lie down for a nap.

Greening out is not a common side effect of cannabis, but drinking alcohol beforehand does increase the chances. However, when someone smokes before drinking, this effect is unlikely to occur.

Just like the phrase, liquor before beer, you’re in the clear; it turns out the same holds true for cannabis.

While greening out isn’t life threatening, alcohol poisoning, on the other hand, is.

It is known that cannabis has an antiemetic effect, meaning it makes it more difficult for the body to vomit and stunts nausea. While this is an excellent effect for those who are prescribed harsh cancer medications, it is not a side effect you want to experience if you accidentally overdo it on the alcohol while smoking. In this case, the side effect could be dangerous as vomiting is the body’s way of emitting harmful substances from the body – expelling excess alcohol.

With that said, even Lukas agrees the risks are low.

“If you’re sitting alone in your bedroom,” he said, “and you’ve got pillows all around you, and you’re well hydrated, and the bed’s not too far off the ground, the risk is low.”

What We Don’t Know

Unfortunately, while a lot is know about the effects of alcohol on the body, as well as the effects of cannabis on the body, not much is known about the combined effect they can have on your system.

According to a study from Northeastern University, some partakers interviewed had the time of their lives. Others, on the flip side, felt immensely ill, vomited, and then passed out.

Ultimately, when these two substances are used together the likelihood of something going wrong increases. So, if you decide to experiment, do so vigilantly and around people you trust in a safe environment.

And, when you’re ready to snag some more cannabis for your next high, come visit our dispensary in Vancouver, Mary Jane’s House of Grass. We’ve got the hookup for all your cannabis needs.