Let’s say you took a low dose of cannabis before going over to a friend’s house, and someone breaks out a bottle of wine. Is it safe to combine alcohol with cannabis? The short answer is no. We’ll explain some of the science behind why this can be a dangerous combination.
Properties of Cannabis
Some people intentionally take cannabis with alcohol to achieve an intense high and blissful state of mind, referred to as a “crossfade.” Since alcohol and cannabis both have depressant properties, meaning it slows your nervous system, combining the two should theoretically give you a perfect state of calm. It’s not quite that simple, though.
Depending on the strain, the dose, and the person, cannabis can affect people very differently. It can have depressant properties, but it can also act as a stimulant. It can increase focus, better your mood, and in higher doses, even cause anxiety. Because the effects of cannabis itself can vary, mixing it with alcohol can lead to a range of results.
Absorbing Both Substances
Combining alcohol and cannabis can have majorly different effects depending on the order in which you consume them. If you drink alcohol first, the blood vessels in your digestive tract become more responsive, so you’ll absorb even more THC if you consume cannabis afterward. This means increased THC levels, and often an intense high with side effects like nausea, paranoia, feeling overwhelmed, and dizziness.
If you take cannabis first, it can actually affect your GI tract in a way that causes your blood alcohol level to rise less when drinking alcohol. This is presumably the safer route, however, being under the influence of alcohol, especially with cannabis in the mix, can lower inhibitions and lead to dangerous consumption levels. Cannabis actually makes it more difficult for a person to vomit, so if you drink too much alcohol and you’re unable to vomit to rid your body of some of the toxins, your risk of alcohol poisoning increases.
What about CBD?
Taking CBD with alcohol is a different story, since CBD has only depressant, not stimulant, properties. There isn’t as much research on combining these two, but findings lead to mixed conclusions. Some older studies suggest that taking CBD with alcohol can significantly lower blood alcohol levels. However, since both substances are depressants, combining the two can cause strange effects, like motor performance impairment, alter one’s perception of time, and mood and behavioral changes.
From what we know, we encourage you to avoid having cannabis and alcohol in your system at the same time. To be fair, most of the research and stories out there are from consuming high amounts of cannabis and alcohol together, as opposed to consuming a microdose of cannabis with a drink or two. Still, everything points to a bad result when you combine the two.
If you’re out with friends, but still want to have a drink in your hand and let loose a bit, cannabis tinctures are a great option. You can bring it with you, drop it in a virgin drink, and fit in with the group. This way, however, you’re in control of dosage, and you avoid the side effects that often come after a night of drinking, like impaired sleep and fatigue. Learn more about cannabis as a substitute to alcohol in our recent video.