Why You Shouldn't Mix Alcohol And Cannabis

Photo: Marco Di Lauro, Getty Images

“Beer before liquor, never been sicker” — by now (and probably from personal experience) we all know this rule to be true. But when it comes to alcohol and weed, where’s our helpful rhyme? With cannabis laws being relaxed in Canberra, it's important to know how to stay safe if you choose to partake in cannabis use.

As Vice writes, every person copes with alcohol and cannabis differently, so while you may be fine mixing both substances, your friend may be tripping balls in the very same room. While the subject of cannabis and alcohol’s combined effect is largely under-researched, there are a few things worth knowing before diving under the influence.

Alcohol may enhance your high

Before you grab a beer and a joint, make sure you know that one will likely boost the effect of the other. According to two separate studies, if you smoke cannabis after drinking, there’s a good reason to believe the alcohol will actually increase how much THC makes it into your bloodstream. This happens because alcohol opens up blood vessels in your digestive system, allowing for more THC absorption — in other words, yes, alcohol can make you feel even higher.

Drink too much before smoking, however, and you may end up feeling nauseated or especially uncomfortable from the combination; this is sometimes referred to as “greening out” or “the spins” (and you do NOT want that).

Edibles might be a bad decision

As the High Times wrote, you might also want to take it easy on the combination of edibles and alcohol, given edibles’ more gradual intoxication. (Unlike vaping or smoking, it might take hours before you feel a thing.) Why is this such a bad thing? Well, you might feel tempted to grab a drink while waiting for the high to kick in, which may turn into another drink and then another, and then you suddenly find yourself on the floor rubbing your face against the carpet.

There a number of other possible side effects

Again, given the paucity of research, many organisations warn of possible side effects but have insufficient evidence, so we end up sounding like your mother: Something bad might happen!

As Psychology Today writes, cannabis has an antiemetic effect, meaning it makes it more difficult for you to vomit. As you may have experienced before, too much alcohol has the exact opposite effect, in which case, the combined effect may prevent you from vomiting or force you to choke on any vomit that’s produced.

There’s also the possibility that combining both will just get you really, really high. Using both at the same time can result in greater impairment than when using either alone. Alcohol.org warns of effects like overall decreased judgment, anxiety and increased dehydration.


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