Effects of mixing cannabis and alcohol

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“Everything in moderation” takes on new meaning when consuming alcohol and cannabis

While mixing alcohol and cannabis may not be the ideal combination, it doesn’t have to be deadly. As with anything, moderation is the key and there are a number of circumstances when someone may feel the need to combine the two – a social function where the individual would otherwise become anxious or the desire to enhance the creative juices in conversation. When mixing the two, though, it’s important to understand what happens to the body and mind.

While cannabis and alcohol cause different effects, combining the two can enhance each other’s characteristics. For example, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration that enters the bloodstream can be increased by alcohol consumption, since alcohol thins the blood. Additionally, some studies have shown that ethanol in alcohol can enhance the body’s ability to absorb THC, increasing the compound’s effects.

According to Harvard professor and cannabis researcher Scott Lukas, “or many drug combinations, when subjects consumed ethanol, they detected marijuana effects more quickly, reported more episodes of euphoria, and had higher plasma THC levels than when they consumed placebo ethanol.”

Alcohol can depress the central nervous system and THC has been shown to increase melatonin production in the body. Melatonin is the neurotransmitter that makes someone feel tired and sleepy. Combining marijuana with alcohol could result in stronger feelings of lethargy and sluggish behavior, with lessened motor control.

Whereas alcohol can cause THC to be more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, cannabis might actually slow down alcohol absorption. It slows down digestion, which means the alcohol isn’t released into the bloodstream as quickly. Perhaps, for a night out on the town, the best option is to consume a little cannabis before heading out.