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Should you Mix Cannabis and Alcohol?

Updated: Mar 16, 2022

As a recreational cannabis consumer, it’s quite likely that you’ve mixed a little bit of booze with your cannabis somewhere along the line. But how safe is it to actually do so?

By Cannabis News ZA - 11/06/2020

Alcohol and cannabis are the two most commonly consumed recreational substances. Although alcohol is legal just about everywhere, there are some serious harms associated with it. While cannabis is also extremely popular, it is still criminalised in many parts of the world and has been for the last century. So it should be of no surprise that mixing cannabis and alcohol is a popular recreational activity. 

We have seen more research conducted in relation to cannabis in the last decade as it becomes more socially acceptable. This research does indicate that cannabis has its own health risks, but is much less harmful to health and society than alcohol has been. With that said, both enjoy their popularity across different parts of the globe. In many of these places, you may even find the two being consumed together for recreational purposes. 

Some find this combination to be quite enjoyable, but most of us are aware of the negatives when mixing the two such as ‘the Greenies’. Other than this there are a number of indicators that lead us to believe that this combination may be more harmful than when they are consumed separately. However, research into this relationship and potential effects is limited due to cannabis prohibition. 

Do We Have Any Evidence? 

With legal and regulated cannabis spreading across countries, we are seeing a rise in cannabis focused research again. This will hopefully include the relationship between marijuana and alcohol. But, what does science say so far? 

These two substances have a somewhat similar effect on the body, but they affect different internal pathways and systems. They can both cause impairment, sedation, slow reflexes and coordination. Some studies have observed that when taken together, these effects can be enhanced – further increasing the risk of consumption. 

Extended Effects 

When any other drug is consumed alongside alcohol, the added drug remains in the system for longer. This happens because of the way in which our livers metabolise substances. Our livers give priority alcohol, processing it first and leaving other substances for longer before they get metabolised. 

This means that the effects from the other substances you’ve consumed will take longer to take action and longer to metabolise, letting the effects last longer. 

Overdose Potential Increases

Any combining of substances is seen to increase the probability of overdosing on one of the substances. In the case of a cannabis overdose, it’s considered fairly mild with symptoms such as nausea, sickness and heart palpitations. These are manageable when we consider the lethality of certain substances when too much is taken. 

However, a cannabis overdose results in an increased chance of alcohol poisoning or serious alcohol overdose. 

Further Judgement Impairment 

Both of these substances can seriously affect judgement and perception. When mixing cannabis and alcohol, these effects are exacerbated. Thus consumers are likely to act more irrational and impulsively, act dangerously and more so with poor judgement. 

Disruption of Elimination 

In a medical application, cannabis is used as an antiemetic. This means that cannabis is used to help prevent vomiting, which is also why it is largely accepted in assisting chemotherapy and HIV patients. However, this may be considered a negative as the cannabis prevents the body from getting rid of excess alcohol. 

Other possible effects of this combination may be dehydration, long term effects which are currently being researched, and potential psychological effects. 

Before mixing substances, you may want to take factors such as those mentioned above into consideration.  Maybe it’s best if you pick your favourite of the two and stick with it!

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