Weed & Alcohol: Is It Safe to Drink & Smoke?

The use of recreational marijuana is increasingly popular and it is becoming more common to attend social gatherings and find marijuana and alcoholic beverages that are meant to liven up the party, but how safe is it to mix both substances on a night out?

 Not all bodies react equally to these substances when consumed individually, less when consumed together. Before deciding to consume both substances at the same time, it is necessary to know their possible reactions in the body and what to do in case of bad effects.

 The objective of this article is to publicize the possible effects on the body after consuming alcoholic beverages with marijuana.

What Effects Does Cannabis Produce On The Body?

When consuming marijuana by either smoking or vaping, the effects are almost immediate. This happens because of the effects of THC and other chemicals contained in marijuana. These chemicals make their entry through the lungs, quickly make their way through the bloodstream, and finally, make their way to the brain. Upon reaching the brain, THC can bind to molecules called “cannabinoid receptors” in the neurons of the brain regions that control memory, thought, pleasure, concentration, movement, coordination, perception of time and space.

Other Alterations Caused By THC:

  • The creation of new memories is altered and the capacity of attention is lost. (Hippocampus and Orbitofrontal Cortex)
  • The regions of the brain that regulate balance, posture, coordination and reaction time are altered and the person starts having trouble controlling the mentioned actions. (Cerebellum and Basal Ganglia)
  • The neurological system that creates the feeling of “rewards” releases greater amounts of Dopamine, which produces the effect of euphoria, more commonly known as the “high” effect.
  • For those who consume food-induced marijuana, the effects may include varying response times, and a different duration of the effects. Each body has a different way to absorb, react and eliminate these chemicals.

What Effects Does Alcohol Produce On The Body? 

Alcohol will also have different effects on each person who uses it. The effects are also linked to the amount ingested, the percentage of alcohol contained in the beverage, and the response time of the body to process the alcohol.

 Most popular alcoholic beverages and their percentage of alcohol:

  • Glass of beer (340 ml / 12oz) = 5% of alcohol
  • Glass of cider (140 ml / 5o z) = 6% of alcohol
  • Glass of fortified wine (85 ml / 3 oz) = 20% of alcohol
  • Glass of spirits (45 ml / 1.5 oz) = 40% of alcohol

The effects of alcohol on the nervous system are measured as Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). When levels of BAC are low, the effects tend to be not harmful at all and disappear in the short term, if BAC reaches a very high level on the body, it could cause long-term damages, or even death.

 At the lowest levels, with a BAC between 0.033% – 0.12%, the effects are: loss of coordination and judgment; good humor; reduction of anxiety; blushing on the face. At the highest levels, with a BAC between 0.35% – .80% the effects are more severe and the person may end up in a coma or suffer from life- threatening respiratory depression, vomiting, passing out, decrease in heart rate, and even death. (Galbicsek, C., Effects of Alcohol, 2020)

 So… is it a good idea to mix marijuana with alcoholic beverages?

Until a few years ago, recreational and/or medicinal cannabis was illegal in many countries and little effort was made to investigate its effects by the scientific community. Now that its legalization has popularized its individual use and mixed with other drugs, the scientific community has begun to carry out more research about the effects of marijuana mixed with other drugs. However, the information available on the effects of the use of cannabis and ethanol remains pretty limited.

What is known so far regarding the consequences of consuming both substances is:

Alcohol is the substance that your liver prioritizes to be metabolized first; this means that, for the entire time your body takes to metabolize the ethanol, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana (THC) will    remain in your body until your liver can metabolize it. This will potentiate and make the effects of THC and alcohol last longer in your body. Hallucinations, dizziness, sweating, acceleration of the heart, paranoia, among other effects, will intensify.

 Marijuana is known to be antiemetic, which prevents symptoms of nausea or vomiting. This cannabis side effect, combined with an amount of alcohol that your body needs to expel through vomiting, could lead to severe alcohol poisoning if your body is unable to flush alcohol out of your body, and that could have fatal consequences.

Remember… before consuming these substances (together or separately) it is important that you know your body’s reactions to each substance, be careful with the amounts and times of consumption, and do not listen to other people’s recommendations. Remember that for some people, some substances can represent no harm, but can be harmful to you.

 If you feel sick or are having some uncomfortable symptoms, stop the consumption of both substances and consult a specialized doctor. To see if cannabis is right for you, get a prescription by clicking here.

 

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