Party On: How Cannabis and Alcohol Mix

Many of us will admit to combining weed and alcohol occasionally. In moderation it’s a fun night out with your BFFs. In excess, it’s nausea followed by a walk of shame. 

Obviously, moderation is a good thing. But your experience may also depend on which substance you start with: drinking or consuming cannabis.

Party On: How Cannabis and Alcohol Mix

Alcohol Before Cannabis

Drinking and then smoking or ingesting cannabis can intensify the effects of weed. A little of both will be fine, but proceed with caution. Binge drinking all night and then nipping out for a  smoke can lead to unpleasant symptoms, including sweating, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

That’s because studies have shown alcohol increases the absorption of marijuana’s main psychoactive ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This causes the levels of THC in your plasma to skyrocket, intensifying your high. 

Cannabis Before Alcohol

What about smoking or ingesting cannabis before alcohol? Although research is still scarce, weed may slow down the effects of alcohol. 

Scott Lukas, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, has studied how alcohol affects the absorption of THC (noted above), and vice-versa: how cannabis affects the absorption of alcohol.

Smoking cannabis, he found, activates your body's cannabinoid 2 receptors (CB2), which can affect how quickly your body absorbs alcohol.

"Marijuana does a unique thing to your small intestine,” Lukas told Vice. It alters the way things move through your GI tract “ such a way that it causes your blood alcohol levels to actually be lower than…if you had just consumed alcohol by itself." 

So you may feel less drunk if you start with a spliff before opening the Shiraz. 

Party Tips

Party On: How Cannabis and Alcohol Mix

Party on dudes! Here are some ways to avoid learning by (bad) experience:

  • Remember to hydrate. Weed is notorious for causing cottonmouth. Alcohol is a diuretic, which can lead to dehydration. Drinking water helps manage these effects.

  • Wait out the edibles. Consuming cannabis versus eating increases the time it takes to feel high, but can also increase the intensity. So it’s wise to not ramp up your drinking until the edibles kick in.

  • Never mix, never worry. Well technically you are mixing substances, but this aphorism certainly applies to alcohol. Mixing hard liquor with fancy cocktails, beer and/or wine can result in nausea and a bad hangover. 
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