Cannabis and alcohol are both extremely popular substances. It stands to reason, then, that it isn’t uncommon for people to mix the two. But is it safe to mix these two substances? How can you expect the two to behave differently when mixed? Does the order they are consumed change the effects? 

Although studies have shown that cannabis consumption leads to a decrease in alcohol usage, there are still people who are going to occasionally mix them. We’ve created this post to answer the question above and more – so you’ll have the knowledge to help you understand what to expect when consuming both of them.

How Do Cannabis and Alcohol Work Individually?

To better understand how cannabis and alcohol work together in the body, let’s first take a quick look at the mechanisms through which they work independently of one another. 

How Cannabis Affects the Body

When cannabis is smoked or vaped, components of the plant called cannabinoids enter the bloodstream via the lungs. For other delivery methods, such as edibles, the cannabinoids will enter the bloodstream through other means. Once in the bloodstream, these compounds make their way to the brain and activate special cannabinoid receptors. The receptors trigger the release of dopamine and endogenous opioids, which trigger a euphoric feeling.

How Alcohol Affects the Body

Alcohol provides relaxing and euphoric effects by triggering the pleasure or reward centers in your brain. It does this by activating the release of dopamine and serotonin. Because alcohol is a depressant, it also slows down activity in the brain. This is what results in the slow reaction times, slurred speech, and loss of motor control that’s common in people who drink too much. 

What Happens When You Mix Cannabis and Alcohol?

As you read about how the two substances interact with the body, the similarity between the two likely stood out. Although the feeling that cannabis and alcohol provide is completely different, they both work in large part by releasing reward-related neurotransmitters in the brain. As you can imagine, this means that each of them will boost the effects of the other. 

In addition to triggering the release of the same chemicals, there appears to be an interaction between the substances themselves. In 2015, scientists found that people who drank a small amount of alcohol before consuming cannabis had higher concentrations of THC in their system than those who didn’t have alcohol. This may help explain why many feel as though the effects of cannabis become significantly stronger when taken with alcohol.

An older study showed the effects of going in the opposite direction, having subjects consume cannabis before drinking alcohol. In this instance, the results seemed to show that absorption of alcohol was slowed by cannabis. However, the results of this study were disputed in a letter to the science journal, Nature.

Because of the varying absorption times of different cannabis delivery methods, consuming it in different ways may alter when, if, and how quickly the cannabis interacts with alcohol.  When combining the two, many people will smoke it or pop a gummy, but you can also drink it with cannabis-infused beverages

What to Watch Out For When Mixing Cannabis and Alcohol

For most people who consume cannabis and alcohol responsibly, there are minimal health risks. In fact, cannabis has several health benefits, many of which have been covered on this blog. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions if you’re the type of person prone to over-indulging. Even if you aren’t typically someone who overdoes it, the first few times you mix cannabis and alcohol, you should go slow and be aware that alcohol intensifies the effects of cannabis.

Higher Risk of Dependence

Alcoholism is a serious problem. As we mentioned in the opening, cannabis often reduces the use of alcohol by serving as a substitute for it. However, if the two are consumed together, that is not the case. A 2017 study found that there is an increase in the chance of dependence when cannabis and alcohol are used together. 

Impaired Driving

Driving while under the influence of cannabis or alcohol is never a good idea, nor is it legal. The fact that the two combine into something stronger only makes it a worse idea. This is especially true if cannabis slows the effect of alcohol until after you’ve gotten behind the wheel.

“Green Out”

Sometimes, when someone consumes too much cannabis, they experience an unpleasant feeling referred to as a ‘green out.’ Dizziness, anxiety, and nausea are some of the symptoms people experience when they green out. Because alcohol increases the effects of THC, you may experience this when combining the two, even if you don’t normally have to worry about it.

If you experience a green out, try to get someplace comfortable and remain calm. Eating something can help, as can drinking some water to help hydrate yourself. If you find it hard to calm down, try some of the tips in this blog post on dealing with a bad high.

woman in pink sweater drinking waterTrust Planet 13 Dispensaries for Your Cannabis Products

Planet 13 Dispensaries is the best OC dispensary. Cannabis comes in a dizzying array of strains and is available in various delivery methods. Our dispensary in Orange County, CA is fully stocked with a large selection to help you find the right product for you. It’s also never been easier to get the products you need. As the best dispensary in Santa Ana, we want to make sure we serve you in whichever way is most convenient for you. That means you can come into our dispensary in Orange, CA, and browse around, order ahead and pick up, or even have your product delivered. 

For a complete look at all the products we offer, check out our menu.

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