The relationship between THC and alcohol has long been a discussion point among cannabis users. Have a quick look online and you’ll see a host debating the issue. Some say it’s perfectly alright to combine THC and alcohol while others state you categorically shouldn’t.
The answer is a lot less clear cut than advocates on either side of the debate make out. Research is not particularly great in this area and neither choice is fully backed up by the current evidence. Here we take a closer look at the relationship between THC and alcohol and try to reach a conclusion as to whether it is safe or not.
As with everything in this world, our main piece of advice is that you should take everything in moderation. If that’s your abiding mantra, you shouldn’t have too many problems.
The Science of THC and Alcohol
It’s surprising that the research in this area is quite small considering that THC and alcohol are the most frequently detected combination of drugs in vehicle accidents. There is some evidence that adding alcohol to cannabis can produce higher levels of THC in the bloodstream. This is fine if you are kicking back at home and not planning to drive, but if you are going to get behind the wheel, even after a small amount of cannabis with a beer, you may be putting yourself and other people at risk.
This effect could happen because the liver looks to metabolize alcohol first and that means the THC may well stay much longer in your system. You might have a situation where you have drunk a lot of hard alcohol and your body is unable to handle THC for a long while so it doesn’t kick in until much later.
While no one has ever died of a cannabis overdose, the same cannot be said of alcohol. If you are too drunk and too high, the chances are you may not have control of your intake which means things can quickly reach a tipping point putting your health at risk. Both THC and alcohol reduce your ability to think rationally, we all know that.
Too much THC can lead to anxiety and feelings of paranoia which can be exacerbated by alcohol when both are taken at the same time or within a short period of each other. If you are combining the two on a regular basis, you are also putting yourself at risk of health conditions such as kidney and liver failure as well as heart disease.
While all this sounds a little negative when it comes to THC and alcohol, you need to take into account factors such as the strength of the drink, how much you are taking as well as the strength of cannabis and how much of that you have had.
Cannabis Tinctures Use Alcohol
An extraction method using alcohol is used for a wide variety of cannabis products including some edibles and all tinctures. Soaking your cannabis in alcohol is seen as a way of extracting terpenes and THC at home and is used in a variety of different products that you no find on sale at stores around the US.
It’s how you combine cannabis with alcohol here that makes the big difference. There’s no suggestion that the products made in this way are dangerous. Tinctures are taken in very small amounts; the liquid is placed sublingually (under the tongue) using a dropper.
One question that is always asked in respect of THC and alcohol is whether different types of booze have different effects. In fact, it’s something that cannabis connoisseurs are quite happy to experiment with and there are plenty of articles about it to be found online.
THC and Beer
The drink most often consumed with cannabis is beer. People go to a party but will have a few drinks at the local bar first or some cans or bottles from a liquor store. Hops and cannabis are actually pretty similar plants and, especially in Europe, we are actually beginning to see new products such as cannabis-infused beer coming onto the market.
Connoisseurs will tell you that THC goes well with an alcoholic drink like beer but a lot depends on the strain you use. Many suggest sticking to hybrids or Sativas rather than smoking a couch-locking Indica strain while supping a few bottles. If you want to have a beer but don’t want to worry about the effect it’s going to have on your cannabis smoking, you might want to opt for low alcohol varieties.
As we said before, enjoyment of THC and alcohol comes down to moderation. The two can possibly enhance each other in small doses but don’t drink too many beers or smoke too many joints. You may regret it the next morning.
THC and Wine
There’s a whole community of connoisseurs who like to pair wines with different types of cannabis. In a perverse way, this makes a lot of sense. For a start, both have different varieties and vintages that aficionados love to talk about and try. Both wine and cannabis are just as much about taste and you can understand why they are sometimes taken together.
You might like to try a lemon or citrus cannabis with a sparkling white or Prosecco, for example. Maybe you want something earthy to smoke or vape with a nice Bordeaux. If you tend to suffer from dry mouth when taking cannabis, having a nice glass of wine handy isn’t a bad idea though water will do just as well.
THC and Hard Alcohol
More problematic is taking high THC strains with strong alcoholic drinks such as scotch, vodka and bourbon. The reason for this is obvious as you’re putting more of each drug into your system. There is however a community or two around the US who are fond of infusing cannabis into all sorts of potent alcoholic drinks. The Marijuana Margarita seems to be a particular favorite at the moment.
Our advice if you are a novice and not used to the effects of THC and alcohol is not to head straight for the whiskey bottle and a strong cannabis strain unless you want to put yourself out of the game in next to no time.
THC and Alcohol: What to Watch Out For
Many people take cannabis and alcohol without experiencing any adverse effect or putting themselves in harms way. It does, however, pay to think about the science and make sensible choices. Both cannabis and alcohol do have an effect on your brain, lowering inhibitions.
Crossfading, where you combine THC and alcohol, means that the THC really can have a much stronger effect so you could find yourself reacting adversely to a strain you have often taken, simply because you’ve had a few beers or a glass of wine. Get it wrong and you might end up with physical effects such as nausea and vomiting.
Some people see this as a way to get a bigger high, of course. It’s not always the case that this is a good idea and if you tip over the edge it can lead to side effects such as anxiety and paranoia. If you take cannabis strains that contain THC for therapeutic reasons, of course, you may well prefer edibles. Having a glass of wine is going to change the way your body reacts, even a few hours after ingesting.
Some people report the cannabis staving off the effects of the alcohol for a while but then it suddenly hits you with little warning. You might feel suddenly drunk and nauseous and stuck with a strong high that you weren’t expecting.
As with anything to do with cannabis, combining THC and alcohol requires you to use a little common sense. Even if you are an experienced cannabis user and have had booze with it on occasion, there’s no point in overdoing things. Not least is the problem that it can severely lower your inhibitions and mean you end up doing something you wouldn’t normally, and perhaps something dangerous.
Among cannabis users, the phrase greening out is used – something which happens when you get an adverse reaction to the cannabis you are taking. It means you start feeling sick and dizzy with the room spinning around you. If this happens, the only thing you can do is sit and let the feeling pass. In truth, THC and alcohol have always been used together and probably always will be. If you are trying it for the first time, however, we suggest moderate consumption until you understand how your body is going to react. Each of us is different and our response to cannabis and drink will vary.