Cannabis and Alcohol Use: What You Need to Know

Cannabis and Alcohol Use: What You Need to Know

Lighting a joint to destress is becoming as common as pouring a glass of wine or cracking open an ice-cold beer. Some even combine cannabis and alcohol for an intensely heady experience. But what is the impact of combining cannabis and alcohol? And is it safe to do so?

The Impact of Cannabis and Alcohol on Your Body

In general, mixing any type of drugs, including cannabis and alcohol, is not great for your health, as the combined effects can be unpredictable. The intoxicating effects of both drugs can intensify each other, leading to increased drowsiness, confusion, and incoordination. This can put you at much greater risk for accidents or dangerous situations.

They’re Depressants

Both cannabis and alcohol are officially classified as depressants, meaning they can slow down the activity of your central nervous system. This can lead to slower reaction times and poor memory. Even worse, mixing depressants can combine their effects on the brain.

They Aren’t Addictive in the Same Way

Though both cannabis and alcohol can be habit-forming when abused, the way in which they become addictive is different. Alcohol addiction causes physical cravings while cannabis is linked to psychological dependence. Your brain becomes addicted to cannabis, not your body.

Order Matters

If you’re determined to mix cannabis and alcohol, order matters. The high will be more pronounced if you drink before you smoke or ingest cannabis. That’s because alcohol increases tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) absorption.

If you switch it up and get high first, the opposite occurs. You won’t feel as drunk because the THC will slow the rise of your blood alcohol level.

Type May Be Important Too

According to some researchers, the type of alcohol and cannabis you consume matters too. Study participants who combined beer and leaf felt less hungover than those who consumed liquor and edibles.

Know Your Limits

As with any drug, knowing your limits is key to staying safe. Alcohol and cannabis impact can be dangerously disorienting when consumed together in high doses.

 It’s best to start slowly and monitor your reactions before you work up to larger amounts, especially if you use concentrates or edibles. You don’t want to blast through two cannabis brownies and a cocktail just to realize that you’re way too messed up and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Everybody’s Different

Your friend might tell you that she loves mixing cannabis and alcohol, and the combo impact always makes her feel good and energized. Another friend might explain that cannabis and alcohol zap her energy and give her a pounding headache.

Neither of these stories should sway your decision about what’s right for you. Everybody responds differently to drugs. So, be mindful that what works for someone else may not work for you.

What’s the Law?

Cannabis is legal in more than half the US, but don’t expect to see cannabis-infused alcohol on dispensary shelves anytime soon. Currently, every state prohibits combining alcohol and cannabis in one product. It’s also not allowed for venues to sell both cannabis and alcohol. Each substance has its own licensing systems in legal states, and a venue can’t hold cannabis and alcohol licenses at the same time.

You might have seen cannabis beer at the store, but it’s a bit deceptive. The beer is non-alcoholic, so the only buzz comes from the infused cannabis. Dispensary tinctures do not use alcohol either, opting for oils and glycerine as a base instead.


At the end of the day, there isn’t enough research to support very many conclusions about mixing cannabis and alcohol. However, it’s clear that combining the two can be risky for your health and safety. Unless you’re in an environment where you feel safe and can observe your reaction, it’s best to keep them separate.


  1. Physical vs Psychological
  2. People who Use Alcohol and Cannabis Together May Reduce Risks by Choosing Certain Products and Combinations

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