Cannabis and Alcohol

I came across an article on cannabis and alcohol a short time after a colleague suggested a I do a piece on the topic.  It is titled “Drunk and High”.  I can’t remember who the author is, but the headline got my attention as idea of being drunk and high at the same time made my “danger zone” bells go off.  So, I thought, yeah, I will write about it.

Knowledge is power.

While researching the subject, I found out that I’ve been living in a cave, unfamiliar with the current terminology.

"Cross fading" is one of terms new to me.  It is the purposeful mixing two or more drugs for the combined effect.

Cross fading audio
Now I trained in audio engineering and cross fading means something entirely different.

All this time I had no idea what people were talking about. So woefully out of touch.

And then there’s "greening out".  This I can relate to although I didn’t know there’s a nice name for it now.  It’s what happens when the ugly side effects of mixing alcohol and marijuana hit you.  Pale, sweaty, dizzy, spinning, nausea, vomiting, the overwhelming need to get horizontal.

Jimmy Buffet
I call it a "Gravity Storm" (compliments of Jimmy Buffett).

Cross fading can be really dangerous because of the antiemetic properties of marijuana, which means you might not vomit the excess alcohol you may have inadvertently ingested.

This can lead to alcohol poisoning.  With alcohol, from intoxication to death is 5 times more drunk, that’s it.  Not a big window of screw up room.  Trouble is, there is no way to predict the outcome.

"Blacking out" in this condition is common.  We put ourselves in a highly dangerous situation when we are unable to care for our personal safety because of unconsciousness.  Highly dangerous.  If this has happened to you, stop what you’re doing, reassess your life and get help to find out why you would allow yourself to get so intoxicated that you would put your life in jeopardy.  Again, trouble is, there is no way to predict the outcome.

Studies have shown

Scott Lukas

Scott Lukas, a professor at Harvard Medical School, performed a study in 2001 and found a possible explanation for the amplified intoxication.

It was noted that people who smoke marijuana and drank a couple of shots of alcohol “they detected marijuana effects more quickly, reported more episodes of euphoria and had higher plasma THC levels than when they consumed placebo ethanol.”  (1)

The report went on to say, when subjects consumed ethanol “these data suggest that ethanol may increase the absorption of THC resulting in an increase in the positive subjective mood effects of smoked marijuana and contributing to the popularity of this drug combination”.

Marilyn A. Huestis, Ph.D.

Dr. Marilyn A. Huestis from the National Institute on Drug Abuse also found in her study of 19 participants that samples showed significantly higher blood concentrations of THC when alcohol and cannabis were used together.  (2)

Cross Faded Results

The reasons the body reacts to the combination of cannabis and alcohol this way are not clearly understood but almost everyone who has smoked marijuana and had a couple knows what it feels like.  

Seasoned partyers will tell you "grass before beer, you’re in the clear, beer before grass you’ll be kicking your ass."
(I added that last part).

It's an interesting phenomena: It seems if you already have THC in your system before you add alcohol, the effect is not drastic.  But consume marijuana after your intoxicated and that’s when the trouble starts.

Knowledge is power.  Have a safe summer everyone!!

(1)   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11543984

(2)  https://www.aacc.org/media/press-release-archive/2015/alcohol-combined-with-cannabis-significantly-increases-levels-of-thc-in-the-blood