With the guaranteed high that it gives, marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs out there. Many people use marijuana precisely to get this euphoric feeling – the unmistakable high. Some users, to get to an even higher high, combine it with alcohol.
Drinking alcohol and smoking weed at the same time may seem like a good idea at first. Users are after the unique high that this combination gives, even coming up with terms like ‘cross fading’ and ‘twisted’. However, research suggests that you have to think twice.
A new study shows that any amount of alcohol that’s combined with marijuana can significantly increase the levels of THC in your bloodstream. This study by the American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC) highlights that compared to just using cannabis by itself, the simultaneous use of the two increases “cannabis’s main psychoactive constituent, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as well as THC’s primary active metabolite, 11-hydroxy-THC (11-OH-THC)”.
The effects of alcohol are well-known, and so are the effects of marijuana. But there hasn’t been much study on the effect of those two combined, even if it’s something that’s commonly done by a lot of people. This study does exactly that, and this is why the results are important.
While there’s much room for further studies and the sample size of this one is relatively small, this study gives a jump-off point for some more research in the future.
A Greater Threat
The act of combining marijuana and alcohol isn’t too surprising. If you’re in a party or a gathering where either of the two is consumed, there’s a good chance that the other is not too far behind. It will be there, and it will be tempting to consume it as well.
The study shows that without the aid of alcohol THC concentrations are from 32.7 and 42.2 µg/L THC, for low and high doses respectively. When you put alcohol in the mix however, the concentrations jump to 35.3 and 67.5 µg/L THC.
Lead researcher Marilyn A. Huestis, PhD, from the National Institute of Drug Abuse in Baltimore, Maryland, says “The significantly higher blood THC and 11-OH-THC [median maximum concentration] values with alcohol possibly explain increased performance impairment observed from cannabis-alcohol combinations.”
Huestis also talks about the fact that the results of their study will actually help “facilitate forensic interpretation and inform the debate on drugged driving legislation.” This is because with alcohol and marijuana combined, users definitely become a greater threat on the road because their performance is impaired.
When you look at motor vehicle crashes, 25% of these accidents are caused by drunk drivers. Many also test positive for marijuana. Another study says that the “Marijuana smokers tend to compensate effectively while driving by utilizing a variety of behavioral strategies. Combining marijuana with alcohol eliminates the ability to use such strategies effectively, however, and results in impairment even at doses which would be insignificant were they of either drug alone.”
Alcohol and marijuana are both commonly used and available, but this doesn’t mean you should overdo it. If you’re driving, you should even be more careful.