Christmas is just around the corner and we know that many Kiwis like to indulge in a few drinks with friends and family over the festive season. If you’re taking medical cannabis, whether that be CBD oil or THC, you might not have considered the effects of combining alcohol with cannabis. Don’t worry, that’s where we come in! We’ve done the research for you and gathered the things you need to know before you take a sip. Let’s get into it.
There’s a saying that goes, “Beer before grass, you’re on your a**. Grass before beer, you’re in the clear.” Recreational cannabis users may have heard this famous saying before, but what does the evidence say? How does alcohol interact with CBD and THC taken for medicinal purposes?
Cannabis & alcohol – the lowdown
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of research into the interactions between alcohol and cannabis, and much of what we do have is out-of-date or uses very high amounts of cannabis. This means that we can’t come to any definite conclusions as to the effects yet, but we can get a bit of an idea by taking the research findings with a grain of salt.
Ultimately, you need to be careful taking CBD at the same time as drinking alcohol. Early research suggests that alcohol may intensify the effects of CBD and vice versa. CBD, THC and alcohol can be depressant substances, meaning that parts of your brain are dampened to achieve the effects. Alcohol and cannabis work on different parts of your brain, but you still might experience stronger effects of both alcohol and cannabis if you take them together.
What kind of side effects are we talking about?
When mixing CBD and alcohol, you may experience greater fatigue, less inhibition, and reduced motor and psychomotor control. This may lead to more risk of injury, poor decision making and losing track of time. We can’t be certain as to how strong these effects are, so if you decide to drink alcohol, take it slowly and monitor your side effects before having too many cocktails.
There isn’t enough research to say whether mixing cannabis and alcohol could be dangerous so that leads us to suggest being very careful, as we can’t be sure what the outcome may be or how it could affect your health over time.
What about THC?
As for THC and alcohol, the general consensus within the recreational use circles are that alcohol consumption before cannabis can intensify the high you get which may result in “greening out” – sweating, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and intense fatigue. However, this is when consuming a much higher dose of THC than is used for medicinal purposes. For medicinal purposes, THC is at a low enough dosage that you won’t get the feeling of being “high,” but you will get the potential benefits of it.
Once again, we recommend going very slowly with your alcohol consumption when you’re taking medicinal THC and CBD as we aren’t sure what the side effects will be, or how they will affect your health. From early thought and research, scientists think that THC may slow down the absorption of alcohol in the bloodstream which could mean you might have delayed feelings of drunkenness. If that is the case, you may not realise how drunk you are until it’s too late or when it hits you suddenly. Remember to take your time, pace your drinks, and spread them out with water and food in between.
Everyone reacts a bit differently to medicinal cannabis and alcohol, so at the end of the day if you do decide to indulge in an alcoholic drink, take it slowly. Make sure that if you’re having a few drinks to have a designated driver and always share a ride with a sober driver or get an Uber or taxi so that you’re not tempted to get behind the wheel. It’s important to monitor how you react to the two substances together – note down how it makes you feel so you can be aware for next time and make an educated decision.
If you have any questions or would like to chat through how you can navigate your medicinal cannabis prescription over the festive season, get in touch online, via email or call us on 0800 CBD OIL (0800 223 645). We’re always happy to help!
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Disclaimer – medicinal cannabis and CBD oil are unapproved medicines in NZ which means that there is no conclusive evidence for their effect, apart from Sativex. Many doctors do not routinely prescribe cannabis medicines. The above article was written for general educational purposes and does not intend to suggest that medicinal cannabis can be used to treat any health condition. Please consult with your healthcare provider.