Cannabis-infused beers are now a thing, thanks to the legalization of marijuana in different countries. However, with THC comes the question of the safety of mixing cannabis and alcohol. Regulatory authorities have so far not given the green flag for mixing the two substances, and thus companies are restricted. While CBD can be mixed with alcohol, THC, a psychoactive compound, cannot.
THC and alcohol: A disastrous combination?
Crossfading is a popular trend among young adults where alcohol and marijuana are used simultaneously to overlap their effects and experience a high and a buzz simultaneously. However, this is problematic due to the subsequent impact on behavior, addictions, and mental health disorders.
Safety concerns about mixing alcohol with cannabis over the long term
Alcohol and cannabis both have their own sets of effects as they act on different receptors in the body. A combination of the two, or crossfading, can enhance their effects and lead to problems. Some of these are listed below:
You can overdose on THC or alcohol, and out of the two, alcohol-related overdose is more serious. While it isn’t likely that you will overdose on THC alone, the more cannabis you take in, the more alcohol you would want to consume. When alcohol and cannabis are used together, the chances of the two substances being used in higher quantities and more frequently increase drastically.
With higher use comes increased risks of negative consequences such as getting involved in crimes, addiction, dropping out of high school, depression, impulsive behavior, and higher risks for injuries. Also, excessive alcohol use can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can, in turn, lead to death in the worst case.
We all know that alcohol causes dehydration. But, if we combine THC and alcohol, the dehydration effect can be enhanced, leading to more fluid loss. While rare, repeated and habitual marijuana use can also result in Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome or CHS, which results in excessive vomiting.
3. Issues eliminating the substances
Cannabis is antiemetic as it prevents nausea and vomiting. While this can be beneficial for patients undergoing chemotherapy or who have HIV, the effect is disastrous when combined with alcohol. If a person cannot eliminate excess alcohol from their system through vomiting, then it can build up and lead to overdose or even poisoning.
4. Impaired thinking
Both THC and alcohol can increase impulsiveness, cause serious hazards like accidents, and result in impaired thinking. Combining the two can magnify the problem and lead to blackouts as well as cognitive and memory problems. A study was conducted by the US Department of Transportation in which they found that a combination of cannabis and alcohol resulted in more car crashes than if alcohol and marijuana were used alone, as co-users are at a higher risk of driving under the influence. But this was closely followed by alcohol-related car accidents.
5. Side effects and long-term health effects
Mixing the two can lead to increased chances of drug-related side effects like hallucinations and anxiety. Long-term use of these can lead to mental health issues like depression. There are also chances of developing problems like kidney disease, cancer, cardiovascular problems, immune system issues, and gastrointestinal problems.
6. The effect of co-use on brain development in adolescents
The use of marijuana alone can have an impact on normal brain development in young adults and adolescents. This leads to problems in memory, judgment, reaction time, coordination, and learning. And its excessive use has been linked to paranoia, emotional problems, and even hallucinations. Now imagine mixing marijuana with alcohol which can lead to psychiatric problems and substance use disorders.
7. Substance use disorders
Co-users are more likely to have alcohol and cannabis use disorders. Dependence on either substance causes a subsequent dependence on the other and can lead to addictions. Once addicted, it can be difficult to get back to everyday life, and outside help such as rehabilitation centers and support from friends and family become necessary to overcome the addiction.
8. Increased drug absorption and effect
If taken with alcohol, THC remains in the body longer and is higher in concentration than if taken without alcohol. This is because the liver first metabolizes alcohol and then comes to other drugs and substances. Also, alcohol causes THC to be more easily absorbed by the blood leading to higher blood concentrations. The longer-lasting effects of THC result in impaired performance and confusion.
With so many potential problems, there is a reason why regulatory bodies like the FDA are cautious about allowing alcohol and cannabis to be mixed together and why it may take several years before the mix can even be considered.
Will the trend lead to a legalized infusion of THC with alcohol?
So far, we don’t know, though currently, it isn’t possible. Regulatory bodies like the FDA and TTB are strict about THC-infused alcoholic products due to health concerns. But as with all trends, changes come as our thinking evolves and for now, we can see that the legalization of marijuana is gaining support as more and more states move towards decriminalizing the drug.
With this step, companies are constantly innovating and coming up with ideas to cater to the new market that accepts the idea of cannabis-infused beer wholeheartedly. Once the momentum gets going and countries see an increase in demand, the laws will be more relaxed, and prohibitions will become a thing of the past.
But, as with all substance use, it is important to keep in mind the harmful effects of combining alcohol and THC and discourage friends, family, and acquaintances from overdoing it. While the idea of drinking a THC-infused alcoholic beer at a party sounds fun and exciting, with you imagining having brilliant mind-altering conversations about aliens in a far-off galaxy and how they might think of invading Earth, having a little too many can impact your health. Plus, remember that it will not be a good idea to drive after drinking this beer, even if you’ve had just one.
I am a passionate beer connoisseur with a deep appreciation for the art and science of brewing. With years of experience tasting and evaluating various beers, I love to share my opinions and insights with others and I am always eager to engage in lively discussions about my favorite beverage.