Ask an MD: Can I Take Edibles and Alcohol Together?

Is combining edibles and alcohol safe?
By Halla Mannering Updated June 11th

Fact-checked by Alexandra Arnett, MS

Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Kessler, MD

There are multiple different cannabis consumption methods available. Among the many different methods available, edibles are one of the most popular options. Edibles can easily be found at dispensaries, and they can also make getting an accurate dosage easier. 

Combining cannabis and alcohol is not uncommon. While this combination is something that many people use, that doesn’t mean it’s always safe. 

When deciding to mix a substance with cannabis, it’s better to refrain and speak with a professional before doing so. As the common saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Health and wellness are things that should be taken seriously. While cannabis is generally considered to be safe when appropriate doses are taken, it's not possible to make claims about safety when cannabis is mixed with other substances.

It’s important to mention that everyone has a different health and wellness situation. If you have questions about your individual health, consider reaching out to a medical professional who can provide you with specific, individualized advice. The information presented is not meant to replace medical advice but to simply share the current research.

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What Are the Common Effects of Mixing Weed and Alcohol?

In order to answer the questions in this article, we turned to Dr. Brian Kessler, NuggMD's Chief Medical Officer and Medical Director of Spine and Sports Medicine in Manhattan.

Cross faded” is the term that’s often used when someone is under the influence of both cannabis and alcohol. When someone uses alcohol and cannabis together, they are more likely to use higher amounts of both than if they had used only one of those substances.1

Combining alcohol and cannabis should be taken seriously, as it can have a variety of negative effects. Research has found that this combination can lead to higher rates of psychiatric concerns, as well as increased symptoms.

Using both cannabis and alcohol at the same time may warrant a second thought. This is especially true if the person in question is going to be driving. This combination makes people more likely to be deemed impaired. It is never a good idea to drink and drive or use cannabis and drive. 

Taking medications and combining alcohol and weed could lead to a variety of dangerous symptoms. Speak with your doctor to determine whether or not this combination is safe to use with your personal medication routine.

Overall, “Crossfading can be dangerous for some if care is not taken when consuming both THC and alcohol,” says Dr. Kessler. If using this combination, do so with caution and understand the possible effects. Ask questions and read research in order to learn more about combining cannabis with alcohol. When in doubt, refrain from this combination to avoid experiencing unwanted or unpleasant effects.

How Does the Body Process Alcohol?

How the body processes alcohol and weed

Alcohol is metabolized by several pathways in the body. The body has certain enzymes that it uses to break down alcohol. This process of breaking down the alcohol allows the body to rid itself of the alcohol molecules.

The liver is the organ that’s primarily responsible for processing alcohol. This is the primary reason why people who drink heavily may experience liver damage. Keep this in mind when consuming alcohol since moderation is key.

Is Weed Bad For Your Liver?

Edibles are metabolized by your liver. Dr. Kessler notes, “So far, the research we have does not indicate that THC causes damage to the liver in the same way that alcohol does, nor does it negatively impact individuals with preexisting liver conditions.”

Whether or not weed impacts your liver most likely depends on the method of consumption that you use. It is possible that edibles may impact your liver more than smoking cannabis could.2 Similar to alcohol, the body has certain enzymes that are responsible for breaking down THC.

An inhaled option may be a better choice if there are worries about the effects of weed on the liver. With that being said, there’s not a serious cause for concern. In fact, current evidence doesn't link edible use to liver damage.

What Are the Risks of Using Edibles and Alcohol at the Same Time?

Risks of using edibles and alcohol

Because both alcohol and edibles are processed through the liver, some people wonder if there are increased risks associated with using this combination. 

“Using cannabis edibles and alcohol at the same time can lead to increased effects like dizziness and disorientation,” says Dr. Kessler. Dealing with these symptoms can be alarming and difficult to cope with, something consumers should consider when using this combination.

Research has found that when people use weed and alcohol at the same time, then higher levels of cannabinoids are found in blood samples. This is important to note, as many people don’t consider how this combination could impact their body’s metabolism and ability to remove these substances from your body.

The same research found that alcohol has the ability to prolong the effects of cannabis. While this may be something that some people desire, it can be dangerous. It’s always best to be safe and avoid risky combinations - including avoiding driving and using heavy machinery when combining cannabis and alcohol. 

Are the Effects of Edibles and Alcohol Different From Smoking and Alcohol?

The consumption method of cannabis could impact the effects that you feel. Dr. Kessler explains, “Because edibles take up to two hours to process through the body and take effect, combining them with alcohol can lead to more intense effects once you begin to feel the edibles if you don’t watch your dose.”

Many people make one mistake when they use cannabis: taking a higher additional dose because their original dose didn’t provide the effects they were looking for. Why is this harmful? Because edibles may take up to two hours to take effect, the original dose and second dose could begin their effects simultaneously and become overwhelming. If this is a concern, remain cautious and take lower doses. If the desired effects aren’t present, consider stopping all use and waiting to try again another day instead of taking a higher dose.

A person’s tolerance is another important factor. The level of tolerance that an individual has to both alcohol and cannabis can significantly impact the effects that they experience. Regular use of these substances may lead to experiencing fewer effects than a new user would.3 Regardless, this combination should be taken seriously, no matter your experience.

How to Help Someone Who is Cross Faded?

How to help someone who is cross faded

If you’re currently with someone who’s taken both weed and alcohol and they’re having a bad experience, there are a few different options to turn the situation around.

Firstly, assess the situation. Consider asking your friend what symptoms they're experiencing and ask them how you can help ease them. Consider recommending some methods to sober up from weed. Drinking water, eating a healthy snack, and getting some exercise can all be great ways to help the body cycle out the cannabis.

The effects of edibles can typically last six to eight hours, but this could be extended if alcohol is also added to the situation.4 This is important to remember, as you can remain calm if your friend is still experiencing symptoms a few hours later.

When it comes to helping someone who’s cross-faded and having a bad experience, remain cautious and calm. If you have serious concerns about your friend's safety, you shouldn’t hesitate to seek medical advice.

Overall, it's a great idea to monitor your friend’s symptoms and encourage them to make healthy choices (such as drinking water and eating).

Is There a Safe Way to Combine Edibles and Alcohol?

Some people use weed and alcohol, but Dr. Kessler recommends, “If you choose to combine edibles and alcohol, it is recommended to start with low doses and stay hydrated.”

To avoid adverse effects, one of the most important things to consider is the dose. A higher dose of both these substances increases the likelihood of having adverse effects. When in doubt, remain cautious and use a lower dose.

If you’re new to using edibles, it's best to avoid combining them with alcohol. Using edibles and alcohol could lead to more noticeable effects, including some unpleasant ones.

Another option if deciding to combine edibles and alcohol is to be around people who have used this combination before. These friends can guide you through the experience and understand the experience, especially if there are adverse effects and symptoms. 

What About Beverages That Combine THC and Alcohol?

Marijuana drink with alcohol

“Products combining THC and alcohol are not legal, making these products a risk for users as they are not regulated and tested for safety,” notes Dr. Kessler. These unregulated products can contain unknown doses of THC, increasing the risk of consuming too strong a dose. Staying away from these products is a good idea, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the source from which you’re purchasing them.

If deciding to combine edibles and alcohol, then it’s important to make sure that you keep the substances at a low dose and pace yourself. Remember that THC can take up to two hours to take effect, so it’s important to stay on the right track and not to overwhelm yourself.

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  1. Yurasek AM, Aston ER, Metrik J. Co-use of Alcohol and Cannabis: A Review. Curr Addict Rep. 2017;4(2):184-193. doi:10.1007/s40429-017-0149-8 ↩︎
  2. Lucas CJ, Galettis P, Schneider J. The pharmacokinetics and the pharmacodynamics of cannabinoids. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2018 Nov;84(11):2477-2482. doi: 10.1111/bcp.13710. Epub 2018 Aug 7. PMID: 30001569; PMCID: PMC6177698. ↩︎
  3. Ramaekers JG, Theunissen EL, de Brouwer M, Toennes SW, Moeller MR, Kauert G. Tolerance and cross-tolerance to neurocognitive effects of THC and alcohol in heavy cannabis users. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2011;214(2):391-401. doi:10.1007/s00213-010-2042-1 ↩︎
  4. MacCallum CA, Russo EB. Practical considerations in medical cannabis administration and dosing. European Journal of Internal Medicine. 2018;49(49):12-19. doi: ↩︎

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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