Less Risky Than Believed: Alcohol and Cannabis Combinations

December 4, 2020
Leah Kuntz

According to a recent study, certain product combinations of alcohol and cannabis may be less likely to cause negative consequences.

In the first study1 of its kind, researchers discovered that young adults who combine alcohol and cannabis products experience fewer negative consequences when they avoid cannabis concentrate and consume a single kind of drink rather than multiple types of drinks.

The study examined day‐level influences of alcohol and cannabis combinations on consumption and consequences among young adults who used both. Responses from 274 college students aged 18 to 24 years who used both alcohol and cannabis were gathered using a smartphone application. About 5 short surveys per day over 54 days gathered data on types of alcohol consumed, types of cannabis, number of drinks or cannabis uses, and unwanted outcomes. Negative consequences were constituted as the following: hangover, nausea, vomiting, injury, driving under the influence, blackout, aggression, or unwanted sex.

The study honed in on 4 use categories in particular: dry cannabis leaf and beer; 2 cannabis products with 2 or more alcohol types; liquor with 2 cannabis products; and cannabis concentrate with 2 or more alcohol products. Using the statistical analysis from the gathered survey responses, researchers examined the associations and consequences of each of these combinations.

The most prevalent combination was leaf and beer, and the potentially most risky combination was 2 cannabis products with 2 or more alcohol types. Consumption of multiple alcohol products was likely to produce negative consequences though liquor was statistically riskier than wine or beer. Overall participants who combined alcohol and cannabis reported 1 or more these negative consequences on 1 in 3 study days. Those who used dry leaf and beer were unlikely to have negative consequences when compared with other combinations.

These findings suggest that shrewd choice of products may reduce potential risks.2

References

1. Stevens AK, Aston ER, Gunn RL, et al. Does the Combination Matter? Examining the Influence of Alcohol and Cannabis Product Combinations on Simultaneous Use and Consequences in Daily Life. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. Published online November 26, 2020.

2. Research Society on Alcoholism. People who use alcohol and cannabis together may reduce risks by choosing certain products and combinations. News release. November 23, 2020. https://www.newswise.com/articles/people-who-use-alcohol-and-cannabis-together-may-reduce-risks-by-choosing-certain-products-and-combinations?sc=mwhr&xy=5013482