Home / Cannabis 101  / Crossfading: Understanding the Synergistic Effect of Combining Weed with Alcohol

Earlier this year, sales of cannabis surpassed alcohol sales in the State of Colorado. Could it be, that cannabis is metamorphosing the drinking culture and creating a culture of its very own? As the first state to fully legalize the green stuff, Colorado is a prime example of how the budding industry can make an impact.

According to researchers from two U.S. universities and one in South America, alcohol sales sunk 15 percent in states that had enacted medical cannabis laws.  With that in mind, it’s clear that the powerhouse plant is being increasingly accepted as its use becomes more normalized. Although cannabis legalization is encouraging former drinkers to give up the bottle, some consumers may still enjoy a tipple (or two) with a joint.

Some might not even mean to mix the two substances, but once one it is in your system, that’s it. No going back… Commence the dreaded “crossfade” – a reaction produced when a person’s motor skills are hindered by alcohol, while (simultaneously) the cognitive functions and receptors inside the brain respond to cannabis’ psychoactive constituent, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Take a moment to absorb the following facts on “crossfading” before you absorb the alcohol and spark up that reefer.

Alcohol May Increase Absorption of THC into Blood System

A teacher at Harvard Medical School named Scott Lukas is intrigued by the effects caused by mixing weed and alcohol. Lukas and a team of scientists conducted a study on the combined effects of weed and alcohol. They discovered a spike in THC levels among users who smoked cannabis after they drunk alcohol, as opposed to the other way around.

The outcome? Feeling super “stoned” or perhaps even paranoid and nauseous.

“Not everyone responds to alcohol and marijuana the same,” Harvard Medical School marijuana researcher Scott Lukas told Vice magazine recently.

The result? Levels of THC contained in a person’s blood plasma almost doubled after they drunk alcohol, as opposed to those who only smoked. Lukas’ findings suggest that alcohol simplified the absorption of THC into the vascular system.

Why? He didn’t really know why, but he believes that alcohol helped to ‘relax’ blood vessels inside the digestive system and lungs. Lukas’ study demonstrates dose-dependent effects, therefore the more alcohol you drink, the more intense the crossfade will likely be.

“Marijuana does a unique thing to your small intestine that alters the motility [the way things move through your intestines] of your GI tract in such a way that it causes your blood alcohol levels to actually be lower than…if you had just consumed alcohol by itself,”  says the Harvard professor of pharmacology and psychiatry.

With Lukas’ findings in mind, it’s worth remembering the following phrase: “Weed before beer, you’re in the clear. Beer before grass, you’re on your arse.”

Cannabis’ Effect on the Liver is Quite Surprising

While alcohol consumption is often attributed to liver problems, cannabis contributes to quite the opposite. Scientific research tells us that cannabis compounds (A.K.A. “cannabinoids”) and the endocannabinoid system (A.K.A. the “ECS”) play an integral role in treating liver diseases, including fatty liver disease (FLD) and liver scarring (cirrhosis). Furthermore, certain types of cannabinoids may also assist patients with viral liver damage when dealing with chemotherapy and other conventional treatments.

An ever-growing list of evidence spotlights the influence that the ECS has on different cases of liver disease, such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), viral hepatitis, autoimmune hepatitis, hepatic encephalopathy, and alcoholic liver disease. Important post-liver transplant processes, including nutrient intake/turnover, hepatic hemodynamics and ischemia/reperfusion (I/R), can also be controlled by the ECS.

How to Avoid “Greening Out” on the Green Stuff

Don’t take for granted the importance of choosing a good smoking spot. It really is true that your surroundings can impact your experience, so make sure you’re safe, comfortable and in the company of someone you know and love. Pour a glass of water and keep it close-by – you never know when you might get cottonmouth (dry mouth).

Crossfading or “greening out” is generally classified as feeling nauseous, dizzy and sweaty. The person who is experiencing a crossfade may also exhibit a rather pale complexion. In some instances, overdoing it with cannabis may lead to vomiting. Nevertheless, don’t let this put you off. Don’t be greedy and remember to stay hydrated before, during and after your smoking session. By doing so, everything should go smoothly.

Opt for cannabis-infused edibles that contain specific doses, (such as the mouthwatering munchies offered by FLI,) if you want to get an accurate dose. These products are also ideal for consumption on the move, so long as you stick to your limits. Start slow and monitor your body’s response. Increase the dosage as your tolerance increases and refrain from mixing weed with alcohol or prescription drugs, since this may cause an unpleasant high.