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How Does Alcohol Affect THC Blood Concentration?

June 3, 2015

If you’re the type of person who likes having a beer in one hand and a joint in the other, you may be interested in this new study from the American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC), which found that THC blood concentrations increase significantly with alcohol consumption.

Most of us are experientially familiar with the effects of pairing marijuana with drinks, but not a lot of research has been done on what’s actually happening physiologically speaking. This particular study had a small sample size of just 19 people, but it does provide a jumping-off point for future research on how the two interact. They tested variations of small and large doses of cannabis and alcohol, and compared them with control and placebo groups. Without alcohol, THC concentrations fell between 32.7 and 42.2 µg/L THC with low and high doses respectively, and with alcohol, those amounts increased to 35.3 and 67.5 µg/L THC.

These figures may not mean much out of context, but the jump in THC concentration is a notable one. In their press release, the researchers mention the implications these results may have on the drafting of DUI laws, which have been a point of contention among marijuana users as it is more difficult to measure impairment with cannabis than with alcohol. This beast of a topic warrants a longer discussion (oh hey, like this one here), but at the very least, it’s good to see that research is being done in this area; those who’ve witnessed the implementation of arbitrary per se cannabis DUID limits know it’s sorely needed. But really, you don’t need empirical evidence to know that consuming alcohol, cannabis, or a combination of the two requires a degree of responsibility when driving is involved.

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Bailey Rahn

Bailey is a senior content manager at Leafly, specializing in strains and health. She's spent 7+ years researching cannabis products, spreading patients’ stories, and exploring healthy ways of integrating cannabis into daily life.

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  • LuxoCamper

    As you likely know, Cannabis is about to be made legal right across Canada. As a long-time fan, I’m certainly eager for July 1 to get here. However, I do sincerely worry about the dark sides of legalization. Most concerning is the expected proliferation of drivers who can/will get high pretty much anywhere, any time. There will be countless thousands of ‘Noobs’ (no disrespect intended) who will think, ‘Hey it’s legal, I’m done work, my buddy’s offering me a toke, why not?’ Your fine article has widened my thinking, as I come to imagine the scenarios where any of us – Noobs & Sophisticates alike – are having a couple of beers or wines, and add in a couple of hits (just ’cause we can…). I know I’ve done it, probably you too. Now, multiply that by a gazillion, and the size of the issue becomes real. Please don’t let it be OUR FAULT that Cannabis harms lives. It is up to each of us individually to consume and resume responsibly, AND to constantly promote safety in our own circles.

  • viper643

    Thanks to our northern friends, the USA will have a years’ worth of high driving to study

  • Highway 69

    I’ve been a snobbish cannabis-only guy for a while.

    Believing in the superiority of cannabis over any other recreational drug (including alcohol) — I first stopped drinking alcohol because I wanted a “pure” high when I used pot. The negative social aspects of drunkenness deters me from drinking today.

  • Vagitarian

    I stocked up on some edibles during my last trip to Toronto. Those things are potent…I choked down 2 x 10mg chocolate bites and a 30mg gummy bear, I was high AF for several hours and f’d up the next morning. I guess my tolerance for cannabis is about that of a school girl. From here on out, it’s 20mg or less.