Alcohol and Marijuana

This information was prepared by the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre in Australia, and used with permission.  Some information may not be accurate for U.S. readers.

Polydrug use is using more than one drug at one time. The reasons why people use drugs in combination are to either increase their intoxication, or to increase the effect of the first drug taken.

Sometimes people mix two drugs because they are already intoxicated and are no longer making rational decisions about their drug-taking and the wellbeing of themselves and those around them. The more drugs being used at the same time, the more likely it becomes that things will go wrong.

Not counting tobacco, the most common form of polydrug mix is alcohol and marijuana. When people mix marijuana and alcohol together at one time, the results can be unpredictable. The effects of either drug may be more powerful or the combination may produce different and unpredictable reactions.

What Are the Effects of Mixing Marijuana and Alcohol?

When people smoke marijuana and drink alcohol at the same time they can experience nausea and/or vomiting or they can react with panic, anxiety or paranoia. Mixing marijuana with alcohol can increase the risk of vulnerable people experiencing psychotic symptoms.

There is some evidence to support that having alcohol in your blood causes a faster absorption of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana that causes intoxication). This can lead to the marijuana having a much stronger effect than it would normally have and could result in ‘greening out’.

Greening out is a term commonly referred to in a situation where people feel sick after smoking marijuana. They can go pale and sweaty, feel dizzy, nauseous and may even start vomiting. They usually feel they have to lie down straight away.

It appears that this is more likely to happen if a person has been drinking alcohol before smoking marijuana rather than the other way around.

What Are the Risks of Mixing Marijuana and Alcohol?