Q: Is it safe to drink wine while using cannabis? What are the risks?—Imelda, Taos, N.M.
A: Moderate wine consumption has been linked to a range of health benefits, which are attributable to both wine’s alcohol content and its numerous beneficial polyphenols. But drinking alcohol, especially in large quantities, can also pose serious health risks.
The use of cannabis, or marijuana, also presents a range of risks, as well as possible benefits. As social attitudes and legal restrictions around marijuana have loosened in recent years, more information has become available about the effects of using cannabis, medically or recreationally. While the federal government has only approved it as a treatment for two types of epilepsy and still restricts research on cannabis, it’s believed cannabis may help with managing conditions such as chronic pain, nausea from chemotherapy, anxiety and muscle spasticity, though it is also linked to problems with brain development and lung health, among others.
While cannabis farmers and winemakers don’t always get along due to concerns about odor, water usage and more, can cannabis and wine play nicely together?
According to More About Marijuana, an educational web initiative of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, "using alcohol and marijuana together results in greater impairment than either substance alone." Though more research on this subject is needed, the Commission states, the health risks may be greater because concurrent use "enhances the effects of both drugs." In particular, the website notes, alcohol may increase the length of time tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of cannabis, stays in the body.
If you do decide to mix alcohol and marijuana, remember that both are known to impair driving, judgment and motor skills, and both carry psychological risks (for example, both can act as depressants) as well as physical ones. Since alcohol may increase the length of time THC stays in the body, carefully monitor your cannabis dose, and keep in mind that many marijuana products available today are much more potent than in the past. Moreover, edibles can take several hours to kick in, so exercise caution and pace your intake of both cannabis and wine accordingly. As always, talk to your doctor about incorporating alcohol—and cannabis, if you choose—into a healthy lifestyle.—Kenny Martin