Alcohol and cannabis share some com­ mon histories and cultural rela琀onships. Both have been around for thousands of years and have been met with socie­ tal acceptance and rejec琀on, as well as government prohibi琀ons. Both have also been used for celebra琀on, recrea­ 琀on, and medica琀on.

The growing acceptance and availability of legal cannabis raises a user’s poten­ 琀al to combine it with alcohol con­ sump琀on, crea琀ng what Amanda Reiman, Ph.D., calls a "synergistic rela­tionship."

Dr. Reiman is the vice president of pub­ lic policy research at New Fron琀er Data, a Washington, D.C.­based data, ana­ ly琀cs and technology firm specializing in the global cannabis industry. She also is a public health researcher and an in­ terna琀onally recognized cannabis ex­pert.

A “synergis琀c rela琀onship,” Dr. Reiman explains, means that when alcohol and cannabis are added together, they “en­ hance the effects of each other. It’s a one­plus­one equals four scenario, not one­plus­one equals two. And that’s really where folks have to be careful. And the order in which you consume them also makes a difference.”

Her best advice is to avoid using both at the same 琀me, or even switching from one to the other with some down­ 琀me in between. But Dr. Reiman ac­ knowledges that people don’t always do what’s best for them, par琀cularly a昀er they have consumed a substance — whether alcohol or cannabis — that can relax inhibi琀ons and alter behavior.

But what happens when cannabis is in­ troduced first, followed by alcohol?

Dr. Reiman says there isn’t a lot of re­ search on that order of use, “but what we do know is it’s possible that canna­ bis will delay the effect of alcohol. So, you might have a li琀le sip and, or maybe you have a drink and you’re like, ‘I don’t really feel drunk.‘ And you have more, but it might hit you later on,” she says.

She also warns against consuming can­ nabis­infused edibles and alcohol within two hours of each other, explaining that “you really want to know what the ef­ fect of that edible is before you add al­ cohol.”

Given a choice between using alcohol or cannabis, Dr. Reiman goes all in on the latter, a conclusion based on re­ search and her study of therapeu琀c plants.

She points out that no one has fatally overdosed from cannabis use, while overconsuming alcohol can cause death. Alcohol abuse also can cause physiological harm, such as liver dam­ age, high blood pressure and other life­ threatening ailments.

Dr. Reiman says there’s scien琀fic ev­ idence showing cannabis can help treat people who are trying to reduce or eliminate alcohol dependency by less­ ening the effects of withdrawal symp­ toms, such as spasms, irritability and sleeplessness.

“Cannabis is not a vice, and I think it’s im­ portant to say that because I do consider alcohol a vice,” she says. “I think alcohol provides relaxa琀on and it can help with sleep, which are definitely therapeu琀c uses, but I do not think alcohol is a medi­ cine. I think cannabis is a medicine. And even for people who are using it for what we would call ‘recrea琀onal purposes,’ it’s s琀ll providing therapeu琀c benefits, and I think it firmly belongs in the field of a ther­ apeu琀c tool.”

She strongly cautions young people against using recrea琀onal cannabis, say­ ing “there’s the potential that it could impact the way that the brain is devel­ oping in the teenage years.”

As for adults over 21, Dr. Reiman says cannabis use can impair short­term memory, but “from a research perspec­ 琀ve, we do not see any long­term cog­ ni琀ve impact.”

[NOTE: Recrea琀onal cannabis use is il­ legal in Florida.]

Visit to watch MMERI’s Conversations on Cannabis Virtual Forum on YouTube featuring Dr. Amanda Reiman discuss alcohol and cannabis use.

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