Although marijuana and alcohol are frequently used together, there has been little research into how the two substances react. A new study reported on in Science Daily, however, shows that when they are mixed the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — marijuana’s active ingredient — in a person’s blood is far higher than if marijuana is smoked on its own.
Because the combination of alcohol and cannabis is the most common one detected in car accidents, the research looked at the two drugs from the point of view of vehicle safety.
Scientists examined 19 people drinking alcohol, or a placebo, in low doses ten minutes before inhaling vaporized cannabis in either a low or high dose. When alcohol was consumed, a far higher blood concentration of THC emerged.
When the two drugs were taken together, researchers concluded that the possibility of vehicular crashes increased considerably than if only one drug was taken, Science Daily reports.
“The significantly higher blood THC … values with alcohol possibly explain increased performance impairment observed from cannabis-alcohol combinations,” said lead researcher Dr. Marilyn A. Huestis.
Researchers hope the information will create better drug-related driving legislation.