Harvard researchers get high…then drunk

Beer before grass, you’re on your arse; grass before beer, you’re in the clear.

It’s a helpful little rhyme to keep in mind when you’re nearly finished a six-pack and you see a joint coming your way. It’s a good piece of wisdom to pass on to a friend as they’re hurling up their guts and weeping over a toilet bowl after following tequila shots with a cone or two. And it’s backed up by serious research done at Harvard.

A study from Harvard Medical School confirmed what seasoned party animals had been saying for years; you’re more likely to end up dangerously wasted if you smokewhen you’re already drunk. The scientists conducting the experiment did this by getting a group of volunteers to various levels of drunkenness, giving them joints, and then testing their blood.

Cartoon by Rose McEwen

Cartoon by Rose McEwen

They found that the drunk groups absorbed the active ingredient in pot smoke, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a hell of a lot faster and at much higher levels than the sober group. So while the non-drinkers were getting a chilled-out buzz going, the group with alcohol on board were getting a Snoop Dogg level dose of dank sticky icky.

The researchers believe the effect is probably due to the alcohol causing relaxation and dilation of the blood vessels in the lungs. As the vessels widen, more blood flows through your lungs, which absorbs and carries more THC through your body.

Keep in mind that once these unusually high levels of THC reach your brain, your mental functions have already taken a fair beating from the booze. It’s no surprise that you can go from being five beers deep and raging on the dance floor to wondering how to stop the room spinning in a couple of puffs.

As for the second half of that saying ‘grass before beer, you’re in the clear’, the same research group did basically an identical study in reverse. They found that giving people joints before they drank reduced the absorption of alcohol.

So there you have it, confirmation of the crucial rule for mixing alcohol and pot.

Honi Soit
Honi Soit is the largest and oldest weekly student newspaper in Australia. Our articles, like this one, are made possible by our dedicated student reporters and contributors.
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