As many of us learned the hard way in college, weed and alcohol aren’t exactly the most graceful pairing. But CBD—cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis that’s credited with soothing anxiety, improving sleep, and more—must be a different story, right? After all, bartenders are now mixing it into cocktails, so you’d assume it would be relatively safe (and might even make your martini feel extra relaxing.)
Well, the first thing to keep in mind is that the interactions between CBD and alcohol haven’t been rigorously researched. But based on the studies that have been done, it doesn’t seem like there are any immediate adverse effects of mixing the two substances on a one-off basis. In fact, you might not notice anything unusual about your buzz at all. “In the [small] studies I’ve seen, there wasn’t a noticeable difference between people who had alcohol and those who had alcohol with CBD. Their experiences were in line with what happens when you have alcohol [alone],” says Jackie Harding, a scientist at cannabis research and development company Cannabistry Labs. “It’s not like you’re going to feel better if you have CBD when you have a cocktail.” (Although CBD affects everyone differently, so it’s a good idea to know how your body responds to it before you start adding it to your happy-hour order.)
Cannabis Feminist and Hempia co-founder Jessica Assaf agrees with this sentiment. “Because there is no euphoric ‘high’ associated with CBD, the immediate benefits are subtle,” she says. Yet Assaf says there’s a different reason to consider pairing CBD with your cocktail, if you’re going to be knocking one back anyway—she suspects that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD could actually be beneficial for drinkers, and there is some research that backs her theory up. “Multiple [animal] studies show us that CBD protects against neurodegeneration associated with alcohol,” says doctor of pharmacy and wellness expert Lindsey Elmore. “CBD may also help protect the liver from alcohol-generated oxidative stress.”
Even so, Elmore definitely doesn’t recommend using CBD to offset the effects of booze—instead, she believes moderation is always the way to go. She adds that if you’re using CBD for medical reasons or are taking other medications, you should always check with your doctor before combining CBD with alcohol. Harding agrees with this cautious approach, noting that the long-term impact of drinking CBD cocktails on the regular is still very much a question mark. (The same goes for non-CBD cocktails, TBH.)
“People have to remember that CBD is a substance we don’t know much about,” Harding says. “It’s really hard for me to say if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, mostly because there isn’t a lot of information. But the research is still evolving and we’re learning new things all the time.” In the meantime, you can rest assured that mocktails are always going to be a totally safe option.
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