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Wine & Weed: Enhanced Experience or Recipe for Disaster?

Gone are the days of the stoner stereotype of decades past—that of the unkempt, indolent slacker who had nary a time for aught else but keeping a joint lit between their fingers. Think of Jeff Bridges as “The Dude” in the rollicking 1998 crime comedy The Big Lebowski.   

These days, there isn’t a shortage of studies that reveal how cannabis users are more likely to be employed, and how they are more likely to be satisfied with their lives. Moreover, we’re also currently seeing the rise of epicurean cannabis users—those driven not just by their love for the venerable herb but also by their pursuit for the finer things in life. Among other things, such cannabis users are characterized by their penchant for mixing their weed with other things that make life worth living.

In fact, as reported by writer David Downs in Leafy Magazine, cannabis users love pairing their weed with so many other things in their lives. The data comes from a report by the cannabis consumer research firm BDS Analytics, which revealed that some 45% of the respondents enjoyed their weed while listening to music and watching movies. The same report showed that 42% enjoyed their cannabis while snacking, 16% used weed while they were exercising, and 16% consumed cannabis while they were enjoying a fine dining experience at the same time. 

The Rise of the ‘Ganjier’

But as marijuana becomes increasingly more accepted in the mainstream, so to is the idea of pairing weed with that other object of people’s hedonistic desires—alcohol. In fact, in the same BDS Analytics report, it was revealed that 11% of cannabis users enjoyed pairing their weed with wine, 13% with craft beer, and 14% with spirits. This shouldn’t come as surprise, however, considering that as much as 72% of cannabis users also enjoy consuming alcohol.

As observed by writer Caroline Helper in an article for Eater Magazine, many pot enthusiasts these days are also starting to think of themselves more as connoisseurs. This awareness comes with a more nuanced and more sophisticated understanding of the elements of cannabis pedigree—from origins and terroir to strains and even tasting notes, similar to how bottles of vintage might be considered by a sommelier. In fact, some of these cannabis enthusiasts have begun to style themselves as such, only they wish to be known as ganjiers.

Nevertheless it is worth noting that these days, big players in the wine industry are still wary of the idea of having to face a competitor in the form of the cannabis industry. This is particularly true in areas like Canada, for example, where marijuana was fully legalized just recently in October 2018, and where now questions abound as to how exactly this move is going to affect wine consumer behaviors.

Some fear that a substitution effect will cause winemakers to lose revenue, although there are also those who believe that a post-cannabis prohibition era is the perfect time and opportunity to co-exist, collaborate, and promote the growth of a new market segment. In particular, they aim to target crossfaders—consumers who love mixing these two types of drugs.

Discover A Transformative Cannabis Culinary Journey

Cannabis & Cocktails: A Match Made in Heaven or Hell?

Some wine producers in the United States, are, in fact already one step ahead of the rest as they now produce wine varieties that are infused with cannabis. Marijuana is fermented along with the wine for many months, imbuing the beverage with THC cannabinoids that cause the characteristic high that many cannabis users desire.

As a case in point of just how attractive this market segment is becoming for many alcohol producers, consider the fact that alcohol maker Constellation Brands—a Fortune 500 company—recently paid $4 billion to purchase a 38% stake in Canopy Growth Corporation, a Canadian medical marijuana company. Moreover, some companies in the U.S are now even conducting special wine and weed tours for their discerning customers.

But still, the question about how safe is it exactly to pair weed with alcohol remains. The consensus seems to be simply to make sure that you use both substances responsibly so that you don’t go overboard. And most crossfaders do so without trouble whatsoever.

For alcohol and weed pairing enthusiasts, the aim is to achieve that characteristic blissed-out, feel-good state, which appears to be caused by alcohol elevating the concentrations of THC in the blood. It’s an interaction that has already been observed in a study by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry.

However, drinking too much alcohol before consuming marijuana could also result in a person “greening out.” As explained by Dr. Constance Scharff on Psychology Today, greening out is a situation in which a person becomes very sick after drinking alcohol and then smoking marijuana. It is characterized by paleness and nausea, and it may even trigger vomiting.

On the other hand, smoking marijuana before drinking alcohol could have a reverse effect on the body, since cannabis can cause the level of alcohol in the blood to become initially lower than what it would have been had the person consumed only alcohol. One possible dangerous effect of this reaction would be when a person misjudges just how much alcohol they’ve already consumed. If they drink excessively, they could end up consuming toxic amounts of alcohol, resulting in hospitalization or even death.

Naturally, limiting your intake of both alcohol and marijuana is the best way to avoid the dangerous side effects of consuming them together in excess. After all, even the over-consumption of just one of these substances can have serious consequences for anyone. Again, be responsible when crossfading, and you don’t have to worry about getting ill, or worse, fading into the afterlife.

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