There have been debunked theories about marijuana being a gateway drug to harder substances.

But what about marijuana’s effect on consuming alcohol. Do you drink up when you toke up?

Researchers at the University of Washington wanted to find out if legalizing cannabis has led to an increase in alcohol consumption.

“If legalized marijuana resulted in increased use of both drugs, costs to society could increase dramatically, particularly since those who use both substances tend to use them at the same time,” the school said in a statement.

The researchers theorized that pot could increase “reward and sedation” effects that could spark a cycle of using both drugs. The University of Washington says:

The researchers reviewed more than 750 studies on marijuana and alcohol use and focused on 15 that specifically addressed the links between marijuana policies and drinking. They looked at how decriminalized marijuana, medical marijuana and recreational marijuana impacted alcohol use.

The results were here and there.

Some states that legalized it in some form saw fewer emergency room visits for alcohol poisoning. Likewise, high school seniors in pot-legal states tended to drink less, the university said.

Yet some pot states had higher rates of drinking than non-marijuana states. Some medical marijuana states saw fewer alcohol-related deaths. Some saw more.

The conclusion: It’s not clear if legalizing it leads us to drink more.

“The researchers concluded that there’s evidence of marijuana and alcohol being both substitutes and complements,” the school said. “Given the rapidly evolving landscape of marijuana policy, they say further study will be important to understand how changes in marijuana laws impact the use of alcohol and other drugs.”

Lead author Katarína Guttmannová, a researcher in the UW’s Social Development Research Group, said, “This is a complicated issue and requires a nuanced approach. We were hoping to have more clear-cut answers at the end of our research. But you know what? This is the science of human behavior, and it’s messy, and that’s OK.”

About The Author

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Raul Duke has been working as a journalist in Southern California for two decades. The medical marijuana juggernaut is one of his many beats. He's a longtime Westside resident who needs to renew his doctor's recommendation soon. If you have news tips, reach out: raul@the420times.com

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