In January, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control issued new rules declaring that intoxicating drinks cannot be infused with marijuana. Of course, that isn’t going to stop many people from simultaneously consuming weed and booze, especially as more states like California roll back cannabis prohibition.
These people might be interested to hear about a string of recent studies suggesting that cannabis can actually have protective benefits for the liver. Still, they should resist the urge to start slamming shots after taking a dab, or vice versa.
The largest study of the bunch found that drinkers who smoke weed had significantly lower odds of developing liver diseases including hepatitis, cirrhosis, steatosis, and even hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer. Researchers at the National Institute of Scientific Research at the University of Quebec looked at the discharge records of nearly 320,000 patients who had a past or current history of abusive alcohol use.
“We found that if people are using cannabis in the dependent manner, they actually are much more protected from alcoholic liver disease,” Terence Bukong, a hepatologist and the study’s lead investigator, tells Tonic.
Alcohol abusers who didn’t use weed had about a 90 percent chance of developing liver disease, whereas light cannabis-using heavy drinkers had about an 8 percent chance. For dependent cannabis users who drink a lot, there was only a 1.36 percent chance. In other words, this study suggests that heavy pot use could mean a better defense against alcohol-related disease compared to light or no marijuana use.