cbd and alcohol

CBD and Alcohol: Ask a Pharmacist


The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp-derived CBD legal federally as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. Ever since, we've seen CBD-infused cocktails popping up on trendy bar menus. Even wine and liquor companies are getting in on the craze with CBD-infused booze. CBD is regarded as safe. But should we be mixing CBD products with alcohol? What happens when both CBD and alcohol are in your bloodstream at the same time? Let's take a look.

What Is CBD?

CBD (aka cannabidiol) is a cannabinoid (cannabis compound). It’s one of the main active ingredients of the cannabis plant. Most CBD available in the United States is derived from hemp, which is defined by federal law as a cannabis plant with a THC level of no more than 0.3%. (And no, that’s not nearly enough to get you high.)

Traditionally, hemp has been used for commercial and industrial products. Industrial hemp has been used for rope and textiles, clothing, food, paper, bioplastics, insulation, and even biofuel.

Hemp plants look identical to marijuana plants because they are essentially the same plant, cannabis sativa. The only difference between hemp and marijuana is the level of THC. High-THC cannabis, often referred to as "marijuana," is only legal under specific state laws, whereas CBD-rich hemp is federally legal as of 2018. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a study that compared oral CBD ingestion to active marijuana smoking found that the latter produced abuse-related effects while the former did not.1

How CBD Works

CBD works by encouraging your body to produce more of its own cannabinoids in the endocannabinoid system. The receptors of this fascinating, fairly newly discovered system are found throughout your body — in the brain, organs, immune cells, glands, connective tissues, and more. It acts like the command center regulating various functions to maintain homeostasis and keep your body balanced and healthy.

There's evidence that CBD could have many potential wellness benefits.2 These include mood support, reduced everyday stress, and relief from occasional sleeplessness.

Side Effects of CBD

CBD oil is a safe, well-tolerated health supplement, and for most people, there are no adverse reactions to worry about. However, it's possible to experience mild side effects, depending on the quality of the CBD oil and the strength of the dosage. These may include feeling dizzy, nauseous, or tired or experiencing dry mouth. It's also possible for CBD oil to interact with other substances, so if you're on any medications, check with your doctor first before starting a CBD regimen.


Additionally, there are no cases of reported abuse or dependence relating to the use of oil.3 In other words, as a health supplement, CBD offers therapeutic potential without the downsides of being intoxicated.

Consuming Alcohol: What You Should Know

It's hard not to find someone you know who doesn't drink alcohol at least from time to time. Alcohol, also known as ethanol, is a substance produced by fermentation of grains, grapes, starchy vegetables, and other sugar sources. As a psychoactive drug, it's known to alter mood and behavior. While many people enjoy alcohol as a part of their social activities, it's known to lower inhibitions and impair judgment. People can also form an addiction to alcohol, and it can be harmful to one's health. This makes moderation and safety key.

The Short-Term Effects of Alcohol

Wondering how drinking affects you in the moment and the morning after? Alcohol can cause a wide range of acute (short-term) side effects that vary drastically, depending on factors like the amount consumed, genetics, tolerance level, medications, and more.

Here's a quick rundown of some common immediate effects alcohol can have on the mind and body while you're actually drinking, or the next day:

  • Slurred speech

  • Drowsiness

  • Impaired judgment

  • Blackouts

  • Decreased perception

  • Headaches

  • Upset stomach

  • Liver toxicity

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Distorted senses

The Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Consuming alcohol in large quantities over a long period of time can cause severe — even life-threatening — health issues. People who develop alcohol addiction face heightened risks of chronic diseases and organ damage over time.

Here are some of the adverse long-term effects that can result from excessive, sustained alcohol intake:

  • Alcohol poisoning: Dangerously high blood alcohol levels that can lead to coma or death

  • Liver disease: Heavy drinking damages liver function and leads to fatty liver, cirrhosis, and liver failure

  • Nerve damage: Alcohol abuse can cause numbness, muscle weakness, pain, and paralysis

  • Addiction: Alcohol dependence alters brain chemistry and drives compulsive drinking behaviors

  • Ulcers: Excess alcohol erodes the stomach lining and causes painful sores

  • Brain damage: Alcohol can lead to shrinkage of brain tissue leading to memory and cognitive issues

  • Sexual problems: Heavy drinking decreases sexual function and desire4

The chronic effects of ongoing alcohol abuse can be severe. Seeking treatment for alcohol addiction and maintaining moderation are crucial to avoiding long-term health consequences.

Is It Safe to Mix CBD and Alcohol?

With CBD cocktails popping up everywhere, the latest trendy wellness ingredient and alcohol seem to make a great pair. Bartenders are getting creative with recipes by combining alcohol with CBD. But before you order that CBD margarita, there are some potential drawbacks to mixing cannabidiol and alcohol that you should be aware of.

A few small animal studies suggest combining CBD and alcohol may amplify their effects, especially at high doses. This could cause increased sedation and drowsiness.5

Unfortunately, most studies looking at CBD and alcohol involve subjects taking large amounts of both. More research is needed examining the effects of moderate amounts of CBD and alcohol on human subjects. For now, experts can't say for sure whether blending CBD and booze is completely safe or not. It's smart to exercise caution until more robust data is available.6

Mixing Alcohol and CBD: What Really Happens?

As mentioned above, combining CBD and alcohol could potentially amplify their effects, especially when it comes to the sedative properties of both substances.

Just as CBD and alcohol taken separately affect each person differently, combining alcohol with CBD will likely cause different reactions in different people. These may include:

  • Lethargy

  • Drowsiness or sleepiness

  • Agitation

  • Irritability

  • Ease of social interaction

  • Feelings of relaxation

Studies have found people had impaired motor skills and time perception when taking CBD and alcohol together. They didn't experience the same effects with CBD alone.7

Factors like genetics, tolerance, weight, and more impact how each individual may respond.

You don't need a CBD cocktail to experience an interaction between the two — they can be taken separately. CBD and alcohol can interact if you take them within four to eight hours of each other, according to James Giordano, professor of neurology and biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center. CBD taken before bed after having a drink with dinner may result in a stronger effect than it otherwise would without alcohol.8

Therefore it's best to wait at least four hours after your last dose of CBD before consuming alcohol. And vice versa — give it at least four hours after your last alcoholic beverage before you take your CBD supplement.

Can CBD Lower Your Blood Alcohol Concentration?

There is some evidence that CBD might play a role in lowering blood alcohol levels, or blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is the percentage of alcohol present in the bloodstream.

A study that dates back to the 1970s reported a significant reduction in BAC when individuals consumed 200 mg of CBD alongside alcohol, compared to those who consumed alcohol with a placebo.10 But it's important to acknowledge the limitations of this study, which is not only outdated but used a very high dose of CBD. Since then, other studies have concluded that CBD does not impact blood alcohol levels.11

Moral of the story? Don't be fooled into thinking CBD makes it safer to operate vehicles or equipment after drinking. As far as we know, consuming them together does not cancel out the risks of either substance.

Can CBD Help Treat Alcohol Addiction?

Can CBD help with alcohol addiction, or alcohol use disorder?

Alcohol use disorder (AUD for short) is a term used to describe a problematic pattern of alcohol consumption that can lead to significant distress or impairment. It's more than just enjoying a drink or two — it's when alcohol starts taking over your life.

Symptoms of alcohol use disorder can vary but may include:

  • Inability to control or cut down on drinking

  • Spending a considerable amount of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of alcohol

  • Continuing to drink despite negative consequences on relationships, work, or health

Some researchers believe some preliminary animal studies indicate CBD may minimize some harmful effects of alcohol on organs and help relieve common alcohol withdrawal symptoms like headaches, nausea, and irritability.12,13 However, the findings don’t mean that CBD will have the same effect in humans. So, as of yet, no conclusions can be drawn as of yet about whether or not CBD can help with alcohol addiction or the withdrawal effects of alcohol. What we do know is that cannabidiol taken as part of a regular health regimen can have a positive impact on our bodies.

The Takeaway: Should You Mix CBD and Alcohol?

Should You Mix CBD and Alcohol

Until more extensive human research is conducted, experts can't say for sure whether combining CBD and alcohol is safe or not. Early animal studies suggest potential risks when mixing high doses. However, the impact of moderate consumption on humans remains unclear. As always, moderation and safety are essential with any substance.

Of course, if you're looking to boost your overall health and well-being, you can always enjoy taking a health-boosting CBD supplement on its own. At Cornbread Hemp, we understand the importance of quality when it comes to cannabidiol. This is why we only offer the highest-quality CBD products — made from Flower-Only™ extract, containing the full spectrum of cannabis compounds (including 2 mg of THC), and USDA certified organic through every step of the process. Shop our CBD collection now.

About the Author
Dr. Leslie Mudd, PharmD

A board certified oncology pharmacist with 25 years experience at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Leslie Mudd now serves as the Cornbread Hemp resident pharmacist and medical expert. Read Dr. Mudd's Full author bio here.


Mixing CBD with alcohol can heighten the effects of both. Consuming both, either at the same time or within a few hours of each other, may make you drowsy or lethargic.

Some animal studies show that taking CBD may protect against alcohol-induced cell and organ damage. It may also potentially reduce blood alcohol levels and relieve alcohol addiction and withdrawal symptoms.

Some people infuse sugar water with CBD oil and use that in any cocktail that requires simple syrup. You can put a few dashes in a Bloody Mary. Use a fruit-flavored CBD gummy instead of a cherry in your Manhattan. Put a CBD gummy on the rim of a margarita glass.


1. Urinary Pharmacokinetic Profile of Cannabinoids Following Administration of Vaporized and Oral Cannabidiol and Vaporized CBD-Dominant Cannabis. J Anal Toxicol. 2020;44(2):109‐125. doi:10.1093/jat/bkz080

2. Urinary Pharmacokinetic Profile of Cannabinoids Following Administration of Vaporized and Oral Cannabidiol and Vaporized CBD-Dominant Cannabis. J Anal Toxicol. 2020;44(2):109‐125. doi:10.1093/jat/bkz080

3. Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708–1709. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11909


5.Ajmera, R. (2019, May 22). What Happens If You Mix CBD and Alcohol? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cbd-and-alcohol

6. Andrews R, Paterson S. Production of Identical Retention Times and Mass Spectra for Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol Following Derivatization with Trifluoracetic Anhydride with 1,1,1,3,3,3-Hexafluoroisopropanol*. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, Volume 36, Issue 1. January/February 2012. Pages 61–65.

7. Ajmera, R. (2019, May 22). What Happens If You Mix CBD and Alcohol? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cbd-and-alcohol 

8.  What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? ADA National Network. Published July 26, 1990. Accessed July 1, 2020.

9. Yang, L., Rozenfeld, R., Wu, D., Devi, L. A., Zhang, Z., & Cederbaum, A. (2014). Cannabidiol protects liver from binge alcohol-induced steatosis by mechanisms including inhibition of oxidative stress and increase in autophagy. Free radical biology & medicine, 68, 260–267. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2013.12.026 

10. Consroe, P., Carlini, E. A., Zwicker, A. P., & Lacerda, L. A. (1979). Interaction of cannabidiol and alcohol in humans. Psychopharmacology, 66(1), 45–50. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00431988 

11. Gonzalez-Cuevas, G., Martin-Fardon, R., Kerr, T. M., Stouffer, D. G., Parsons, L. H., Hammell, D. C., Banks, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Weiss, F. (2018). Unique treatment potential of cannabidiol for the prevention of relapse to drug use: preclinical proof of principle. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 43(10), 2036–2045. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-018-0050-8++

12. Liput, D. J., Hammell, D. C., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Nixon, K. (2013). Transdermal delivery of cannabidiol attenuates binge alcohol-induced neurodegeneration in a rodent model of an alcohol use disorder. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior, 111, 120–127. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2013.08.013 

13. Yang, L., Rozenfeld, R., Wu, D., Devi, L. A., Zhang, Z., & Cederbaum, A. (2014). Cannabidiol protects liver from binge alcohol-induced steatosis by mechanisms including inhibition of oxidative stress and increase in autophagy. Free radical biology & medicine, 68, 260–267. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2013.12.026