What Happens When You Mix Caffeine and Marijuana?
With marijuana legalized in an increasing number of states, experts continue to explore its potential benefits, side effects, and interactions with other substances.
The interactions between caffeine and marijuana aren’t totally clear yet. Still, you don’t have to look too hard to find products that already mix caffeine with two key compounds of marijuana, CBD and THC.
Read on to learn more about how caffeine can interact with marijuana and the potential side effects and risks of combining the two.
Research on the interaction between caffeine and marijuana is still in the early stages, but so far, it seems that consuming the two together may produce different effects than using them separately.
Caffeine generally acts as a stimulant, while marijuana can act as either a stimulant or a depressant. In other words, using caffeine tends to energize most people. The effects of marijuana can vary, but many people use it to feel more relaxed.
It may seem possible, then, that caffeine might cancel out the effects of marijuana, or vice versa. For example, maybe smoking a little weed could help counteract coffee jitters. But so far, there’s no evidence to support that the two counteract each other in any way.
While there’s no evidence to suggest that marijuana and caffeine simply cancel each other out, two animal studies suggest that mixing the two may enhance some of marijuana’s effects.
A different ‘high’
A 2014 study looked at squirrel monkeys who had been given THC, the compound in marijuana that produces the high. The monkeys had the option to keep receiving more THC.
Researchers then gave them different doses of MSX-3, which produces effects similar to those of caffeine. When given low doses of MSX-3, the monkeys gave themselves less THC. But at high doses, the monkeys gave themselves more THC.
This suggests that low levels of caffeine may enhance your high so you don’t use as much. But high levels of caffeine could affect your high in the opposite way, leading you to use more marijuana.
More research as needed, as this small study was conducted only on animals, not humans.
Caffeine helps many people feel more alert. You might drink coffee, tea, or energy drinks every morning to help you wake up, or just to help increase your concentration when you feel tired or less focused than usual.
Some people also find caffeine helps improve working memory. Marijuana, on the other hand, is known for its less desirable effect on memory. Again, you’d think the two would balance each other out, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
A 2012 study looking at how a combination of caffeine and THC affected memory in rats. The results suggest that a combination of caffeine and a low dose of THC seemed to impair working memory more than a higher dose of THC would on its own.
Remember, this study was only done using rats, so its unclear how these results translate in humans. Still, it does suggest that caffeine may increase the effects of THC.
So far, there haven’t been any reported cases of extreme risks or side effects of combining caffeine and marijuana. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Plus, people can have varying reactions to both caffeine and marijuana. If you do try mixing the two, make sure you first understand how your body reacts to each one individually. If you’re sensitive to marijuana, for example, combining it with caffeine might result in an unpleasantly strong high.
If you do decide to mix marijauna and caffeine, follow these tips to help you avoid a bad reaction:
- Start small. Start with small amounts of both, less than you would typically consume of each individually.
- Go slow. Give your body plenty of time (at least 30 minutes) to adjust to the combination before having more of either substance.
- Pay attention to usage. It might sound like overkill, but it’s easy to lose track of how much caffeine or marijuana you’ve had, especially when mixing the two.
There are serious side effects that can come from ingesting very high doses of caffeine, from high blood pressure to rapid heart rate. There have also been deaths related to ingesting large amounts of caffeine, though researchers noted that the deceased took caffeine pills or powder, not caffeinated drinks.
Above all, make sure to listen to your body and mind. If you experience unusual symptoms after mixing the two, reach out to a healthcare provider for guidance. You likely aren’t in any great danger, but the combination of caffeine’s heart-racing effects and marijuana’s tendency to cause anxiety in some people can be a recipe for panic.Caffeine and marijuana are an increasingly popular combo, but there are some potential interactions to be aware of. Learn how to avoid a bad time and stay safe.
Your Brain on Coffee, Wine, and Cannabis
A funny, but realistic, look at the mental effects of 3 of the world’s most talked about substances.
What You’re like on Coffee, Wine, and Cannabis
- A coffee drinker will explain the profundity of getting things done.
- A wine drinker will enthuse about the importance of health and longevity.
- A cannabis user will extol the benefits of feeling happy on a regular basis.
Caffeine in coffee has a chemical structure very similar to a chemical in our brain called adenosine, which is what makes us sleepy. So, when we drink coffee, the caffeine binds to the adenosine (think of it like puzzle pieces fitting together) making it resist binding with the receptors in our brain. We feel awake! The more coffee we drink, however, the more adenosine our body builds up to normalize.
Half Life: about 6 hours
Alcohol in wine is a chemical that stimulates a part of your brain often referred to as the “primitive brain” (aka hypothalamus). This part of your brain controls our “simple” functions like hunger, body temperature, fear, mothering (in women), and the need for sex. So, if you suddenly find yourself starved, sweaty and fearlessly wanting physical attention… well, this might be why. Of course, if we drink too much, alcohol is poisonous and our bodies will shut down in order to metabolize it.
Half Life: 1 hour (for 1 drink)
THC in cannabis is a chemical that has an effect on all chemical messages (neurotransmitters) sent around in your brain. In short, it slows down your brain’s messaging system which has several effects. One of the benefits is that it leaves your reward and motivation system (the nuccleus accumbens) on, so you will feel euphoric and positive. On the other hand, we can become paranoid or overeat because THC slows our ability to give good information to the the fear/hunger center in our brain (hypothalamus).
Half life: 36 hours
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Were you hoping to get something done?
Time for a roller-coaster ride!
“We all need something to help us unwind at the end of the day. You might have a glass of wine, or a joint, or a big delicious blob of heroin to silence your silly brainbox of its witterings but there has to be some form of punctuation, or life just seems utterly relentless.”
Did you look over your shoulder once while looking at this? Chances are you just drank some coffee.
Time to get an Uber.
This article was created under the influence of wine. So was this entire website, for that matter.
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- Don’t take our word for it, do your own research. Here are the primary sources we used to create this article.
- Your brain on caffeine. cnet
- Science of marijuana. scholastic
- Legalize it. psychology today
- medical marijuana and the mind
- Caffeine, mental health, and psychiatric disorders. pub med
- Caffeine diet and memory. harvard health
- Alcohol, the full story. harvard health
- Can moderate drinking promote longevity. harvard health
About Madeline Puckette
James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFollyA funny, but realistic, look at the mental effects of 3 of the world's most talked about substances. Alcohol, Caffeine and THC face off. ]]>