We have good news for lovers of America’s two favorite mood-altering substances, caffeine and marijuana: Caffeine may enhance a pot smoker’s high.
The downside is that caffeine can also increase the chance of becoming addicted to cannabis.
While there hasn’t been a lot of research about how caffeine mixes with marijuana, Internet commenters have strong, sometimes contradictory opinions about the two chemicals.
r/Drugs, a Reddit user, says in the thread Caffeine & Weed are perfect:
After years of smoking I’ve found that caffeine and weed are a perfect mix. If i get nicely stoned then drink a strong cup of coffee the effects mix so perfectly. I get all the benefits of being high without feeling drowsy on the come down. I’ve never met anyone else who likes this combination, most swear it almost “sober them up” but I haven’t found this. Am I alone on this ?
The very next commenter, GolgiAppartus1, has a very different perspective that many Redditors agreed with:
One way ticket to Anxiety-Ville for me.
GolgiApparatus1 had 219 points on his comment, which means 219 more people gave it an upvote than the number who gave it a downvote. (For example, if 100 people liked his comment and 10 didn’t, it would have 90 points.) So, many commenters on Reddit agree with Mr. Apparatus.
But what does the science say? Psychology Today published an article that asked the question, “Does coffee enhance marijuana?” It said a study in the Journal of Neuroscience, conducted by researchers from the National Institutes of Health, “has finally provided a definitive answer: Yes, No, and it depends. I realize that sounds confusing, but their discovery does provide some fascinating insights into the workings of the brain and why humans find coffee and marijuana so enjoyable. Their euphoric effects may be related to each other.”
The Psychology Today article, written by an author and medical researcher, says another research article, in the scientific journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, concluded “coffee’s addictive properties also involve the brain’s marijuana-like neurotransmitter system.”
The article concludes that “high doses of coffee makes us feel so good because it is able to tap into virtually every reward system our brain has evolved. Hidden within that hot black silken elixir is a chemical that has taken over your brain by mimicking the actions of marijuana. Go ahead and have another cup; I’m going to.”
Coffee is mildly addictive. That said, it’s not like a narcotic addiction that can ruin people’s health and lives. Apparently it’s OK to have about 300 to 400 mg of caffeine per day—about the same amount in 2 or 3 cups of coffee.
And believe it or not, caffeine may be more addictive than marijuana. Up to 70 percent of people report withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking caffeine, reports a Johns Hopkins caffeine dependence fact sheet.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse saysonly about 9 percent of non-regular users become addicted to marijuana. But up to 50 percent of daily weed smokers become addicted.
When caffeine and marijuana are taken together, though, it can enhance the addictive effects of marijuana, says MedicalDaily.com.
“According to a recent study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, drinking large amounts of coffee may enhance your high and increase the likelihood of marijuana addiction,” MedicalDaily says. “… Marijuana and caffeine are America’s favorite drugs. In the U.S., 85 percent of the population consumes at least one caffeinated beverage per day, according to a 2014 study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. Meanwhile, more than 14 million Americans use marijuana regularly …”
But is it safe to mix the two? Again, not much research has been done on mixing caffeine and herb. Outside magazine published an article titled “A Primer on Mixing Caffeine and Marijuana” that states:
There’s not a lot of scientific research on what happens when you cross marijuana with any drug, says Jordan Tishler, a Harvard-trained physician who now specializes in cannabis-based medicine. From an anecdotal standpoint, he says, the caffeine-and-marijuana combination is probably fine. He’s never heard of a scenario where someone had a ghastly reaction after consuming both substances—which makes sense, based on how they work in the body.
News reports say there are now more marijuana dispensaries in Colorado than there are Starbucks or McDonald’s restaurants. And in Denmark, cafes have served weed and coffee together for years.
So maybe somebody better start studying the two drugs’ interactions soon.
Apparently, a coffee/marijuana buzz can be more healthful than getting high and then getting the munchies. DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young saidin 1988:
In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating 10 raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death. Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within the supervised routine of medical care.
And studies have shown that moderate amounts of caffeine do not harm people. Even in amounts larger than 400 mg per day the effects of caffeine are not catastrophic, though excessive use can cause headaches, shaking, anxiety, sleep loss and nausea.
The last thing you want when you’re high or sober is to have nausea, anxiety and a headache. As with most things in life, don’t overdo the coffee or energy drinks when you’re smoking.
Twitter users celebrate the intersection of coffee and weed a lot. We will leave you with an iconic image that brings the two together:
— Oasis Hemp (@OasisHemp) December 19, 2015
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Is there a big difference between synthetic and natural caffeine? Apparently, synthetic caffeine is much more powerful than the caffeine found naturally in plants. The question is, is synthetic caffeine harmful?
Some fairly ominous-sounding chemicals are used to process synthetic caffeine. Websites are unclear as to whether the ethyl acetate and methylene chloride (and carbon dioxide) used to process urea to manufacture synthetic caffeine remain in the product. Ethyl acetate is used as a flavoring in some foods, though, so perhaps it is not harmful and may remain in synthetic caffeine.
Why does soda have caffeine in it? Caffeine does add to the complex flavors of the various types of caffeinated soda. In fact, the taste of caffeine is bitter and has to be balanced with sugars or sweeteners and other flavors. Caffeine also adds a boost in energy to the drinkers of soda.
But what reason do the manufacturers give for adding caffeine to soda pop?
Some research has suggested that caffeine may stimulate thermogenesis - a scientific name for the way your body generates heat and energy from the calories in your food; but nutrition experts say that this effect probably isn't enough to produce significant weight-loss. Caffeine may also reduce your desire to eat for a brief time, but again, there's no good evidence over the long-term that this effect leads to weight-loss. To date, no conclusive clinical studies have been done to determine the long-term effect of caffeine on weight loss, and the smaller studies that have been done show a lot of variability in the outcomes.