Caffeine and weed are go-to substances for many, producing interesting results when mixed. A lot has been said about mixing weed and energy drinks or other caffeinated drinks, especially now that various companies are producing products that contain both. Even before cannabis was embraced by the mainstream, enthusiasts of the drug would find creative ways to mix the two elements by combining coffee and cannabis oil. But is this combination safe?
Marijuana and Its Effects
Also known as marijuana or weed, cannabis is a cannabinoid drug that’s derived from the cannabis plant, of which there are various kinds. The drug contains 113 different cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol and 120 terpenes, which allow the drug to have various psychological and physiological effects.
The two main types of properties that most people are familiar with are the psychoactive cannabinoid THC (delta9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD). Simply put, CBD is the compound in marijuana that’s responsible for the drug’s relaxing effects, while THC is responsible for psychological and physiological side effects like euphoria, anxiety, hallucinations, and more.
Because it contains THC, marijuana stimulates the part of the brain that responds to pleasurable activities, such as having sex and eating. THC activates the release of a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) called dopamine, which is linked to mood, pleasure, reward, and motivation, among other functions.
People may smoke dried cannabis leaves, brew them as tea, or bake them into foods like pastries. There are also products called dabs, which are smoked with electronic cigarettes or vape pens.
Caffeine and Its Effects
Caffeine is a naturally occurring central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that’s known to block the action of adenosine on receptors, preventing drowsiness and increasing energy. Caffeine naturally occurs in various substances, including coffee beans, tea leaves, kola nuts, and cacao pods.
There’s also synthetic caffeine, which is sometimes used in medicines, foods, and drinks. For instance, some pain relievers, cold medicines, and over-the-counter medications for energy contain synthetic caffeine.
Energy drinks like Bang and Red Bull, as well as energy-boosting gums and snacks, also contain synthetic caffeine. The amount of caffeine can vary depending on the drink, sometimes ranging from 95 to 200 milligrams (mg).
Caffeine has various side effects on the body, including:
- Increased energy
- Decreased drowsiness and sleepiness
- Inhibited calcium absorption
- Increased blood pressure
As with anything, there is such a thing as having too much caffeine. Signs of a caffeine overload include:
- Shakiness or jitteriness
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Rapid heart rate
- Dependency (needing more of it to experience the same effects or to prevent headaches and other side effects)
What Happens When You Mix Weed and Caffeine?
While caffeine and marijuana produce their own side effects, what happens when you combine them? Caffeine and THC-containing products like marijuana are popular compounds among many, so people likely consume both substances.
According to older studies, THC in cannabis was shown to negatively affect short-term memory in rats, while caffeine was shown to improve short-term memory. The preclinical study also looked at the combined effects of caffeine and weed in rats and found that caffeine worsened the memory deficits caused by low doses of THC.1
As a result, a combination of low doses of marijuana and caffeine produced memory deficits equivalent to those that occurred when the rats took high doses of THC alone. Additionally, caffeine didn’t seem to reverse the deficits in memory caused by THC.1
Furthermore, because caffeine acts as a stimulant and cannabis can lead to either stimulation or inhibition, the effects of both may vary from person to person. Some people have reported increased anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, and other undesirable side effects of marijuana use, so the combined effects of caffeinated products like coffee and cannabis can be unpredictable.
Even so, based on their individual effects, possible side effects of caffeine and weed include:
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Disorientation or confusion
- Impaired judgment
- Upset stomach
While more studies on their combined effects are needed, researchers have also suggested that mixing THC and caffeine may produce significant side effects due to the interaction of adenosine and cannabinoid systems, which are where caffeine and cannabis act in the body.2
These researchers propose that the interaction between the two substances may occur in the hippocampus, the part of the brain where receptors for both the adenosine and cannabinoid systems are located. The hippocampus is a region of the brain that plays a major role in learning and memory.2
Therefore, caffeine is believed to promote cognitive impairment when combined with the THC found in cannabis. While this mechanism may explain the risks of combining cannabis and caffeine, further studies are required for a legitimate confirmation.
Help for Cannabis Addiction
Weed and caffeine seem to have opposite effects on memory, the former producing more harm than the latter. Also, because marijuana can produce various effects, the combined impact of the two drugs may lead to unpredictable side effects.
On another note, long-term marijuana abuse can be harmful and lead to addictive behavior. Although cannabis isn’t addictive in the same way that opioids or stimulants are, a person can become dependent on the drug for emotional or physical support, eventually finding themselves unable to function happily or properly without it.
There’s also a matter of synthetic weed, a substance that’s been growing more popular as drug dealers become more creative with their production tactics. Drugs sold on the streets, including weed, are often laced with other harmful chemicals that can increase the risk of adverse side effects like overdose and even death.
If you or someone you know is hooked on weed or other drugs or alcohol, now is the time to get help. Our Pennsylvania drug rehab offers marijuana addiction treatment that incorporates medical detox and individual and group therapy to help clients heal both physically and mentally.
We also offer other forms of substance-specific Pennsylvania addiction treatment, including treatment for alcohol addiction, stimulant abuse, and more. If you or someone you love has a substance abuse problem, don’t wait any longer to seek support.
Call Clearbrook Treatment Centers today at 570-536-9621 for more information about our services.
- National Library of Medicine – Combined effects of THC and caffeine on working memory in rats
- ResearchGate – Caffeine and Adenosine Receptor Modulation of Cannabinoid Influence Upon Cognitive Function