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Weed and Caffeine: What’s the Link?

Many cannabis users like to “wake and bake,” starting their day with a dose of THC. Others prefer to perk up with a cup of joe. But what if you combine the two? Mixing weed and caffeine can have a variety of effects, both positive and negative.

Caffeine 101

Caffeine is a chemical compound found in a variety of foods and drinks. It occurs naturally in many plants but can also be added to processed products to give them an extra jolt.

What Does It Do?

For most people, caffeine is a stimulant or “upper.” It’s used to provide energy and focus. Many people drink caffeinated beverages in the morning to help them wake up and prepare for the day. It helps to raise your blood pressure and heart rate and stimulate the central nervous system to increase energy and improve alertness. In addition to a morning jolt, some people use caffeine as a supplement or treatment for migraines, depression, or low blood pressure or to improve athletic performance or mental acuity. 

Like any drug, caffeine can be overconsumed. Negative side effects of too much caffeine may include panic attacks or anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, chest pain, or headaches. Knowing your personal tolerance can help avoid or mediate these effects.

Caffeine affects people differently. Some may have a higher or lower tolerance for its stimulant effects. It can even have the opposite effect on some people, such as those with ADHD, serving more as a sedative. Before combining it with any other drug, you should always know how caffeine will affect you personally.

Where Is It Found?

Caffeine is found in a lot of products today. You probably think of it most being in beverages such as coffee, tea, or energy drinks, but plenty of foods and drinks contain natural caffeine or have caffeine added to them.

You might be surprised to find caffeine in foods such as chocolate. The higher the cacao content, the more caffeine it contains, so extra dark chocolates pack the biggest punch. White chocolate is typically decaf, as it doesn’t contain actual cacao. Protein or energy bars also often contain caffeine to give you a boost when working out. Many sodas contain added caffeine as well. Caffeine may also appear in some pain relievers, particularly those targeted at headaches or migraines.

If you’re trying to cut out caffeine entirely, be aware that decaf coffee is not 100% caffeine-free. The FDA only requires 97% of the caffeine to be removed to be labeled as decaf, meaning it may still contain an average of 2–15 mg per 8 oz. serving, depending on the type and roast.

Combining Cannabis and Coffee

Because studies on cannabis, in general, are fairly limited due to most legalization being so recent, it’s hard to give a concrete answer to how caffeine and weed interact with one another. Though there have been some animal studies we can look at, strict regulations on human trials make them few and far between.

One study on the combined effects of THC and caffeine on working memory in rats showed that although caffeine alone improves working memory and THC alone impairs it, the combination doesn’t cancel out as expected. Instead, the caffeine seemed to exacerbate the effects of THC, impairing memory even at lower doses.

On the other hand, studies show that mixing cannabis and caffeine has a positive effect on dopamine production. A 2017 study found that rats given both cannabis and caffeine produced more dopamine compared to those given even higher doses of only one or the other.

You’ll probably have to do some trial and error to see whether the combo works for you. It’s still unclear whether the combination is generally safe, as studies are still limited. Both substances affect everyone differently and may produce varying results. Here are some tips on how to safely test your own reaction to the mix.

Tips for Mixing Weed and Caffeine

Mixing drugs can have some unexpected side effects. Follow these tips to make your cannabis and coffee experience as smooth as possible.

Start Slow

You should always start slow when combining drugs of any kind, even prescriptions, with your cannabis. If it’s going to cause any adverse side effects, it’s better to find out at a lower dose, where it might be less severe, than at full strength.

Start with a lower dose of both weed and caffeine than you’re used to, and be sure to give it some time to kick in before you add more. For inhalant methods such as smoking, vaping, or dabbing, you’ll probably be at the max effect within about 30 minutes, around the same time the coffee will probably kick in. 

It may take much longer if you’re using edibles or tinctures since they have to pass through the digestive system first. For store-bought products, the activation time may be on the package, but if your edibles are homemade or unlabeled, a good rule of thumb is to wait at least an hour and a half to be sure they’ve reached their full effectiveness before adding more.

Know Your Tolerance for Both

Before using cannabis or caffeine, either separately or combined, you should know your tolerances for both. Each of them can have negative side effects if you take too much, and those effects can be exacerbated by combining them. Since every person’s tolerance is unique, you can’t base your dose on what other people are taking, especially if you’re inexperienced with one or both substances.

If you don’t often use weed or drink coffee, start by using them independently to figure out what your limit is. Once you know what dose of each feels good, you can start mixing them. Again, start slow — well below your max tolerance — since the effects might compound when they’re combined.

Consider Your Desired High

Think about the kind of high you want. If you’re looking to energize and focus, you’ll want to combine a different strain of marijuana with your coffee than if you’re hoping to chill out. Even though caffeine is a stimulant, that doesn’t mean you can only have an energetic high with it. Some preliminary trials suggest that combining caffeine with high-CBD strains may enhance the calming effect of CBD, while higher levels of THC can lead to a more energetic high or bursts of hyperactivity.

Reduce Your Use

Since cannabis and coffee can enhance each other’s effects, you may find you need less of both to get the same results. This may be a good chance to reduce your use and give your tolerance a break.

Get Some Pot for Your Coffee at DDM Cannabis

If you’re looking for the right strain of weed to add to your morning joe, the expert budtenders at DDM Cannabis can help you. Our Blackstone, MA, shop near the Rhode Island border carries a unique mix of products to ensure there’s something for everyone. Stop by and browse or place an online order to get everything you need.

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