Caffeine and cannabis have been a longstanding stoner combination. Many of us, myself included, enjoy starting our mornings with a cup of coffee (or tea) and a hit or two. Referred to at times as a “hippie speedball,” caffeine and marijuana complement one another on a seemingly fortuitous level. Although I’ve been both a coffee-addict and a Mary Jane enthusiast for years, I’ve never given this pairing much thought until now. So let’s take a look at the science behind it, and some of the ways you can enjoy this awesome combination.
First let’s do a quick science recap on how cannabis and caffeine perform their magic. The chemical Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) mimics a naturally occurring neurotransmitter called anandamide or “the bliss molecule.” Anandamide is involved in appetite, pain regulation and memory. As THC enters your system, it imitates this important neurotransmitter by binding to the CB1 receptors. Without being able to connect itself to the CB1 receptors, anandamide pools together with dopamine.
Caffeine also blocks a neurotransmitter, called adenosine, by mimicking it and attaching itself to the brain’s adenosine receptors. Adenosine slows down nerve activity and dilates the blood vessels in the brain causing drowsiness. By consuming caffeine, we temporarily halt or at least delay the neurotransmitter. In addition, there are some other sweet side effects to caffeine consumption, including a nice dose of adrenaline and heightened dopamine production.
In unison, caffeine and cannabis create a chemical cocktail that promotes happiness, exhilaration and pain-relief. THC and caffeine’s ability to increase dopamine levels means you’re getting a double dose of what many refer to as the “reward chemical” in your brain.
In a study performed in 2011, a group of male squirrel monkeys were given access to THC and MSX-3, a form of caffeine. If the monkeys pulled one lever they would be dosed with THC, if they pulled another they’d be given MSX-3. Scientists found that the more MSX-3 the monkeys received, the less THC was requested. The researchers concluded that MSX-3 prolonged the effects of the THC (though did not increase the effects), making the monkeys request fewer doses.
THC and caffeine—a definite Bonnie and Clyde of the chemical world. Mixing them seems to be an obvious choice for those of us who enjoy both, and the influx of new products hitting the scene that combines them is certainly a site for stoner eyes. Here are a few ways you can get your fix of both.
Companies like Fairwinds and Skyline Boulevard carry pre-infused cannabis caffeine mixes, and other companies like Jane’s Brew even sell infused coffee for your Keurig machine! You can also add some buzz to your morning joe with medicated milks like those from Waska, or make your own marijuana milk with one of the great recipes available online. Now pre-buzzed, you can find Mocha and Chai Waska. Kiva even makes chocolate covered espresso beans for some caffeine and cannabis on the go. (We invite other regions to edit this paragraph to adapt to their specific region, or we could adapt it, we wanted to give patients some examples of caffeinated medicine available to them.)
If coffee isn’t your favorite method of caffeine consumption, there are marijuana-infused teas on the market, or simply add some cannabis to your tea at home, just make sure your beverage incorporates fat, such as milk, to bind onto. There are even energy drinks that contain cannabis, caffeine and a range of herbs to help you throughout the day.
So now that you know what you’re getting yourself into, try an infusion, smoke a joint and have a shot of espresso, or throw some ganja in with your green tea! You’re guaranteed to get quite the buzz.
Also published on Medium.