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What happens when you mix coffee with pot? While there’s been little research to back it up yet, some experts are warning that drinking cannabis-infused coffee may not give you quite the mellow buzz you’re expecting. Since several of the states started legalizing marijuana sales, the list of edible pot goodies has been growing. It was only a matter of time before someone decided to combine two of the world’s favorite psychoactive drugs into one glorious mug – and quite a few someones have done exactly that. You can now buy cannabis-infused coffee from a number of marketers, including House of Jane, whose Jane’s Brew Gourmet Cannabis Infused Coffee won a Connoisseurs Choice Award at HempCon 2015, and Pot-o-Coffee, which offers their brew in handy K-cups and pods.
The companies claim that adding pot to coffee adds a buzz to your cup of joe, but what actually happens when you combine marijuana and caffeine?
The truth is that no one is really sure, but it might be a problem, according to Dr. Scott Krakower, who is the assistant unit chief of psychiatry at a New Hyde Park, NY hospital. He warns that using two drugs in combination can always be a potential problem. That’s because drugs often interact, with one magnifying or suppressing the effects of the other – and sometimes combining to produce a completely unexpected effect.
Krakower told Live Science, an online consumer science magazine, that there have been a few animal studies that suggest caffeine and THC – the psychoactive component in marijuana – “would mix, neuro-chemically.” In essence, when you take caffeine and marijuana together, you might get unexpected results. Among other things, Krakower says, research suggests that caffeine and pot together could actually make your working memory worse, which is the exact opposite of the effect caffeine usually has on your brain. Somehow, the two chemicals seem to interact in a way that not only negates the memory-enhancement effect of caffeine, it actually seems to make your short-term memory … shorter.
In addition, caffeine and marijuana have almost directly opposite effects on the central nervous system: caffeine is a stimulant and marijuana is a depressant. That’s why caffeine makes you feel wired, while pot generally mellows you out. Some pharmaceutical products combine stimulants and depressants to keep you awake without giving you a jangly nervy feeling. But what happens when you drink cannabis-infused coffee?
Most likely, Krakower says, the user will probably feel wired and tired at the same time – a combination that sounds rather annoyingly like that feeling you get when you’ve been awake too long, but can’t settle down to sleep.
As far as thinking that you could get high and stay sober at the same time, Krakower added, it doesn’t work that way. Coffee won’t cancel out the pot high any more than drinking coffee will sober up a person who is drunk. You know how that one goes, right? If you give coffee to a drunk person, you’ll just have a wide-awake drunk person.
While the possibly harmful cognitive effects of combining pot and caffeine are concerning, there are other concerns that extend beyond ingesting cannabis-infused coffee. The legalization of marijuana has brought a lot of entrepreneurs into the market to sell edible cannabis products, and many experts are concerned that those may lead people to consume more THC than they actually intended to take.
The marijuana high feels different when you ingest the drug than when you smoke it, experts say. The onset is slower – sometimes taking up to two hours to fully manifest. Consumers, thinking that they simply haven’t taken enough, may eat more, which can make the effects both more intense, and longer-lasting.
In addition, a 2015 study published in JAMA notes that of 75 edible marijuana products tested by researchers, only 13 of them accurately stated the levels of THC in the product, so consumers may be starting off with the wrong dosage information to begin with – and can’t accurately predict how much THC they’re getting from brand to another.
Proceed with caution. As with anything else, know your supplier and only ingest products from producers you trust. Start with a low dose and be patient. And, to quote directly from the cautions for use on the Pot-O-Coffee website, “Cannabis and cannabis edible products will impair your coordination, concentration, and judgment. Do not operate any and all machinery or drive any and all vehicles under the influence of cannabis.”