Much has already been written about caffeine and pot, with many companies now developing beverages that blend both. Even before marijuana was fully embraced by the mass market, avid fans of cannabis have been discovering creative ways of combining the two, often by incorporating cannabis into potpourri or butter or oil and then blending it into the coffee. While these beverages do produce effects similar to cannabis, the active ingredient found in cannabis is still significantly more potent, resulting in a much more potent brew. The same goes for coffee and caffeine; while some strains may be lower in potency than others, the caffeine in coffee can still be much more potent than that of cannabis.
This has created a new dilemma for health care providers and patients. On one hand, we know that caffeine from pot may not be dangerous if consumed in moderation. But what about cannabis? Is there a limit as to how much of it a patient can ingest? Are there any adverse side effects of caffeine and cannabis? If so, can this fact be used against them in court?
There have been several studies done on both caffeine and cannabis that address the issue of alertness. A common question is whether or not certain doses of caffeine are harmless. A group of researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder did some simple research on the subject, examining the effects of caffeine on people who were working under increased mental alertness as well as those who were alert but not hyperactive.
They found that the combined effects of marijuana and caffeine were greater than the effects of caffeine alone. Not only were there no side effects to the caffeine cannabis combo, but they also noted that the patients did not feel any less alert as a result. This was particularly true when the researchers gave the subjects a placebo instead of caffeine. In this case, the placebo did exactly what the patient would expect to feel: made them feel better.
In a related study published in the Journal of Medical Science, researchers at the University of California-Davis experimented on healthy adults. Again, they gave random doses of either placebo or marijuana. After taking the placebo, those subjects who took marijuana experienced a slight increase in their alertness (by roughly ten percent). The amount of increase varied between individuals, however, and only those in the middle were able to detect a difference. Because this was only a placebo study, however, the researchers were not able to come to any conclusion as to whether marijuana or caffeine is more potent than placebo in raising alertness.
While there is still much to learn, what is known so far shows that there may be some truth to the popular notion that combining caffeine with marijuana can produce a helpful side effect. But as with many things in life, moderation is key. Just like wine, certain combinations of substances can lead to unpleasant interactions if used too frequently. For most of us, a small, one-off dose of something like a cup of coffee or tea is perfectly acceptable in helping to reduce our general anxiety levels, but combining caffeine and marijuana is probably best avoided.