Marijuana + Caffeine: Debunking a Popular Myth

WSJ Team July 18, 2012 8

Caffeine is a drug that people all over the world consume every day. It is found in coffee, soft drinks, tea, chocolate, and even some over-the-counter drugs. It is the world’s most popular psychoactive substance, with close to 1.5 billion cups of coffee consumed each day throughout the world. Every year, the global consumption of caffeine has been estimated at about 120 million kilograms, or 264 million pounds.

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and metabolism, resulting in increased feelings of energy, physical and psychological stimulation, increased focus and coordination, and general wakefulness. All of this comes with a number of side-effects that become more prevalent after repeated dosing, which include but are not limited to: restlessness, dehydration, decreased coordination, anxiety, and a lower quality of sleep.

So what about in combination with marijuana?

Caffeine is a white crystalline xanthine alkaloid that belongs exclusively to the stimulant drug group. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is an aromatic terpenoid, a naturally occurring organic chemical that is primarily based in the hallucinogen drug group, but with inherent properties that are associated with both stimulants and depressants. They are both psychoactive drugs that have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and act on the central nervous system, but the two generally affect different parts of the human brain.

It is a common misconception among cannabis users that when caffeine is combined with marijuana, the effects of THC will decrease – in effect, that caffeine “kills” your high. This is simply a myth, but the entire thing is a bit more complex than that. A lot of it depends on the specific individual, as someone who consumes caffeine on a daily basis will not feel its effects as much as someone who hardly touches the stuff. The same applies for marijuana – the lower one’s tolerance to THC, the stronger it will be when used. Varying levels of tolerance can affect one’s own perception of drugs’ effects when used at the same time as other drugs.

There is no evidence available to suggest that caffeine inhibits the effects of THC when used in combination together. Research on the subject has revealed that opioid blockers like naloxone and naloxonazine can act as THC antagonists, as well as methyllycaconitine and nicotine. Tests undertaken by research scientists have proven that THC uptake is reduced when consuming nicotine, and vice versa, nicotine uptake is increased when ingesting THC.

People that drink coffee and smoke weed at the same time can tell you that caffeine does not “kill” highs. Instead, it simply adds its own effects on top of the effects of THC. Drinking a cup of Joe during a smoke session will only make you more alert, concentrated, and energetic. This can serve to add a different dimension to a typical smoke-up, possibly helping to reduce any social anxieties that can occur when under the influence of THC. Be warned, however – caffeine, like all drugs, come with its own nasty side effects!

Take a look at the video below as Gary Wenk, professor of Psychology at The Ohio State University, discusses what happens to our brains as we age and how marijuana and caffeine can stimulate brain functions in positive ways.


The Weed Street Journal


  1. gabriel November 26, 2014 at 11:55 PM - Reply

    Ok first of all I just guinea pigged myself for this.
    First test: smoked a bowl of weed without any coffee, got stoned.

    second test: waited untill sober drank a cup of coffee, waited 30 minutes, I smoked a bowl same sized, I felt slow like usuall but I felt no high, so i smoked more, barely at all high, not really too noticable.
    Third test: waited 2 more hours, smoked a large bowl, I felt no high, my heart feels tense like i drank a large redbull. I have confirmed by testing the theory (stoner myth), and it comes out that it truly is not a myth, it holds truth. atleast with my body type.

    • Nick January 26, 2015 at 9:52 PM - Reply

      Well hallucinogens hit harder on the first round of the day. Try the same experiment with the order reversed and you will see the reverse. Both drugs are dopamine agonists, so you get more effect in those circuits when taken together.

      The seratonin dump when you get stoned uses up a lot of your stored seratonin and sleeping helps refresh that circuit, so the euphoric feeling will be stronger from the first stone of the day.

      The dopamine circuits are a bit more longterm than the seratonin guys. If you drink lots of coffee and smoke lots of weed all day, everyday, you will probably notice a more longlasting destabilization of your system with more significant withdrawl effects when you stop than you would expect from simply quitting caffine or weed separately.
      For comparison: think about bipolar mania as high dopamine levels, and notice the same type of craziness vibe in your stoner friends after any of them goes on long stretch of tokining and coffee drinking. Compare the rambling speech and the strange flavor of elevated mood. There’s a reason many old stoners seem crazy (some psychologists suspect that the significant physical brain damage experienced by long term schizophrenics an effect of long term psychosis from overly active dopamine circuits in the prefrontal cortex, and that these are similar or even the same overactive circuits in bipolar mania–perhaps the same as in the hardcore coffee toting old stoners that we have met who seem somewhat wacky).

  2. tommy April 1, 2015 at 12:15 PM - Reply

    I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t take narcotic prescription drugs or street drugs. I dont use tobacco. I do however drink coffee and smoke weed daily. My favorite thing to do is have a cup of coffee and a bowl of weed in the morning on my back porch. Nothing better for me. I think they mix well together. 🙂

  3. lex May 30, 2015 at 11:22 AM - Reply

    it’s finals week at my school and i have to pull all nighters pretty much everyday. yesterday i woke up and was running on almost zero hours of sleep, so i made myself four cups of coffee to get myself going and before I left for school I smoked a little bit. at school I notice that my high was more powerful and I found myself being more hyperactive than I usually am when I smoke. that night I decided another all nighter was necessary and drank five more cups of coffee. I would normally just get adderall to keep myself sharp but I couldn’t get ahold of any this particular day. it was 4 or so and I needed to get to sleep so I smoked so that I could chill until I fell asleep. when I got up I immediately started tripping out and panicked myself. my heart was beating faster than it ever has before and when I tried to calm myself it made it worse. I drank some water and laid down to try and lower my heart rate and when I did I felt like someone was grabbing my throat and choking me, then I started shaking ferociously (I always get cold when I’m high so it’s expected) but it was feeling like what I assume a seizure feels like. and that freaked me out. eventually that bad trip mellowed out and I started feeling good. I felt like I was dying. I never have bad trips, I’m always happy when I smoke but I know there was multiple factors involved in experiencing a bad trip.

    • James September 19, 2015 at 2:19 PM - Reply

      Hey lex sounds like you had a panic attack.most likely because of your lack of sleep combined with the weed and caffeine.take it easy rest when you can and be safe.

  4. Brandon January 13, 2016 at 4:29 PM - Reply

    Espresso and dabs are a great way to start the day!

  5. dave May 25, 2016 at 2:24 AM - Reply

    I woke up today and still I was high whats the best way to reduce,,,,,because coffee its just a stimulant

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