Coffee and weed seem like a pair matched in heaven. Perfect for a wake-and-bake, the idea is that a person will get both the psychoactive effects of cannabis and the energy of coffee. There’s also a mix of pleasant aromas and tastes that offers promise as a fine pairing, similar to wine and cheese.
As it stands, however, coffee and weed have not achieved that natural fit. The combination has to be taken with caution, as the science is still coming in with regard to how the two interact.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, for example, investigated the impact of a caffeine-like substance on squirrel monkeys predisposed to THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that causes cannabis’ psychoactive effect. The results suggest that caffeine enhances the effects of THC, but also increases the desire for cannabis.
One of the study’s authors, Sergio Ferré, a National Health Institutes investigator, has also studied the impact of caffeine and THC on rats. His 2012 report in the British Journal of Pharmacology concluded that “caffeine did not counteract memory deficits induced by THC, but actually exacerbated them.”
Both caffeine and cannabis increase dopamine levels in the brain, Ferré explained in an interview with Live Science, so when taken together, caffeine can magnify the effect of dopamine from the cannabis.
“Caffeine increases tremendously the effects of a psycho-stimulant, including THC and cocaine,” Dr. Ferre said. “So, any substance that releases dopamine, including THC, its effects are increased by caffeine.”
Last year, a study by researchers at Northwestern University also found that, like marijuana, caffeine binds to the neurotransmitters related to the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Unlike cannabis, though, the more coffee subjects drank, the less impact it had on the ECS.
While the science is still in progress, the chemical interaction of caffeine and THC should be respected. Ferré told Live Science he believes caffeine “is not good, at any dose, to associate with THC.” Consider taking it slow and easy if planning to mix these substances.
For those who do want to proceed, the best way to enjoy coffee with cannabis is a wake-and-bake followed by productive activities—say, working on that portfolio or a script?—to take advantage of their combined effect.
One option would be to use a hybrid strain of cannabis to balance the stimulating effect of the coffee. Or consider pairing flavours to compliment each other: An earthy cannabis strain such as Chocolope, for instance, should pair well with a bold coffee.
Next, determine preparation. For the coffee, try a method that gets the most out of its flavour. A stovetop espresso maker, a French press or pour over should do the trick.
For the cannabis, up to you: smoking a joint or vaping to make the most of your cannabis’ flavour.
When cannabis edibles become legal in Canada, there is also potential for a thriving coffee shop scene similar to the cafes of Amsterdam. Tokyo Smoke—which currently has cafes in Toronto and in Calgary, as well as dispensaries in Manitoba—already sells both coffee and cannabis, although not in the same locations.
“When we looked at creating community, eradicating stigma and creating an approachable home for people to learn about cannabis and cannabis culture, the first thing that comes to mind is a coffee shop,” says Josh Lyon, the company’s vice president of marketing. “[Cafes are] a nice way for us to present cannabis and cannabis culture in a way that people are comfortable with.”
Lyon believes “social consumption lounges” will eventually come to Canada as well. “If you look at Amsterdam and the popularity of the coffee shop culture there, it’s a potentially good indicator that there will be interest.”
Greencamp.com is an educational website dedicated to shedding the light on many unexplored sides of medical and recreational cannabis. Aside from informing people of safe cannabis use, Greencamp also provides technology for finding optimal cannabis treatment.
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