But what happens when you combine the drugs, and are there possible dangers?
A company called Cannabiniers recently tapped into the trend with the launch of Brewbudz, which are cannabis-infused coffee, tea and cocoa pods that pop into any Keurig coffee brewer. [25 Odd Facts About Marijuana]
A 2012 study in rats, also by Ferre and colleagues, showed that combining caffeine with marijuana worsened the memory problems induced. The effect is likely to be particularly acute in teens, because their brains are still developing, Ferre said.
Indeed, one reason why people may like the combination of marijuana and caffeine so much is that caffeine can magnify the effects of dopamine released by marijuana.
Ferre and colleagues published a 2014 study in The Journal of Neuroscience that tested the effects of combining THC with a compound called MSX-3 that mimics some of the effects of caffeine. In experiments on squirrel monkeys that were addicted to THC, the researchers measured whether a range of doses of the caffeine-like compound influenced the monkey’s likelihood to give themselves more hits of THC.
Caffeine exerts its effects by blocking receptors in the brain for a neurotransmitter called adenosine, Ferre told Live Science. Adenosine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning that it blocks other neurotransmitters that excite the neurons; its activity thus leads to feelings of fatigue. So, by blocking adenosine, caffeine changes peoples’ moods and leaves them feeling more alert and awake.
“Caffeine increases tremendously the effects of a psychostimulant, including THC and cocaine,” Ferre said. “So, any substance that releases dopamine, including THC, its effects are increased by caffeine.”
“The worst is with kids,” Ferre said. “Caffeine can be a really powerful drug that can have strong effects on a developing brain.”
Another cause for concern is that adding caffeine may worsen the memory impairment commonly associated with using marijuana, he said.
As marijuana use becomes more common, so may using the drug together with caffeine. But what do we know about the health effects of mixing weed and a cup of joe?
There’s also the issue of taking a stimulant (caffeine) and a depressant (marijuana) at the same time, he said.
The effects of using these two substances in combination have not been heavily researched, said Dr. Scott Krakower, the assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New Hyde Park, New York. But using two drugs in combination can always potentially be a problem, he said.
In addition, labels on products containing THC may not be accurate. In a 2015 study published in JAMA, researchers found that only 13 out of 75 edible marijuana products had labels that accurately listed the product’s levels of THC.
For example, it appears that the combination of caffeine and THC (the compound in marijuana responsible for its psychoactive effects) may worsen a person’s working memory, Krakower said. This is counterintuitive, as other research suggests that caffeine may contain cognitive-enhancing properties, he said. There seems to be some sort of compounding when the two chemicals are taken together that works against you, he said.
There is some evidence from lab and animal studies that suggests that taken together, caffeine and marijuana “would mix, neuro-chemically,” Krakower told Live Science. In other words, they would have different effects when used together then you’d expect from looking at the effects that each compound has when used alone.
But what happens when you combine two psychoactive substances: marijuana and caffeine?
You can now add coffee to the growing list of foods and drinks that are available as products infused with marijuana.
Much more research is needed into the subject, however, Krakower added. [The Drug Talk: 7 New Tips for Today’s Parents]
Several companies have started selling cannabis-laced coffee, claiming to give users an added “buzz” to their cup of joe.
Several companies are selling marijuana-laced coffee. What happens when a person takes a combination of these two psychoactive substances?