Are you a coffee pot head?
While many may disagree, we think that use of cannabis and coffee can lead to a healthy and happy lifestyle. Think about it for a second…
What is the world’s most used psychoactive substance? According to this review and many other articles, the answer is unambiguous: caffeine! We don’t normally associate the invigorating aromatic beverage with what are more commonly classified as psychoactive substances; but by all widely accepted criteria, it fits the bill.
The definition of a psychoactive substance is purposely vague – seeing as mental phenomenology is itself so nebulous and difficult to pin down – and merely consists in anything that induces a change in the psyche.
It is fairly uncontroversial that ingesting caffeine induces such changes, predominantly in the enhancement of various cognitive faculties and the postponement of the need for sleep (due to its action as a blocker of adenosine, the neurotransmitter that signals drowsiness). Some users even report an improvement in mood, and this has been explained in conjunction with its generally cognitive enhancement effects.
Now, let’s turn to a different psychoactive substance, one which enjoys markedly less worldwide legality, despite being remarkably popular and socially accepted. I am of course now referring to cannabis. Statistics based on self reported use of this substance in the US have been steadily increasing, as shown by this recent Gallup poll.
Moreover, support for legalization of this illustrious plant has also risen nearly to the point of a crescendo. So, as the vast droves of marijuana users slowly slink out of the shadows and begin to enjoy social acceptance of their lifestyle choice, perhaps it would be appropriate to pose the question as to what constitutes responsible and reasonable use of this highly important plant.
This is an appropriate moment to briefly discuss the results of a massive international study led by researchers at University of California, Davis that just concluded and was recently published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science (reported on here). This is a very noteworthy study and ought to be carefully looked into – we will probably dedicate an entire blog post to it at some point in the near future.
The exhaustive study followed a cohort of 1037 children born in 1972-3 (called the Dunedin cohort) for approximately 4 decades and controlled for a wide range of covariates that may have confounded results of earlier studies. This study reports that persistence of regular use of cannabis, defined as use in 4 days of every week, was singularly responsible for downward social mobility, after controlling for the effects of many other factors. We urge you to read this article and come to your own conclusions.
For the purpose of this post, we simply wish to highlight the fact that while the jury is still out regarding the long-term consequences of regular cannabis use, there are at least indications that it may not be financially good for you, although there are by now several high profile studies showing no negative health consequences (2012; 2014).
The question as to how to use cannabis responsibly remains a highly pertinent one. For those of us that choose to toke on a daily basis, we may well wonder whether our habit is holding us back and how best to regulate this behavioral pattern.
We consider cannabis and coffee to be natural and potentially synergistic when used together.
There is a persistent social stereotype of the lazy stoner (see this hilarious anti-pot campaign fail) that poses a burden on their families and society at large, and who passes the day in permanent couch-locked zombie mode. Most of us can hopefully brush this complaint aside and point to how together our shit is despite medicating daily, but as the study above seems to show, this is not the case for everyone.
Perhaps it could be argued that it is the overuse of cannabis that causes these notable negative effects, and not merely any amount of use. It is clear that cannabis has a pacifying effect on us, rendering us content with our situation, which at the extremes can turn into a motivation-killing laziness-inducing hazard. It is not hard to see how the downward social mobility can be a consequence.
However, those of us with no shortage of ambition and drive are often in great need of a medicine to help mitigate the consequences of an overactive mind. Ultimately, how much use is to be considered overuse will be a personal consideration as each one of us is a unique individual with a unique chemical makeup.
A similar, but opposite argument, can be made for coffee. If abused, coffee has many notable negative health consequences. From the purely physical (arterial stiffness; a moderate increase in the risk for hypertension) to the mental (association with anxiety disorders; insomnia), it is clear that overuse of caffeine has also been associated with negative outcomes.
Yet despite that, most people are perfectly able to regulate their use of this very important substance and keep it within reasonable limits. The argument that is being advanced here is that a similar thing is possible with cannabis, and moreover, that the two are able to form a natural alliance that can bring balance and harmony to one’s lifestyle, given that the use is regulated and that the proper boundaries are observed.
Caffeine is helpful in building motivation and focus, and therefore increases productive output and helps to get one’s brain moving in the early morning hours and throughout the work day. But, just like the wind up toy that has been wound too tightly, there is an inherent risk in working too hard, for too long, while too caffeinated. And therefore, in the second part of the daily existence, it is highly important to find a way to release that strain that has been built up during the day. Many choose alcohol as the nightly relaxation aid to take the edge off. But, those of us in the know would argue that there is a better alternative.
A few tokes at the end of the day are an unparalleled way to gracefully transition the mind from its productive wound up state to its content relaxed state. In the former, alertness and focus are preferred and dominate the daytime work hours. But at the end of the day, one needs to sleep and replenish energy, all of which would be impossible if this hyper-active and productive state of mind persisted. That is why cannabis becomes so helpful if its daily use is restricted to this situation. The most important aspect of this happy marriage of substances is the maintenance of the boundaries between them.
In other words, the effectiveness of their dual use is maximized when they are the mirrors of each other, with caffeine used during one part of the day, and cannabis used in the other. In this way, a harmonious oscillation develops in one’s daily life where the ups and downs are made to resonate with the infusions of these small but powerful pushes in their respective directions, with caffeine to push us up to produce to our potential, and cannabis to pull us back down to earth (or more likely, our couches and beds) and help us to rejuvenate ourselves before the next morning.
Many consumers like the combination of smoking cannabis and drinking coffee simultaneously. There are also strains which are either quite energizing or may exhibit a coffee aroma.
For example, Green Crack is often said to be a marijuana strain whose effects match the invigorating mental energy provided by espresso. Perhaps this strain makes a great pairing with a good ol’ cup of Joe.
In 2011, A study on the interplay between caffeine and THC was performed on squirrel monkeys. They found that monkeys who typically self-administered THC would take less THC when they were exposed to more caffeine.
There are two important takeaways from this study. First, it seems that caffeine intake led to these monkeys not to crave THC as much. In other words, it seems that increase caffeine intake may decrease one’s dependence on cannabis.
Second, when the monkeys were given time to sober up, and then they were reintroduced to either THC or THC with caffeine, the monkeys tended to take the mix of the two more often. This part of the study suggests that mixing marijuana with caffeine may be more addictive than either on their own.
One possible message to take away from this study is to argue that cannabis and caffeine together are even more dangerous and addictive than either on their own. For whatever reason though, our country has no stigma for caffeine addictions. The perceived productivity gains seem to outweigh the negatives associated with caffeine addiction, which often times include mild headaches from withdrawals.
Perhaps both cannabis and coffee are best enjoyed in tandem.
Another, more positive, message is to recognize that habitual use of the two may help curb the negatives of each. While coffee may help with productivity, it can often leave people feeling on edge and irritable. On the other hand, cannabis is known for being quite relaxing and calming.
Together, cannabis and coffee allow for a consumer to help manage their productivity and stress throughout the day. Perhaps alternating between the two substances leads to less dependence on one substance alone. Often times, the negative effects are onset after larger doses, so if drinking coffee tends to lead to less THC use, then maybe this would also lead to less side effects from smoking cannabis.
Of course, we are not here to condone or to condemn the use of any one substance or the other. But if you are now reading this then it is safe to presume that you probably have some experience with the substances discussed above. So, we hope that you will consider the various pieces of evidence that have been collected and come to your own conclusions.
We merely wished to comment on the appealing symmetry that can be observed between two of the most popular psychoactive chemicals in use today. We have found it to be a helpful practice to regulate the use of cannabis by allowing it to trade roles with caffeine at different points during the day. But, this may not be applicable to everyone, and we always urge you to consult with your doctor for what would be best for you.