Words by Andrew Holmes
Photography by Heather Ramsay
If I were to gather ten of my friends who consume cannabis and ten of my friends who don’t, I wouldn’t be surprised if more of my cannabis friends enjoyed caffeine than those who didn’t. That’s not surprising at all. Caffeine and marijuana affect the brain in different ways, but their euphoric effects on the body complement each other. But what is it about THC and caffeine that makes us love them both so much?
Let’s talk scientifically for a second. Caffeine affects the brain by blocking adenosine– the chemical in the brain that lets you know you’re tired. It’s the same compound that – once built up enough – causes you to yawn, even if you’re not feeling tired. Caffeinated drinks block the adenosine receptors in your brain, ‘eliminating’ your sleepiness and unlocking more of your awake potential. Therefore, more coffee = more awesome.
Cannabis works a bit differently. When THC floods the endocannabinoid system, it temporarily inhibits the communication of neurons, creating the delayed effects the body experiences after consuming marijuana. The euphoric effect of cannabis comes from the increase of dopamine and subsequent decrease of serotonin in the nucleus accumbens– the parts of the brain that affect mood. While you’re not quite getting a lot done, you’re definitely in a better head space on cannabis.
So why do so many marijuana enthusiasts like caffeine as well? Naturally, they both affect the way our brain handles day-to-day activities. With coffee in hand, we feel like we could take on the world. How many “But first, coffee” memes do you see across the internet? We feel more alert, more energetic, and caffeine has been shown to increase productivity. Cannabis, on the other hand, helps us feel like we’re more in tune with ourselves. We understand its working intricacies that much better, enabling us to see the world in a different way than we do sober. If you combine those two euphoric effects, it seems like anything is possible! There is, however, some science to suggest that using marijuana in combination with coffee has the potential to enhance the addictive nature of caffeine and THC. Caffeine can also significantly increase the adverse memory loss effects that come from consuming THC. Combine wisely.
Personally, the reason I enjoy both coffee and herb is the “act of preparation.” I’m a creature of habit; I like specific things done specific ways. I take special care when it comes to both my cannabis and my caffeine. Whether I’m standing in the grocery store – staring at the multitude of roasts and blends of coffee and tea – or talking to my guy about what strains he happens to have at the time (yes, I do indeed live in a prohibition state), I take my time. I weigh my options carefully. Which flavor profile am I seeking? Do I want to be mildly awake or bouncing off the ceiling? What projects do I have for the day? These are all crucial elements I have to consider with both my coffee and my herb.
Most mornings start with a careful measuring of coffee grounds in my French press. Then, the right amount of water is added to let the flavor bloom, allowing it to brew my cup of joe to perfection. The same goes for my consumption of marijuana. Whether I’ve packed a quick vape bowl pre-photo shoot, or am meticulously rolling a joint for an afternoon with friends, the same amount of care goes into its planning. I find both things to be exponentially more enjoyable after I’ve taken the utmost care in preparing them.
So if you were to ask my non-cannabis friends why they enjoyed the buzz of a caffeinated drink and then explained that you could achieve a similar “feel” without the dependency that grows from caffeine by using cannabis, you’d probably get a few laughs. However, those who know what good coffee is – and what it can do to your soul – might think twice about what cannabis could mean to them. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my latte’s on the bar.