What do you think about doing first thing when you open your eyes in the morning?
- Wakeup: Drinking a wake up cup of morning coffee?
- Rollout: Having a little cannabis bake-up morning?
Or like myself and many cannabis consumers, are you thinking about a “wake and bake”-themed morning which combines your love of the two C’s: coffee and cannabis. It means to consume coffee for the waking up while simultaneously “baking,” or using cannabis for balancing your mind and body before you start the day — and it has evolved into an improving, strengthening, and vital part of my morning ritual. However, should it be?
The Matter of Context and Science
If we look at the science of how caffeinated coffee and cannabis work in your brain, there is not only one answer as to whether cannabis + coffee = a healthy mix. It is, and conversely, it isn’t.
Caffeine and cannabinoids have several opposing effects on the body’s physical and mental states. Low doses of caffeine most likely do not affect CBD, but some of its anti-inflammatory and sedation effects may be diminished.
Conversely, high intake of caffeine can intensify memory impairment because of interactions in the brain at the adenosine receptors where brain signaling, or transmission, occurs.
Since it is a stimulant that is weakly inhibited by THC and CBD, one might expect the caffeine to overpower and dominate the cannabinoids; however, the interaction of your morning wake and bake ingredients is actually not so simple nor straightforward.
While caffeine activates the sympathetic nervous system intrinsic to our body’s stress-response, THC mitigates or quells many of the effects of human stress. So the brain is confused by opposing signals from the caffeine and the THC.
Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine have profound impact on sleep amount and the quality of your sleep, such as sleep disturbances or dysfunction of sleep rhythms.
Caffeine also “amplifies memory impairment caused by THC. And this effect may be specific to short-term memory,” according to Project CBD. They continue:
“In cases where cannabis is used to ease trauma, caffeine drinkers may end up benefiting by combining the herb or its components with a cup of Joe. But this might not be the case with a stressed employee who drinks coffee to get through the day. A few preliminary studies have shown that drinking coffee occasionally or frequently had the same effect: both amplified THC’s ability to temporarily weaken memory.”
On the other hand, mild or low doses of THC have mild sedative effects that manifest as a decrease in sleep onset, or going to sleep earlier, and on early onset of REM sleep. Plus THC has been shown to increase total sleep time and slow wave sleep.
In high doses, THC can have hallucinatory action in a dream state in addition to decreased REM sleep. Again early sleep onset, or going to bed earlier and increase in total sleep time, has been documented.
Like caffeine, low doses of THC can temporarily excite memory function and productivity, while high doses of both caffeine and THC slow down or inhibit neural synapses and neurotransmission in the hippocampus and frontal cortex — where some of the main memory centers that we discussed earlier are concentrated.
Coffee or caffeine and cannabis have equally addictive properties in addition to memory impairment. In fact, cannabis abstinence shows fewer withdrawal symptoms than caffeine abstinence!
The Matter of Context and Perception
In his straightforward Cannabis Discourse, Jacob Levine reminds us that this nation is 100% copacetic with »using, »overusing, and »repeatedly using legal, regulated substances, such as the societally-acceptable coffee, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and sugar.
The problem, rather, lies in the context of cannabis use:
“We need to rethink our perception of drugs and substances in general. We humans have always used drugs and will use drugs well into the foreseeable future, whether for medical, recreational, or spiritual purposes. The main issue we have with drugs is not the drugs in and of themselves, but the context of their uses.”
Our own preconceived thoughts concerning “drugs” and how we view drugs within our culture and in the role of national healthcare is skewed. We must make the individual context shift discussed for ourselves, first and foremost. Only then can we help shift the collective national mindset of “drugs” to a more productive context and beneficial public discussion.
Consider Levine’s stark examples:
(1)-Having a 10mg edible before going to sleep every night is not the same as smoking weed every day and neglecting one’s children.
(2)-Getting drunk at a wedding and having a blast without causing harm to oneself or others is not the same as getting drunk on a Tuesday morning and driving to work drunk.
(3)-Getting morphine at a hospital as an analgesic for one’s broken bones is not the same as recreationally shooting up morphine with dirty needles.
“If we try to look outside the scope of our preconceived ideas about drugs’ physiological and societal effects, and instead scrutinize the context of where and how drugs can be used, we can begin to have a rational discussion which exists outside of the infamous binary split of whether we should or should not use drugs.”
Let’s rewind. In his book High Society by Mike Jay, the discovery of how to crystallize a pure chemical substance free from contaminants transformed the scientific community, particularly in Germany where they further advanced into an industrial science market that supplied new plant-derived compounds to masses of pharmaceutical companies.
Then in 1820, caffeine was isolated from coffee and in 1860, the coca leaves would yield the most powerful and lucrative stimulant to date in the form of cocaine.
In 1886, CocaCola was introduced to the United States and was a mixture of coca (cocaine), sugar, and another mild stimulant, the West African kola nut.
Although it was marketed to the masses as a temperance beverage, one of the movement’s leaders filled a lawsuit in 1911 charging that caffeine in CocaCola was dangerously addictive. After much litigation, the company cut the caffeine in half.
But cocaine, or coca, swept across the U.S. as it was promised by the Parke-Davis Company to “supply the place of food, make the coward brave, the silent eloquent,” as reported by Joanna Bourke in her paper on Enjoying the high life—drugs in history and culture.
In the U.S., we successfully shifted our cocaine conversation and context with the drug and food ingredient quickly falling out of favor with the public long before the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.
In Cannabis Discourse, Levine discusses the dramatic marijuana U.S. context shift that must occur for legalization and normalization progress. He notes that this necessary shift involves three distinct goals:
- “To encourage a rational and logical approach to formulating future drug policies by providing an entire spectrum of today’s views surrounding marijuana.”
- “To encourage rational thinking in a world where extremely polarized and reactionary views are clouding our judgment.”
- “To make you think, rather than convince you of personal opinions.”
Subsequently, the future political and scientific cannabis discussion, must facilitate an overall mutual shift to a new context that consists of the de-stigmatized acknowledgement of cannabis as medicine, objective analysis of beneficial therapeutic cannabis use, and independent research on and availability of quality cannabis, to name only a few.
You can DOWNLOAD your own free copy of Jacob Levine’s comprehensive and concise book Cannabis Discourse here.
In the meantime, maybe think about your wake and bake ritual a bit more thoroughly before tomorrow morning.
Pause for a moment. Read this article again. Consider the amount of caffeine you will be ingesting with your cannabis and what outcome you want from the day and or night that follows your simultaneous wake and bake consumption.
¹Mike Jay, High Society. Published, 2010.
²Jacob Levine, Cannabis Discourse, 2018.