Study: Coffee can alter your cannabis habit

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez |

Monkeys and science have joined forces to bring us a new cannabis revelation.

Coffee may increase a desire for the good green — and caffeine, that favorite drug of millions of Americans, may act on the brain in a way similar to marijuana.

A study released by neuroscientists from the Integrative Neurobiology Section of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in the Journal of Neuroscience shines the spotlight on the sections of brain lit up by coffee and cannabis.

The scientists conducted studies on eight adult male squirrel monkeys under lab conditions, who were allowed to administer themselves tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical responsible for many of cannabis’ psychological effects.

As the monkeys self-administered THC, the researchers found coffee and cannabis are interestingly intertwined, at least as far as the brain is concerned.

According to the Oxford University Press, caffeine works its bewitching ways on the brain by blocking the neurotransmitter receptor for the chemical adenosine. Synapses connect neurons, and have adenosine receptors on either side. Thus, adenosine receptors are involved in controlling both sides of the synapse.

OUP sums up the chemical interactions coffee and the good green enable in the brain:

What the scientists discovered was that blocking the presynaptic adenosine receptors caused the monkeys to stop self-administering THC. In contrast, blocking the post-synaptic adenosine receptors caused the monkeys to increase their self-administration of THC.

The results of this study suggest that low doses of caffeine should decreased marijuana self-administration and that high doses of caffeine will increase marijuana self-administration. What remains unknown is whether drinking lots of coffee will enhance the marijuana euphoria.

As Ohio State University neuroscientist Gary Wenk put it, “Hidden within that hot black silken elixir is a chemical that has taken over your brain by mimicking the actions of marijuana.”

A good tidbit to remember the next time you’re sharing a cup of Starbucks with someone who fears weed.