Coffee and Cannabis Cultures
Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world. With 54 percent of American citizens drinking coffee every day and $18 billion spent on it annually, there’s no denying that coffee has etched a foothold into our culture. Cannabis, on the other hand, is one of the most banned substances in the world (completely legal in only one country, Uruguay) and paradoxically one of the most widely consumed substances in the world (around 180 million users worldwide). On paper you may not think that the two have anything to do with each other, but you would be surprised. So how much do coffee and cannabis connect with each other? Well, aside from being alliterative, quite a bit.
For starters, there is a huge overlap between coffee and cannabis cultures. When you take a step back and examine the cultures that are built up around either substance they look eerily similar; almost as if the two substances are doppelgangers of each other from different universes. Both coffee and cannabis users utilize grinders, they take pride in their substance related devices (bongs and pipes for cannabis, and brewing devices for coffee), and regular users indulge in the chosen substance periodically throughout the day. Reddit.com user /u/ MakeYouFeel actually created a clever album highlighting the similarities
The Science Behind It
The coffee and cannabis connection runs deeper than cultural similarities; if you ask any cannabis enthusiast, they’ll tell you that coffee and cannabis go together like peanut butter and jelly. When you take a puff on a pipe and sip of your cup, the coffee takes on the most interesting flavor; a natural, almost earthy flavor that will make even the weakest of brews taste strong. You then enjoy a lilting high powered by the energetic power of caffeine and the relaxing properties of cannabis. All in all it’s a very pleasant experience, and there’s pretty good science to back it up.
When drinking coffee, the caffeine that goes into your body blocks particular synapses in your brain from transmitting a chemical called adenosine. According to a study published by the Journal of Neuroscience, high and low doses of caffeine will block different sides of said synapses. If you consume low doses of caffeine, it will block your presynaptic adenosine receptors, which decreases your desire for cannabis. If you consume high doses of caffeine, it does the opposite and blocks the postsynaptic adenosine receptors, which increases your desire for cannabis. If you are a little lost, here is a simple summary: increased caffeine = increased desire for cannabis, decreased caffeine = decreased desire for cannabis.
Where things get really interesting is when they examine the relationship cannabis has on cannabis and coffee consumption. A study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research examined the relationship between cannabis and coffee consumption and found that both substances stimulate the same neurotransmitters. What’s more is that the study found that heavy cannabis use has an effect similar to the one caffeine has on coffee consumption. When you consume copious amounts of coffee, caffeine begins to stimulate the same endogenous neurotransmitter system that marijuana uses. This change in your brain makes you likely to come back for that fourth and fifth cup of coffee; thus, more cannabis = more coffee.
Cannabis Coffee Brewing
With such a symbiotic relationship between coffee and cannabis, it is no wonder entrepreneurs in Colorado and Washington are creating businesses that try to bring the two together. One entrepreneur is Adam Stites of Longview, Washington. He has created a deliciously dank line of cannabis-infused coffee called “Legal” that comes prepared like any other kind of iced coffee; black, cream, milk & sugar, etc. Sadly, this special coffee is only available in Washington at the moment, but you can rest assured that once the “Green Curtain” falls and federal legalization finally arrives, “Legal” and all other types of cannabis-infused coffees will flood the national market. Whenever that happens is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for sure: cannabis coffee will definitely give Starbucks a run for its money.