Saturday January 12, 2019
By Erin Hiatt
Knowledgeable psychonauts, those who have experience utilizing different kinds of psychedelics, say that using cannabis helps to enhance – by its literal definition, to raise to a higher degree, intensify, and magnify – their psychedelic journeys. There aren’t really any studies out there to verify their reports, so let’s take a look at how cannabis may be able to enhance both the good and the bad of the psychedelic experience.
Psychedelics vs. Cannabis
Psychedelics act very differently in the brain than cannabis. Psychedelics like dimethlytryptamine (DMT), LSD (acid), and psilocybin (magic mushrooms) are typtamines, which activate neurotransmitters that produce serotonin, contributing to feelings of happiness and well-being, and dopamine, a separate neurotransmitter that interacts with brain’s reward and pleasure centers.
Known for their ability to incite ego dissolution, feelings of connectedness to nature, profound visual changes, and intensified sensory experiences, psychedelics also have physiological effects like increased blood pressure and heart rate, and can cause nervousness, paranoia, and panic.
Cannabis interacts with the body’s own endocannabinoid system, which helps to regulate the body’s system of homeostasis, which is your body’s way to keep your internal environment stable and in the “Goldilock’s zone,” where everything is just right. The health benefits of cannabis are well-known, but cannabis also produces side-effects, like feelings of panic and anxiety, hypertension (high blood pressure), hypotension (low blood pressure), and rapid heart rate.
Combining Cannabis and Psychedelics
When substances are taken together, they can either interact synergistically, working together to create a greater effect than they would individually, or antagonistically, where the interaction my block or reduce the effectiveness of one or both substances.
Whether cannabis and psychedelics act with synergy or antagonism is not well-studied, but those who have tried the two together say that cannabis seems to act more synergistically.
“I’ve found that using a small amount of cannabis before and after my journey acts as a mental lubricant when using a psychedelic,” says Josh, an NYC-based actor and voice over artist. “It helps me relax into the experience as I give into the power of the entheogen, and also helps to bring me back into my body after the trip.” He goes on to say that he only uses a mild amount of cannabis, which provides a comfortable bookend to his whole process and experience.
And Josh isn’t alone. Many people who use them together say that cannabis, especially with LSD, can enhance visual effects and make the trip more intense. However, it may also magnify some of LSD’s less pleasant aspects, like paranoia, anxiety, and increased heart rate.
How Cannabis Influences Effects
Here’s how cannabis may interact with other psychedelic drugs:
The active molecule in magic mushrooms, psilocybin, has been known to cause anxiety in some people. If you are prone to anxiety or paranoia with cannabis, or magic mushrooms for that matter, this is a combination to avoid. Conversely, if you find cannabis to be a useful tool to reduce anxiety, it may be helpful in smaller doses. Should you choose to include cannabis with psilocybin, using about half of what you would normally use will make for a better psychedelic experience
Known as the most potent hallucinogen, DMT, the active ingredient in ayahuasca, packs the most powerful psychedelic punch. DMT is an incredibly fast-acting substance, with an onset of about 10-60 seconds when taken alone. The trip itself is around 10-20 minutes. Because DMT is so fast acting, using it with cannabis is nearly impossible, and is not at all recommended. However, using cannabis before or after using DMT may help process insights from the DMT experience
Mescaline, or peyote, which acts similarly to LSD and psilocybin, can also cause nausea. Cannabis could be useful to help ease nausea caused by mescaline, but only after several hours into the trip and just a small amount to take the edge off. Cannabis may also heighten the overall psychedelic experience, including enhanced sights, sounds, and psychological insights
Mixing cannabis and psychedelics is definitely not for people new to either substance. Using them together can make for a too-intense experience that may be hard to manage and process physically, mentally, and emotionally. However, with the right know-how and dosing, cannabis can be a very complementary substance to a psychedelic journey. Should you decide to use psychedelics and cannabis simultaneously, be sure that you are in safe, familiar, and comfortable surroundings, and be in the company of someone you know well and trust.
Have you ever combined cannabis and psychedelics? Share your experiences in the comments below!