Despite the growing popularity of cannabis and psychedelics, there is a shortage of research on how the two interact. Being aware of this, however, is key both for safety reasons and ensuring users of either can achieve their desired effects.
Psychedelics are drugs that cause changes in perception, mood, and cognitive processes. Among other mechanisms, many work by acting on the 5-HT2A serotonergic receptors. These include Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin, mescaline, and N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Others, such as ketamine, for example, work on NDMA receptors.
While cannabis is not known for inducing psychedelic experiences per se, chronic use of the plant is known to alter 5-HT2A receptor activity. A paper from 2018 found, for example, that chronic exposure to THC ‘induced a pro-hallucinogenic molecular conformation’ of the 5-HT2AR receptor in mice.
Given the dual action of cannabis and many psychedelics on 5-HT2A receptors, some say that it is possible that combining the two could modulate trip effects. A survey of 90 people who combined psychedelics with cannabis in 2019, for example, found that the combination may make people more sensitive to stimuli.
Due to research into cannabidiol (CBD) as an antipsychotic substance, some say that consumption of cannabis while taking psychedelics may reduce their psychomimetic effects, including anxiety and hallucinations. Whether or not this is the case, however, remains unclear.
Meanwhile, when combined with ketamine (commonly used as an anesthetic), cannabis has been shown to result in further pain reduction. How cannabis may modulate the more psychedelic effects of ketamine, however, remains unknown. Nevertheless, it appears that ketamine and cannabis do seem to interact.
While further research is needed to confirm the combined effects of cannabis and psychedelics, research up until now seems to suggest that the two do interact- and often in synergistic ways. As the two substances continue to gain in popularity, it is likely that further questions will arise on this issue as users ponder how to modulate their experience on either with the other.