Your “set and setting” are perfect and you’re with your closest friends. But when someone passes you a joint while tripping, do you accept it?
Smoking weed when you’re in the midst of a psychedelic experience is common, whether you’re on shrooms, LSD, MDMA, or another hallucinogenic substance. But just because people do it, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s risk-free. Like with all things psychedelic, the main concern is for users’ mental and spiritual well-being because cannabis can have an unpredictably strong effect when mixed with psychedelics, according to Tripsit.me.
We took a deep dive into the world of mixing weed with mushrooms, LSD and MDMA to see what the range of effects looks like, why people do it, and the potential risks and benefits, to help you make the most informed decision possible.
How does weed affect a mushroom trip?
Mixing cannabis and psilocybin-containing mushrooms is one of the most popular poly-drug combinations among psychedelic users. While reporting this piece, I surveyed nearly 90 people who mix weed and psychedelics, and just under half reported using mushrooms and weed together. People had all sorts of reasons for consuming cannabis while they were on shrooms, many similar to why they use cannabis in general, like to relax and to combat the nausea that can sometimes be a part of a mushroom experience.
Another reason they mix the two is to increase the psychedelic effects of psilocybin, especially the visual effects when their eyes are open or closed. I ask Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, Medical Advisor at Loud Cloud Health about this, and he confirms that many peoples’ senses are enhanced when they combine cannabis with psilocybin.
“This may manifest itself in the person experiencing more intense audio and visual hallucinations,” Djordjevic says. Yet, it can be a double-edged sword, as both my survey participants and Djordjevic confirms. “One risk would be that the experience is too strong, especially for beginners dabbling in psychedelics. The strong visuals produced by using cannabis and psilocybin together may be exciting for some and terrifying for others.”
That’s been my experience, too. When I’ve smoked weed while on shrooms, the trip has become a bit weirder or “trippier,” for lack of a better word. I hypothesized that perhaps regular cannabis consuming psychonauts would be able to handle the mix, and those new to either substance should probably just stick to one to avoid getting overwhelmed and making their trip more challenging than it has to be. While many of my survey participants agreed with me (nearly all of whom were regular cannabis consumers), it wasn’t that clear cut. Even daily cannabis consumers who use psychedelics occasionally told me they stopped mixing the two because they’ve experienced increased anxiety, especially smoking weed on the come-up of a psychedelic experience.
That brings us to our next consideration: where you are in your psychedelic journey—or the timing—really affects what happens when you add cannabis to the mix. For example, some people report smoking weed right after they’ve eaten mushrooms calms their minds and their stomachs. In fact, one survey participant told me that because “cannabis reduces their inhibitions, they can move into the psychedelic experience more gently, with less pushback from their ego.” Considering the main tripping navigation skill is to relax and release your control to the substance, or “trust, let go, be open,” perhaps cannabis could be a good companion.
Another common time people report adding some cannabis into the equation is after the peak of their trip and when the mushrooms are wearing off. When the psychedelic experience is starting to wind down, around hour five or six for a mushroom trip, consuming some cannabis can bring people right back to full-on tripping. It’s why many report adding cannabis to elongate a trip, although not everyone experiences this. For example, a few of my survey participants reported using cannabis at the end of a trip to “re-enter reality more softly” and to “ground themselves” or to help them fall asleep after such a stimulating journey. Like everything with cannabis and psychedelics, experiences are completely individual, and can even change due to a person’s context (aka “set and setting”), stress level, diet, and other chemical and biological factors.
Common effects: intensifies the psychedelic effects, or relaxes people
Most common reasons: anti-nausea, anxiety relief, to elongate and intensify the trip, already regular cannabis consumers
Risks: increased anxiety, especially if you’re inexperienced with either substance or cannabis makes you anxious to begin with
When to consume? Depends, but popular times are right before it starts to kick in, after the peak, towards the end of the trip
Combining Weed and Acid
Because LSD and psilocybin are both classic psychedelics that produce comparable experiences, the effects of mixing them with cannabis is very similar. For instance, many report cannabis can intensify their LSD experience, mainly by enhancing the visual or introspective effects of it. Djordjevic agrees, but adds, “With LSD, however, the experience is more ‘controlled’ since it’s dosed chemically and the effects are more consistent. Compared to psilocybin, there are less ‘spikes’ where the person can feel the effects intensely for some minutes, but rather more evenly distributed over the course of several hours.”
While that may be true, many in my survey still reported increased anxiety from mixing the two, which has caused some to stop combining completely, like communications strategist for cannabis, Leland Radovanovic. He told DoubleBlind he’s stopped mixing cannabis and psychedelics, like acid or 2-cb in recent years, even though he consumes cannabis daily, because the combo can give him bad anxiety. “I do sometimes use CBD flower,” Radovanovic says, explaining that it has an anti-anxiety effect almost akin to Xanax.
Many people seem to enjoy mixing LSD and cannabis, saying it brings them “to another world” or is “euphoric” and “overwhelming in a good way.”
Yet many people seem to enjoy the intensification effects of mixing LSD and cannabis, saying it brings them “to another world” or is “euphoric” and “overwhelming in a good way.” Similar to psilocybin, others report cannabis can help with the nausea they get while on LSD, especially during the come-up. Some even report using CBD-dominant products for this reason. Other people don’t get the intensification effects at all, and say adding some weed to the mix calms them, even during a challenging time of their trip. Folks also report they don’t feel weed at all while on LSD, and can still end up going through many grams, more for the ritual than for a particular effect.
As far as risks, experienced users say they’d be wary to offer the combo to those who are new to either substance, or to their friends for whom cannabis can increase their anxiety. Others report it can increase their feelings of paranoia and dissociation, “making it difficult to distinguish reality and think rationally.” When I ask people if it makes them “trip harder” many say yes, but others admit they aren’t sure if they would call it harder, but it’s definitely different. Some even claimed cannabis had “ruined” an acid trip, so it can be a tricky area to navigate that is unique to everyone.
The effects of mixing cannabis and acid are also dose-dependent. For instance, on higher doses of LSD it may be too overwhelming, but on micro to moderate doses, it may enhance the experience for people who are comfortable consuming cannabis.
Common effects: intensifies the trip, especially the visuals
Most common reasons: regular cannabis consumers to begin with, nausea relief, anti-anxiety, to elongate the experience, to intensify the experience
Risks: anxiety, paranoia and becoming overwhelmed by the experience, especially if you’re not experienced with either substance or cannabis makes you anxious, HPPD (read below for more info)
When to consume? Popular times include right before or when it starts to kick in, after the peak, and at the end of the trip
Mixing MDMA and Weed
Although not technically a “psychedelic,” MDMA can have “mind-revealing” effects, so I wanted to explore how mixing the substance with cannabis makes people feel. Many report similar reasons for this combination as they do for mixing weed with mushrooms or acid, saying cannabis can intensify the effects of MDMA. Some say it can increase their euphoria, and others have told me it can increase the visual experience, giving them more “tracers.” Djordjevic says the benefit of the combo could be to “enhance feelings or well-being… [and to] make users go into a very relaxed state that banishes all egotistical and jealous thoughts.”
He also says that mixing cannabis and MDMA is safer than mixing the club drug with alcohol, but the main concern for both combos is dehydration. “Mixing MDMA with alcohol is dangerous because when people are drunk they may forget to drink water regularly. Not to mention the alcohol itself dehydrates, so cannabis is a much better choice to mix with MDMA, in my opinion.”
Mixing cannabis and MDMA is safer than mixing the club drug with alcohol, but the main concern for both combos is dehydration.
As far as risks go, it’s important to point out that both cannabis and MDMA can increase your heart rate, especially if you’ve taken an ecstasy pill, which will likely include speed. If you already have a pre-existing heart condition, this combo could be potentially dangerous.
There’s less concern that this combo will induce “a bad trip.” Although, increased anxiety is still a possibility, especially when using cannabis during the MDMA come-up or when you’re feeling particularly “rushy.”
Like with other psychedelics, a popular time to use cannabis is at the end of an MDMA experience, but more as a way to even out the comedown than to elongate the trip. But again, I would caution against inexperienced users trying this before they know how each substance affects them individually.
Common effects: intensifies the MDMA effects
Most common reasons: to intensify, increased euphoria, anxiety relief, regular cannabis consumers
Risks: increased heart rate, dehydration
When to consume? when you’re starting to come-down from the MDMA effects
One Final Warning: The HPPD Possibility
The last risk worth mentioning is some experts we spoke with believe mixing cannabis and psychedelics can increase your chance of developing Hallucinogen Perception Persisting Disorder (HPPD). HPPD is a condition characterized by lasting visual distortions (like tracers and halos), and possible depersonalization once your psychedelic experience has ended. It affects an estimated 0.12 to 4.2 percent of psychedelic users. I don’t mean to scare anyone, but the risk does seem to increase if you mix multiple drugs, including cannabis, and your frequency of psychedelic use may also play a part. Although, even among those with HPPD, not everyone is distressed by its symptoms, and some folks even seem to enjoy them.
Dr. James Giordano, professor of neurology and biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center tells DoubleBlind, it’s not just poly-drug use or high frequency of use that puts people at risk for developing HPPD—some people might be genetically predisposed to the condition. “If you look at many of the reports, they are individuals who have had a personal [or family] history of psychiatric and neurological disorders,” Giordano says.
This brings us to the last safety concern: people with a history of certain mental health conditions, especially those that include psychotic or manic episodes, need to take extra precaution with psychedelics in general, and maybe want to avoid mixing substances that might increase their chance of any kind of lasting negative effects. An option for these folks is to seek out some kind of professional guide, like a retreat, clinical trial, underground therapist or shaman.
At the end of the day, the safest way to take psychedelics (or cannabis for that matter) is cleanly, without combining it with other substances. But if you’re curious about the mix, take this information into consideration and always experiment with any substance with proper care and preparation.
Michelle Janikian is a journalist focused on drug policy, trends and education. She’s the author of the upcoming book, “Your Psilocybin Mushroom Companion: An Informative, Easy-to-Use Guide to Understanding Magic Mushrooms”, writes a column for Playboy about psychedelics and cannabis and has also contributed to High Times, Herb, Rolling Stone and Teen Vogue.