The equivocal influence of cannabis on psychedelic experiences has raised many questions, specifically in relation to the therapeutic effects of psychedelics and potential blunting effects on intentionality. In this episode transcript of the Psychedelic Passage podcast, our co-founders, Jimmy and Nicholas, will discuss the logistics of using cannabis before, during, and after a psychedelic journey.
How can we know if our cannabis use is unconsciously masking intrapersonal conflict? Conversely, how can intentional cannabis use connect us to a deeper awareness about our emotional state? Does a psychedelic preparation diet include cutting down on cannabis?
Nicholas and Jimmy will go over tangible ways to assess if using cannabis during the psychedelic healing process would benefit or hinder your intentions. In retelling personal and client accounts, they’ll exemplify the possible outcomes of cannabis use during your journey.
Later, our hosts will explain the difference between THC and CBD use as it relates to a psychedelic experience. How can our relationship to cannabis change after a journey and how should you go about integrating these changes in a healthy way?
Episode 17 – The Equivocal Influence of Cannabis on Psychedelic Experiences
Jimmy: Welcome to the Psychedelic Passage podcast. My name is Jimmy Nguyen. I’m joined here by Nick Levich, my co-host. Thank you for joining us on another episode. This week, we’re going to be talking about cannabis and psychedelics.
And more specifically, we’re going to talk about the role, use, some tips and guidance around cannabis, specifically around preparation and integration and the psychedelic container as a whole, we may dabble a little bit in a conversation about mixing cannabis.
Nick: I think we should address it.
Jimmy: We should probably talk about it. But the whole idea is to give you some context for those who are cannabis users, CBD users and how that applies to intentional psychedelic use. We’ll touch a little bit upon all those different stages, prep, in ceremony, immediately post-ceremony, integration as well.
And just as a primer for folks, obviously, cannabis is decriminalized in some states, legalized in some states, medical in some states, recreational in some states.
What we’re finding is that cannabis really did, from a regulatory standpoint, pave the way, I think, a little bit for intentional psychedelic use. And folks who are looking for alternative ways for relief, alternative ways for healing, alternative ways for just medicinal benefit.
Nick: Sleep, pain management. All of the things.
Jimmy: There’s mood regulation, stress resilience, all of that. Likely there’s a lot more folks using CBD and cannabis. And then now those same folks are like, “Okay, how does this apply to psychedelics?” So, cannabis is a psychoactive substance. It does have psychoactive compounds to it, which means that it does somewhat elicit altered states definitely.
Jimmy: Though it’s not a traditional psychedelic by any means. A little bit of a primer here, we have natural cannabinoid receptors in our nervous system. It does act a little bit on serotonin and dopamine and that is somewhat very loosely related to the more traditional psychedelics, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, MDMA, DMT that also really, really work on the serotonin receptor.
So, Nick, where do you want to start with this conversation? What’s the best way to approach this in thinking about the relationship between cannabis and psychedelics for folks looking for an intentional experience?
Nick: Well, it’s interesting because one of the questions that we get a lot is, “Hey, I’ve had some anxiety or paranoia experiences when I smoke cannabis, is the psychedelic journey going to be like that?”
I think it’s really important to explain to folks that although cannabis can be psychedelic in its own way, it’s a whole different mechanism of action than a serotonergic psychedelic or tryptamine, like LSD, psilocybin, DMT.
Jimmy: Okay, yeah, I hear you. Let me give folks a little primer here. Nick and I spent some time in the CBD and cannabis industry world. So, obviously, we know about delta-9 THC tetrahydrocannabinol.
Jimmy: Yeah. Cannabidiol, thank you. And then there are other things like CBD, there’s CBG, CBA, there’s CBN. So, these are all cannabinoids. Each different strain of cannabis has a different makeup and profile of those cannabinoids.
And then what we also have are terpenes, which terpenes are responsible for the smell, sometimes the flavor of cannabis. What they found is that terpenes also modulate the effect and modulate the high, and so not only is it about the cannabinoid profile, but it’s also about the terpene content.
And then as Nick would always tell you, because he’s a no-till grower, it’s also about how it’s grown, what pesticides are used and all of those things. So, there’s likely at this point thousands of cannabis strains out there. It really doesn’t relegate just to indica, sativa, hybrid CBD, that’s a little bit of a-
Nick: -simplification of the whole–
Jimmy: Very, very simplified. I view all of this on a spectrum. So, you might find some strains that actually increase your anxiety. You might find some strains that make you a little bit more lethargic. There are some strains that carry body highs, there are some strains that are very mental as well. And so just know–
Nick: But also, how you consume makes a difference. Whether it’s in an oral, gummy, or smoked or vaporized or a topical. I don’t want to get into a whole cannabis breakdown. But I want to just explain clearly that cannabis and mushrooms are going to give you wildly different effects despite both being psychoactive.
Jimmy: My main thing with that dialogue I just had [Nick laughs] there’s a lot of variables out there within cannabis. This is not universal advice. Obviously, there needs to be some trial and error, some experimentation, but for those who do find benefit in cannabis, I break it down into two things.
One is either you’re trying to enhance whatever’s going on with you or the other is you’re trying to escape what’s going on with you, whether that’s pain or sleep or whatnot.
So, I think the first piece of guidance that I give to folks before you start thinking about the mix of cannabis and psychedelics, just think about your relationship with cannabis. Like, why do you use it? And what are your needs there, and how often and what not to?
Nick: Well, this brings up how cannabis use plays into prep because we got a lot of people that reach out to us and that’s also a spectrum. Everywhere from the one end of the extreme is the total state of despair and distress, and the other end of the spectrum would be spiritual self-actualization, or whatever the case is, and everything in between.
Nick: People use cannabis all at different points along that spectrum, depending on where you’re at. And so the question is, a lot of times what we hear is like, “Well, what do I do with my cannabis use during the preparation time?
If I’m moving towards an intentional psychedelic ceremony with something like psilocybin mushrooms, what do I do with my cannabis use? Do I need to adjust it? Does it impact prep?” These are all very valid questions, and there are not a lot of clear answers out there around how this process works.
Jimmy: Yeah, especially for people who use cannabis and CBD to sleep. I find that a very interesting dynamic, because to one angle, you want to be rested and you want to have some sleep and some calories and all that to just endure a longer psychedelic ceremony, like psilocybin.
And on the other end, is the dependency on cannabis to get sleep anyways, so it’s an interesting balance. What would you tell folks, as far as tangible advice, guidance for preparation?
Cannabis Use Leading up to Your Psychedelic Experience
Nick: Well, I think it goes back to what you touched on, which is the intentionality of your use. And so intention can be applied to all psychoactive medications, substances or medicines, not just the traditional psychedelics.
We talk about intention a lot when we talk about journeying with psilocybin, but very rarely does intention get talked about when we’re talking about cannabis as the medicine that’s being considered.
And so, I think, what this brings up for a lot of people that I’ve worked with on the client side of things, who do use cannabis is that they– during this process, when I share this with them, they start to realize, “Oh, man, a lot of my cannabis use is compulsive.”
I just reach for the pipe or the vape or whatever it is, without even really thinking about why. And so just that pause of asking why and to consider, “Okay, well, what’s my actual intention for doing this?” reframes the whole relationship and often starts to highlight some of those dependency issues or overuse issues or numbing out issues.
Because I’ll speak for myself, I’ve had beautiful, amazing insights and the ability to get access to different parts of my body and the ability to bring forward things that I didn’t have access to before while using cannabis intentionally.
And on the flip side, I’ve also abused the hell out of that plant at certain points in my life where I was very actively numbing out and just trying to escape. And so, both are true and the plant isn’t the issue. It’s how we engage with it.
Jimmy: Yeah. Cannabis to a degree is somewhat of a shapeshifter. And that’s where there’s a lot of applications as well. And I also think that it can amplify in the same way that psychedelics are nonspecific amplifiers. It can amplify some of these things within us.
What I’m hearing you say is that in the preparation process, in that internal inventory-taking process where you are thinking about, not only your mental constructs, you’re thinking about what content you have within you, but you’re also thinking about your habits and patterns and why you do the things that you do, seems like cannabis for those who use and for CBD users as well, it warrants being a part of that inventory-taking process.
Nick: Absolutely, because it’s how we relate to these external things. The idea from my perspective is we all want to be free. On one level, we all want to be free. And if we’re reliant on something external, we’re not truly free.
Jimmy: Mm-hmm. The other thing I hear from you is awareness as well.
Nick: For sure.
Jimmy: Like just being aware of, “Oh, I put this food in my mouth because I’m trying to cope. Or, “I’m smoking this because I need to unwind for the day or whatever.”
Nick: There’s a lot of habitual cannabis smokers that don’t actually know what it’s like to take a couple days, a week, a month off, and see who they are when they don’t consume. And that’s a practice I engage in regularly, is just taking extended breaks to see what shifts or what doesn’t shift.
Jimmy: Yeah. In the process that I share with my clients and my own concepts around preparation, it’s about bringing things to the surface and the awareness around that. I really don’t mean to say this in a cliche way. But cannabis does have a blunting effect.
It can cover up some of the things that we actually want to address. So, I think that’s a great piece of advice. Maybe as a part of your preparation process, you are just taking a day or two or trying to switch up your habit or trying to switch up your pattern, just to see what gets brought up there.
We share with folks in the preparation process for an intentional psychedelic experience or ceremony that the pot gets stirred, like stuff gets brought up. If you’re then using, let’s say, cannabis to cope with the stuff that’s getting brought up, well, it’s actually a little counterintuitive to the preparation process. So, I think just some awareness around your relationship with cannabis, I think that’s huge.
Nick: Yeah. I have two questions that I have found really helpful, both for myself and with clients that use cannabis as medicine, and those two questions are, “Am I choosing to engage with this out of self-love or self-hate? Am I choosing to do this to escape or to enhance?”
If the answer is that you’re doing this for self-love and to enhance, then that’s arguably a pretty healthy step. The flip side is if you’re doing it out of self-hate and to escape that is definitely on the numbing, abuse, blunting end of the spectrum.
I have found those questions to be very helpful for folks. It’s maybe not as cut and dry for some, but it helps frame how we’re relating to this external substance.
Jimmy: Worth some exploration for folks [laughs] I guess a part of their preparation process.
Jimmy: And then admittedly, there are some folks who use cannabis purely for those more medicinal attributes, like sleep and pain management and stress relief to a degree. Obviously, cannabis is going to stay in your bloodstream and in your system for a prolonged period of time, 20, 30, 40 days depending on the individual.
Nick and I take an approach of, you want to have as clean of a baseline as possible moving into a psychedelic experience. So, that includes everything that you put in your body. Food, junk food, healthy food, medication, supplements.
Nick: But, also inputs like news, TV, just like all of your diet, and all the inputs count as your diet.
Jimmy: Yeah. You’re reading my brain because I was just going there. I was like, “It’s more than just the tangible stuff that you put in your body.” It’s also-
Jimmy: -information, the way that you talk to yourself, all of these things. I think cannabis is a part of that. I do know that some people use cannabis to have somewhat of that altered state, to change the narrative on the way that they talk to themselves internally and all of those things.
So, I think just testing some of these things. Seeing the way that you talk to yourself when you don’t smoke or vape or eat an edible every couple of days. What we’re talking about here is actually moving the notion of cannabis from a more recreational mindset to being like, “Okay, how does this actually apply to my mind, body, and spirit?”
Which at that point, its intentional use is really what we’re talking about here. Obviously, this is very dependent, I share with folks at some point in their preparation process, try to go a couple of days without using cannabis. And then I recommend three, five, seven days of non-cannabis use leading up to a ceremony day. I don’t know what your thoughts are on that.
Nick: Yeah, I’m in the five to seven days before the ceremony, just stop. It’s interesting because if you can’t stop for five to seven days before the ceremony, that’s also an interesting observation.
Jimmy: The whole other thing going on besides psychedelic preparation.
Nick: Yeah. 100%. And we know facilitators who have worked with clients who have had, basically the equivalent of like, psychosis seceding their cannabis use after being heavy, heavy, habitual daily consumers for a long time.
And so once again, the inability to secede use is a flag of sorts, that’s likely a chemical dependency type of relationship. I think it’s not just being free and clear for the journey, but it’s also highlighting how dependent or not you may be on this external medicine.
Jimmy: Yeah, or cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, which is excess of vomiting, usually, for folks who are doing like high concentrations of cannabis, whether that’s dabs or concentrates or high dose edibles and things like that.
So, I think the takeaway here is that it’s much more than about whether THC is in your system or not. There’s a larger conversation to be had about your relationship with cannabis, whether there are any dependence issues, whether you are trying to mask or alleviate some things going on in your life.
Regardless of whether that’s something symptomatic or something larger, like, “I got this challenging thing going on,” or there’s trauma or whatever, “And I use cannabis to cope,” which like, by the way, we’re not judging you. We’re just saying think about that in relation–
Nick: It is all in the context of a healing journey.
Nick: This whole show is about how to heal from within using psychedelics. And so we’re addressing cannabis from that lens.
Jimmy: Yeah. And not in a way of chasing peak experiences. You say this all the time, like, if all we’re doing is chasing highs and chasing peak experiences, well, what utility does that actually have in our everyday lives? We should shift it to integration, but I want to talk a little bit about in-ceremony as well.
Nick: Let’s touch on CBD really quickly and then let’s move into ceremony.
Nick: My own perspective is CBD is far less interfering in this preparation process. To me, because it’s non-psychoactive, it’s not impairing so directly or interfering so directly with this internal inventory process, and so I’m actually okay with folks staying on CBD as far as my own clients.
Jimmy: Yeah. I follow the same logic and principles there too. Now at large CBD doses, you may have somewhat of an altered effect, but far, far, far less psychoactive than “standard traditional”–
What to Consider When Mixing Psychedelics With Cannabis
Jimmy: And I say that with big air quotes. Okay, so what about in ceremony? And then I do want to touch upon integration as well. I fall into the principle of ‘the less variables the better’.
Jimmy: And that’s even like psilocybin and functional non-psychedelic mushrooms. I mean, obviously, there’s some compatible things like Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Cordyceps, things like that. Even people who talk to me about– listeners may have some questions about this, you can look this up, but like lemon tekking with psilocybin.
I’m like, I usually just try to avoid it anyways. Cannabis falls in that same category for me. I generally don’t like to mix. I do know that there are cannabis ceremonies out there and there’s very intentional cannabis use, but I’m not that big of a fan of mixing cannabis with other psychedelics in an intentional setting.
Now, recreationally, that’s a whole different story. But, yeah, I just fall on the principle of like, “Well, how do you know which compound and which medicine is working?” And there’s also, and you know this as well, Nick, there are some where they go toe to toe with each other as well. So, there are some incompatibilities there with certain psychedelic medicines, too.
Nick: I have watched people have beautiful journeys on psilocybin and then smoke a little bit of cannabis and have one of the most horrific, challenging, uncomfortable second half of the journey of their life.
And so like, that doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee. But it goes back to your point on inserting variables that just don’t need to be there, like, is psilocybin not good enough on its own, that we need to start infusing cannabis? Or like, what’s the motivation for wanting to add more to this equation anyway?
Jimmy: Yeah. I also hold a world where there probably are practitioners out there who that’s just a part of their teaching and part of their lineage of mixing cannabis with other things, and I have respect for that. But those folks should have a history and know what they’re doing. I’d say for the broad audience in the United States, I wouldn’t recommend mixing cannabis with other psychedelics.
Nick: If you do, it’s important to know how you respond to the psychedelic alone, and how you respond to cannabis alone before you start mixing.
Jimmy: Yeah. When we think about cannabis, we don’t even dose. When we’re talking about an intentional psychedelic experience, harm reduction is like dosage, set and setting, who is around you, the support that you have.
And cannabis is in a whole different world with us, we’re not even aware of dosage and how much we’re consuming and all of that. I especially caution folks who choose to take solo experiences without support, without guidance because you are likely already in an altered state when you’re taking a psilocybin mushroom or something like that.
And then if cannabis is around, you may have a compulsory drive to reach for that. So, yeah, my best piece of advice, put it away. [laughs] It’s probably my best piece of advice there.
And, I think, if you do find practitioners or sitters or professionals or whatever, who have an intersection between cannabis and psychedelics, really ask them questions about why and what benefit that has and what that might do for your experience, and then really see if there’s like an intent or a purpose around that.
Cannabis Use After a Psychedelic Experience
Jimmy: All right, let’s move over to integration. I think this is actually probably the most interesting one because your peak experience is over, you’re out of ceremony or out of your session, you’re in integration. What do you think about cannabis use in that phase?
Nick: This is a delicate one from my perspective, I think it’s really important for folks to have a return to baseline. I’ll be at your new baseline after a true psychedelic journey, that’s unencumbered by infusing more medicines, even if it’s plant medicine, like cannabis.
And so I know for myself, it takes a good three to seven days after a deep journey to reach that new baseline, that equilibrium point where you’re like, “Okay, I’m starting to feel normal,” whatever that means.
Jimmy: Yeah. Your body, your mind is recalibrating. Also, there’s a level of sensitivity that I share with clients after a ceremony where I’m like, “Look, you’re going to be more sensitive to audiovisual stimuli, you’re going to be more sensitive to conversations that you have, you’re going to be more sensitive to stress and responsibilities and things in your life”.
The same goes for whatever substances you put in. You’re going to be more sensitive to caffeine, you’re going to be more sensitive to cannabis. So, I also hear you saying that period, for sure, and that three to seven days, but I’d also say like up to 30, 45, 60 days.
It’s a really important time to think about your habits and patterns, and what creates a conducive environment for you to integrate the changes that you want. And so just as a broad perspective, I share with folks in integration thinking about obviously your body, mind, spirit, but then also your community, your environment, all of the inputs, like you said.
You were talking about going on a whole being diet, maybe I’ll call it that. Going on a whole being diet and preparation. I think the same applies for integration. When you are in this nervous system reregulation, you’re kind of recalibrating your system and then you introduce something like cannabis to it.
I don’t necessarily think that that’s going to ruin somebody’s integration process. But I’ll share that there’s probably something about effectiveness and optimizing your integration process.
Nick: Yeah. It’s a time to be very cognizant and careful of your inputs, and to really honor that increased sensitivity. We see this even with prescription medication and coffee, like you mentioned. People literally will take the same dosage of something they took pre-ceremony, during the integration period, and be like, “Oh, my goodness, that was intense ” or “that was way stronger than normal”.
And so I look at ceremony like wiping the slate clean. If you’re going to wipe the slate clean, you can call it a hard reset, you can call it a death and rebirth, whatever you want to call it. You have this very, very fresh start. At what point do you want to start introducing these other substances or inputs, if ever, like, what was your original intention for sitting with something like psilocybin anyway?
Nick: And if introducing cannabis on the back end goes against that intention, well then you have your answer.
Jimmy: Yeah. I think that in addition to the tangibility of cannabis and how it plays into integration, I think you’re touching upon something a little bit more philosophical as well, where that wiping, that slate clean, the deep exploration of the self, the potential of remembering who you truly are, and then in the integration process, you bring that forward into the world.
Well, that’s a sacred process. And so what I think philosophically for me, I think about, “All right, well, this is a sacred process, then there’s this opportunity to treat everything that I do in my life, post-experience, post-peak experience in a sacred way.” The relationship with cannabis, your relationship with food, your relationship with alcohol, your medications.
Jimmy: Yeah, how you spend your time, the content you consume, all of that has potential for sacredness. And if people aren’t vibing with what I’m saying with sacredness, at least it can invite intentionality around all of that stuff. Taking a real look on, why do I do the things that I do? And does this lead me to a more fulfilling and truer self?
Nick: Yeah. And if cannabis fits into that equation, great. If it doesn’t, also great.
Jimmy: Mm-hmm. Yeah, so obviously you’re hearing us talk and we’re speaking a little bit more broadly, we don’t want to be prescriptive here. We don’t want to have a definitive answer to be like, “No, don’t use cannabis. Yes, use it at this–” because we don’t know your lives and we don’t know what you’re going through.
And everybody’s very different. But I think the major takeaway here is inviting in some intentionality, thinking about your relationship with cannabis as it relates to that internal inventory process and preparation.
Nick: And just a larger healing journey that you’re on.
Jimmy: Right, yeah, Mm-hmm. And then also just reducing variables, I think was the major takeaway in prep, ceremony, integration as well. Any other things that would be tangible for folks as we encapsulate what we’re trying to share on this episode?
Tangible Takeaways on Intentional Substance Use
Nick: Just remember that being clean and clear going into a ceremony will allow you to experience the most benefit. And the same goes for that immediate time on the backend when all of the puzzle pieces are falling back into place that first week or two of integration.It’s so crucial to just be really gentle with yourself and to limit the amount of other inputs that you’re infusing into that very tender time.
Jimmy: Yeah, I share with folks that regardless of if it’s a plant medicine, fungi medicine, synthetic substances, like LSD or MDMA. It’s about building a relationship with that compound or with that medicine.
And I think using that as a catalyst to build a relationship with yourself. And then when you add in another relationship with cannabis or something like that, it can muddy the waters, I think a little bit. Thanks for your insights, Nick. So, that does it for our episode here this week.
Thank you to all of our listeners. We’ve been getting a lot of just responses and we really hope that this was a helpful and valuable conversation. We have a lot of fun doing this, but we also do this in service to you all. So, really appreciate everybody reaching out. If you liked the show, please rate and review and we look forward to connecting with you next week.
As our hosts noted, there exists no one-size-fits-all approach when relating cannabis use to psychedelic experiences. Everyone’s present circumstances are uniquely theirs. Thus, intentionality behind use of any substance becomes the key determinant of its service or disservice to your larger healing journey.
If you’re interested in embarking on your own therapeutic psychedelic experience and would like to get connected to our carefully vetted network of psychedelic facilitators, we empower you to book a consultation with us. If you have any more questions, head on over to our resources page for more info. As always, safe and mindful journeying, friends!