Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses seen across the globe. This prevalence has caused many to turn to medications in hopes of alleviating some of the uncomfortable symptoms that this illness can bring. Unfortunately, for those who also enjoy medical marijuana, they’re left in a bit of a gray area. In terms of cannabis and drug interactions, what happens when you mix cannabis with antidepressants?

While the research is severely lacking, there is still some evidence that can point us in the right direction. With the help of our partner, 3rd Street Dispensary in Missouri, we’ve broken down the drug-to-drug interactions between the primary types of antidepressants and medical marijuana. 

Person working with ground up cannabis on a table. Text about cannabis and drug interactions.
Cannabis and Drug Interactions

Cannabis and Drug Interactions: Why We Don’t Know More

Before we take a deep dive into these drug interactions, let’s first discuss why we’re at the place we are with cannabis research. 

As it stands, marijuana is federally illegal per the United States government. They have classified the plant as a Schedule 1 Drug, creating considerable barriers in the cannabis industry. Because of this classification, large-scale, long-term clinical trials are incredibly complicated to conduct. Researchers must fight various legal battles to get these accomplished correctly. Thus causing many to turn to smaller, more preliminary studies instead.  

While these smaller studies are still valid and extremely helpful, it does not produce the concrete evidence that the US government or Department of Health needs. If cannabis acceptance and marijuana legalization continues going the way it is in the United States, there is a chance this will change in the future. If it does, then research towards cannabis and drug interactions would become more readily available to anyone who wants to know. However, we’re not sure what it will take to trigger this shift in attitude. We can only hope it happens soon. 

Medical Marijuana and SSRIs

Now, let’s talk about what we know in terms of cannabis and SSRI interactions. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) are a form of antidepressant that work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Some of the most common SSRIs are Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, and Lexapro. 

In terms of cannabis and drug interactions, the side effects are actually quite rare. Very few have reported increased levels of depression or even hypomania for those predisposed to bipolar disorder. However, these results are isolated cases, and clinical trials have yet to find many substantial interactions between medical marijuana and SSRIs. 

However, just because the risk is rare doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consult your doctor. It’s always worthwhile to have a conversation with your primary care physician to see if they believe medical marijuana is right for you. If they know of any side effects with your specific medication, they will let you know. 

Cannabis and NDRI Interactions

NDRIs are another major type of anti-depressant. NDRI stands for Norepinephrine and Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors and they work to produce more of these neurotransmitters, balancing out the chemicals in the brain. NDRIs are medications like Wellbutrin, Manon, and Aplenzin. 

Similar to SSRIs, NDRIs haven’t seen many results regarding interactions. In fact, there haven’t been any documented side effects between mixing NDRIs and medical cannabis. Whether this is because there aren’t any or because they just haven’t been discovered yet is up for debate. Still, it does show potential. 

Regardless of the NDRI your doctor prescribed, make sure to let them know you're interested in MMJ consumption. From there, you two can discuss options, side effects, and safety. 

MMJ and TCAs

Finally, let’s talk about MMJ and TCAs. If you haven’t heard of Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCA) before, you’re likely not the only one. Doctors do not frequently prescribe these forms of antidepressants anymore due to common negative side effects. However, they will occasionally administer them depending on one’s reactions to the above antidepressants. TCAs are medications such as Allegro, Tofranil, and Prothiaden. 

Regarding cannabis and drug interactions with TCAs, the risk is much higher than with other antidepressants. When combined, people have experienced increased heart rate and blood pressure, dizziness, and even confusion. Because of this, it is not recommended to let two interact, especially if you have any other pre-existing conditions. The chance for a negative side effect is simply much higher with cannabis and TCAs than MMJ and SSRIs and NDRIs. 

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Cannabis and Drug Interactions: Starting Low and Slow

If you’ve gotten a qualified physician’s approval to consume medical marijuana alongside your medication, the best way for you to introduce the two is always by starting low and slow. This means, begin with trying only a very low dose of cannabis with medications in your system and see how your body reacts. Take your time, though! Be slow here, and give your body days to adjust to these levels of cannabinoids before attempting to consume more. Discuss with your doctor to see what a good starting dose might be. 

At any point, if you experience any negative side effects, contact your doctor immediately. You should monitor any changes in everyday mood or function and report it to your physician if they do occur. Because cannabis and drug interactions are still so new, keeping in close communication with your doctor can be helpful for everyone involved. 

Having The Best MMJ Experience Possible 

Elevate Holistics wants to ensure you have the best MMJ experience possible, even if you take other medications. That’s exactly why we’ve partnered with our favorite dispensary in Missouri, 3rd Street Dispensary, to help provide our patients with everything you need and more. 

Through Elevate, you can book your own telehealth appointment to meet with a licensed physician to help obtain a medical marijuana card in your state. Then, you can head over to 3rd Street’s website and check out all the products and incredible resources they have to offer. Here, you can sign up for their VIP text club, too, to help you stay up-to-date on everything they’re doing. 

With both Elevate and 3rd Street, together, you’ll have all the information required to safely consume both your cannabis and select antidepressants.

Not sure if you qualify for an MMJ card?