Can You Use Marijuana and Ritalin At the Same Time?
Article written by
Dipak HemrajHead of Research and Education
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Ritalin is a medication used to treat ADHD. And while some people combine cannabis and Ritalin to help ease symptoms such as anxiety and depression — which can arise due to ADHD and the stimulant-based medications used to manage it — mixing the two is not recommended.
Cannabis use combined with ADHD medications like Ritalin may increase strain on the heart. However, there are some reports of people managing ADHD successfully with cannabis, perhaps even using it to reduce stimulant intake.
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What Is Ritalin?
Methylphenidate, sold under the name Ritalin, is an oral medication that is used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
Although the exact mechanism of how Ritalin works is unknown, research has shown that it may affect serotonin, norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and dopamine levels in the body, all of which may play a role in the symptoms of ADHD.
People with ADHD commonly experience other conditions alongside their ADHD. These include:
- Anxiety disorder
Ritalin is a stimulant, meaning that it increases the activity of the body’s central nervous system (CNS). Stimulant drugs increase the speed at which messages travel to and from the brain and the rest of the body, causing you to feel more alert, awake, and energetic.
Some possible negative side effects of Ritalin include:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Nausea and vomiting
Potential Benefits and Risks of Mixing Cannabis and Ritalin
As stated earlier, while combining marijuana use with Ritalin is not recommended, some people do report positive effects. However, it’s essential to understand the pros and cons of taking cannabis with a stimulant medication.
The combined effects of cannabis and Ritalin may reduce co-occurring (co-morbid) conditions. CBD, one of the main cannabinoids in cannabis, can help reduce symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, and epilepsy, all of which can occur alongside ADHD.
Additionally, cannabis may help reduce the symptoms of common side effects of Ritalin, such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Pain, including stomach pain
- Nausea and vomiting
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While there are some benefits to taking the two together, there are also a few risks; one is that cannabis use may decrease the effects of Ritalin. A study in 2014 found that using cannabis and Ritalin at the same time decreased the effects of Ritalin. This is not ideal if you are using Ritalin to treat ADHD symptoms.
The combination of both drugs may also lead to overstimulation. Cannabis (specifically THC combined with limonene and terpinolene) and Ritalin are both stimulants. This means that both of these substances increase the activity of the CNS, increasing blood pressure and heart rate. Combining two stimulants can put extra strain on the heart, potentially increasing your risk of heart health issues.
Additionally, overstimulation can result in a symptom called “weed shakes,” where your body trembles as if you are very cold. Weed shakes occur when the nervous system is overwhelmed, which can happen when you take too many stimulants.
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What to Do If You Need to Use Both Ritalin and Marijuana
If you wish to combine cannabis and Ritalin, it is best to discuss this with your doctor. As CBD can be beneficial for treating some co-occurring conditions, your healthcare provider may recommend using CBD oil or a strain high in CBD and low in THC (since THC is a stimulant).
If you are currently taking both Ritalin and cannabis, it is recommended that you tell your doctor, even if you are not experiencing any negative effects. This will help them make appropriate decisions for your medical future should you need to change any medications or start experiencing adverse side effects.
Why Mixing Cannabis with Ritalin Can Help You Feel Better
Mixing cannabis and Ritalin has the potential to help you feel better if you are experiencing other conditions alongside ADHD, such as depression, anxiety, or epilepsy. CBD, a cannabinoid found in cannabis, has been shown to help reduce symptoms of these conditions. Medical cannabis may help you reduce your intake of other prescription drugs, including antidepressants and stimulants.
Additionally, cannabis may help reduce the adverse side effects people often experience when taking Ritalin. However, it can also decrease the effectiveness of Ritalin, so you should discuss this with your doctor first.
The Bottom Line
Combining Ritalin and cannabis is not recommended. There is not a significant amount of research in this area at the moment, so we cannot say for sure that mixing the two substances is not safe. Some research has shown that cannabis can reduce the effects of Ritalin and put extra strain on your CNS and heart.
However, some users may find that cannabis can help relieve the side effects of Ritalin, as well as treat co-occurring conditions. If you wish to combine cannabis and Ritalin, it is best to discuss this with your doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does methylphenidate affect weed?
Although there is little research on this topic, one study has found that methylphenidate – also known as Ritalin – may be less effective when combined with cannabis.
What drugs interact with methylphenidate?
There are some medications that you should not take when also taking Ritalin. These include:
- Furazolidon and Linezolid: antibiotics/anti-bacterials
- Moclobemide, Phenelzine, Tranylcypromine, and Bupropion: antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications
- Methylene Blue: Aids oxygen transport in blood
- Procarbazine: chemotherapy
- Rasagiline, Safinamide, Selegiline: Parkinson’s treatment
- Amifampridine: treat muscle diseases