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Is marijuana a depressant? What to know

Marijuana is a drug that many people take recreationally, often referring to it as weed. However, others sometimes use it medicinally to manage symptoms of chronic conditions. Some people may wonder whether marijuana is a depressant.

In this article, we explore different types of drug, including depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogens, and determine the categories to which marijuana belongs. We also discuss the effects that marijuana has on the body and mind.

Share on Pinterest Marijuana is a depressant, stimulant, and a hallucinogen.

Marijuana can have a depressant effect, but it is not only a depressant. It may also act as a stimulant or hallucinogen.

For this reason, marijuana is a:

  • depressant
  • stimulant
  • hallucinogen

Marijuana contains a psychoactive chemical called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is THC that alters people’s mental state when they use marijuana.

Smoking, vaping, or consuming marijuana affects every person differently. Marijuana may have a strong depressant effect for some people but not others.

Various types and strains of the plant may also produce different effects on the body and mind.

When people use marijuana, their lungs or stomach absorbs the THC into the bloodstream, which takes it to the brain and other organs.

Once THC reaches the brain, it acts on specific brain cell receptors. Here, marijuana can produce depressant, stimulant, and hallucinogenic effects.

Common examples of each include:

  • a sense of relaxation (depressant effect)
  • mild euphoria or elevated mood (stimulant effect)
  • heightened sensory perception (hallucinogenic effect)

Marijuana can have a range of effects, which fall into the following categories:

Depressant

Depressants are drugs that have a relaxing effect. They may reduce anxiety and muscle tension and make a person feel sleepy.

These effects occur because depressants calm the central nervous system and slow down brain function.

The depressant effects of marijuana include:

  • feeling relaxed
  • feeling less anxious
  • aiding sleep

The adverse side effects of depressants include:

  • slurred speech
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • slowed breathing
  • memory problems
  • poor concentration

Stimulant

Stimulants are drugs that increase alertness and elevate mood by targeting the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.

Dopamine influences a person’s mood, while norepinephrine affects:

  • blood vessels
  • blood pressure
  • heart rate
  • blood sugar levels
  • breathing

Taking stimulants, including marijuana, may also cause a high or euphoric feeling due to the effect of these drugs on dopamine.

Stimulants also cause physical symptoms, typically increasing the:

  • blood pressure
  • heart rate
  • breathing rate

Side effects of stimulants may include:

  • restlessness
  • anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • paranoia

Hallucinogen

Hallucinogens are drugs that alter a person’s perception of reality.

They may have these effects because they increase serotonin levels in the frontal cortex of the brain, which is the area responsible for mood, perception, and cognition.

Marijuana may, therefore, cause someone to have heightened sensory perception, resulting in them:

  • seeing brighter colors
  • hearing sounds differently
  • being more sensitive to touch

Heightened sensory perception is a mild form of hallucination that some people may find enjoyable.

Hallucinogens can also cause more intense symptoms that may be distressing. The possible adverse side effects of these drugs include:

  • nausea
  • increased heart rate
  • paranoia
  • powerful hallucinations

Examples of each drug type include:

Stimulants Depressants Hallucinogens
marijuana marijuana marijuana
amphetamines alcohol lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD or “acid”)
cocaine benzodiazepines dimethyltryptamine (DMT)
nicotine flunitrazepam (Rohypnol) psilocybin
caffeine gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) peyote

Although it is illegal in many states, marijuana is a common recreational drug.

Some people use prescription marijuana or self-medicate with the drug. While marijuana use is widespread, this drug does carry risks.

People may experience a range of side effects from the depressant, stimulant, and hallucinogenic properties of marijuana.

These side effects may include:

  • slurred speech
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • slowed breathing
  • memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • restlessness
  • anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • hallucinations
  • paranoia
  • nausea
  • increased heart rate

Some strains of marijuana are stronger than others. Without having a clear idea of a drug’s potency, a person may experience stronger effects than they expected.

People with depression or related mental health conditions may find that the depressant effects of marijuana make their symptoms worse.

Those who experience anxiety or panic attacks may also increase their risk of symptoms by using marijuana. However, others may find that marijuana reduces their anxiety.

Due to marijuana’s depressant effects, using it regularly can sometimes affect a person’s motivation and ability to complete daily tasks.

For some people, using marijuana may contribute to mental health problems. Recent research suggests that there is a link between marijuana use and an increased risk of psychotic disorder, which may cause delusions and hallucinations.

Marijuana affects everyone differently. People who use marijuana should be mindful of how it affects them personally and consider speaking to a doctor if they are experiencing any adverse symptoms.

Marijuana can act as a depressant, stimulant, and hallucinogen. Learn more about the effects of each type of drug here. We also cover the risks and side effects.

CANNABIS AS A HALLUCINOGEN?

I have been listening to some describe Cannabis as a hallucinogen. This is my response.

After 7 years working in this industry as a physician, I believe, as has been said before, cannabis is primarily a medicine with certain “side effects” that are pleasant and helpful for many patients. I would not openly classify cannabis as a hallucinogen any more than I would personally schedule it as Schedule I. To begin with, true hallucinations with cannabis are NOT common. As a clinical internist and cannabis “expert”, I rarely suggest doses of CBD rich, blended or THC rich medicine that are hallucinogenic. Mushrooms and many other psychedelics are great plants and amazing medicine in the right setting, but focussing on the psychedelic nature of cannabis, will do all of us more harm than good. It will do patients more harm than good. There is plenty of fear and ignorance out there. We do not need to change cannabis from a scary Schedule I “narcotic” to a psychedelic compound. I KNOW that psychedelic properties of both THC alone or in combination with their whole plant counterparts (Terpenes, Flavonoids, other Alkaloids) can be very hallucinogenic. In addition, when one gets about 60 mg of WHOLE PLANT CBD, hallucinations and out of body experiences do occur; I have done it a few times, but these, at least currently, are not the primary uses of this plant derived medicine.

We believe cannabis is an amazing plant. A very safe plant. Although we know that psychedelic experiences can be nearly curative for many psych disorders, this is clearly not what we need to focus on right now. In CURRENT therapeutic doses for the vast majority of patients, the use and most benefits of the medicine are not achieved at high enough doses for out of body experiences to occur. The high dose benefits of out of body experiences are useful; I have two patients who are using whole plant CBD in high enough doses to achieve this. On the other hand, this is NOT what most medical patients are looking for.

This is a plant that can and is helping us with everything from anxiety, pain, insomnia, cancer, auto-immune disease, MS, other neurological disorders and many, many more.

I view cannabis primarily as a healing medicine with certain side effects of stoniness and psychedelia that can be greatly taken advantage of with the right person in the right setting.

With regard to the huge battles of fear and ignorance, I have found over the past seven years that showing patients dosed CBD/THC/Terpene extractions to be very reassuring and fear reducing. We must avail ourselves of everything modern science has to offer to allow us to treat patients with dosed oral-buccal cannabis medicine. In my experience when patients see dosed spray bottles that allow them to feel well and NOT “altered”, their the walls of fear and ignorance. begin to crack and weaken.

Although I do love smoking cannabis. However, when I pull out a dosed CBD rich bottle and offer some to a guest (only patients of course), their eyes open wide and the fear and apprehension on their faces melts away.

To help make this forum as professional as possible, let’s begin talking dosing? Did you know that 2 mg of whole plant CBD will kill anxiety for 8-12 hours leaving the patient focussed and clear minded the entire day.

Cannabis is a plant. Of greater importance is that is is not like tree bark we can make a medicine from. It is an amazing plant with thousands of variants. The plant averages around 500 molecules and when the balance of even ONE of these occurs, the medicine changes a little – or a lot. It is only with science (remember that old term?) that we can measure and study the complex nature of this plant and offer many solutions to a species, desperately in need of many new and safe medications.

I have been listening to some describe Cannabis as a hallucinogen. This is my response. ]]>