With a growing body of research on the potential therapeutic effects of cannabinoid compounds, the question of the proper classification of marijuana continues to pop up in most legalization debates. Is marijuana a stimulant? Or a depressant? Or a hallucinogen?
The multiple chemical compounds in cannabis elicit different effects on the brain and the body. Marijuana can create a euphoric feeling and can thus be identified as a stimulant–a class of drugs that elevate mood and alertness. It can also result in delusion and hallucinations, which are common among hallucinogens. Research also shows that marijuana can make you feel slow, sleepy, and relaxed, effects common among depressants.
This article explores the different classifications of drugs and breaks down the categories under which marijuana falls. You will also learn about the effects of marijuana on the body and brain.
What Is a Stimulant?
Stimulants are a class of drugs known for increasing alertness and elevating mood by influencing the interaction of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter with a huge impact on mood regulation. Norepinephrine affects the blood vessels, blood pressure, blood sugar, breathing, and heart rate.
The net effect of a stimulant is feeling more awake, active, alert, confident, or energetic. In lower doses, you may experience,
- Increased alertness
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
In higher doses, the stimulant can cause,
Long-term use of stimulants can also lead to dependence.
What Is a Depressant?
Depressants are a class of drugs that reduce stimulation and arousal, creating a relaxing effect. They slow down the messaging between the body and the brain by calming the nervous system. The net result is feeling more relaxed, sleepy, and less anxious. You may also feel less inhibited.
When taken in low doses, depressants can cause,
- Slowed reaction time
- Increased relaxation
- Slowed breathing
- Reduced anxiety and stress
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
You may also experience adverse effects when consuming depressants in high doses:
- Slurred speech
- Slowed breathing
Over time, you can develop tolerance to depressants which can lead to dependence.
What Is a Hallucinogen?
Hallucinogens are a broad category of drugs that changes a person’s perception of their thoughts, surroundings, and feelings. They change the way the brain cells communicate with one another, causing hallucinations of images or sensations that appear real but aren’t.
Classic hallucinogens interrupt the communication between the brain’s chemical systems and the spinal cord. Others influence the interaction with serotonin, a hormone that plays a critical role in sensory perception, mood, intestinal muscle control, and sleep. Dissociative hallucinogens interfere with the action of glutamate, which regulates pain perception, emotion, learning, and memory.
The net effect of taking hallucinogens is:
- Delusions and hallucinations
- Increased heart rate
- Intensified sensory perception
- Uncoordinated muscle movements
Some of the adverse effects include:
- Excessive sweating
You can also develop a tolerance after long-term use of hallucinogens.
Is Marijuana a Stimulant, Depressant, or Hallucinogen?
Technically, marijuana is a depressant, hallucinogen, and stimulant all rolled into one sweet-smelling bud. The effects that you experience after consuming weed depend on several factors, including but not limited to,
- Unique chemical profile of the marijuana strain
- Composition of cannabinoids and terpenes
- Body’s metabolism and tolerance levels
- Age, gender, and sex
- Delivery method and dosage
This means that the same strain of marijuana can produce varying effects among users.
Is Marijuana a Stimulant?
Like caffeine, marijuana can stimulate and speed up your nervous system. Research shows that Tetrahydrocannabinol(THC) interactions with the CB1 receptors can fire up dopamine release, resulting in a euphoric feeling. However, dopamine release is restricted to low THC levels.
Clinical studies also show that cannabinoids at low concentrations can also increase the release of serotonin. However, long-term use or high doses of THC can have the opposite effects.
Anecdotal research shows that THC-heavy strains with fresh, citrusy terpenes can energize and stimulate. One of the most common weed strains that can help you create an energizing high includes:
The potent Sativa strain originally from South Africa is widely accepted as one of the most potent energizing cultivars. It has an earthy feel and a vibrant aftertaste, earning a deserved compassion as the espresso of cannabis.
Is Marijuana a Depressant?
Marijuana can also produce relaxation effects like other depressants such as alcohol and benzodiazepines. Research shows that THC and other cannabinoids significantly influence γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate levels in the central nervous system(CNS).
GABA is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Animal clinical trials showed treatment with cannabinoids leads to a spike in GABA and glutamate. Additionally, human clinical studies involving cannabidiol show that CBD causes an increase in GABA. As GABA activity increases, the CNS slows down, leading to relaxation sensations.
A popular weed strain that you can use to relax and sleep is:
Northern lights is an indica strain known for its relaxation properties. It’s crossed the Afghani and the Thai. Anecdotal reports show that it also has euphoric properties and is popularly used to relieve symptoms of depression, stress, and insomnia.
Is Marijuana a Hallucinogen?
Marijuana is often stereotyped for its hallucinogenic properties. There’s a continuing debate on whether marijuana has psychedelic effects, with empirical reports in controlled settings showing that the effects are rare. The hallucinogenic effects are typically recorded after administering pure delta-9 THC rather than whole-plant cannabis.
While marijuana doesn’t always have hallucinogenic properties, anecdotal evidence shows that the experience is typically reported in strains with high THC content. A recent study also showed that the effects differ from those obtained from other psychedelic compounds, with more muted effects on thought and emotions.
One of the popular marijuana strains that can give you a psychedelic feeling is the
This Sativa hybrid is a perfect strain if you wish to have a trippy high. Named after the Psychedelic LSD, this strain earns a reputation for giving users potent euphoric and cerebral high. It has a THC content of approximately 24%.
Marijuana can fall under different categories of drugs, including stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens. The effects vary widely, depending on several factors, such as body tolerance, weed potency and dosage, chemical properties of the stain, and delivery method. You can visit our blog for more information on the effects of marijuana and the potential risks and benefits of use.