Cannabis is one of the most unique yet misunderstood plants in all of human history. It has undergone periods of time where it has been deeply revered, praised, shunned, villainized, and more. In recent times, cannabis (and marijuana specifically) has become once again heralded for its uniquely relaxing and psychoactive properties. When consumed from safe and reliable sources, it has the potential for greatness. Yet many consumers are a bit lost when it comes to the actual classification of cannabis: is it a stimulant? A depressant? A hallucinogenic? Or all three? In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the definitions of all three and exploring exactly which (or all) of these classifications apply directly to cannabis.
The Four Major Drug Types
In order to classify cannabis, it’s crucial to understand the four major drug classifications. Based on their effects and properties, a drug can be clearly labeled and better understood.
Depressants: Slow Down
Depressants are responsible for slowing down brain function. Many people confuse “depressants” as something that makes you depressed. While this may be true depending on the user’s reaction, the word depressant specifically refers to something that slows your brain down. Some common depressants would be alcohol, the infamous Xanax (alprazolam), and sedatives (barbiturates).
Stimulants: Speed Up!
Stimulants get their name due to how they help “stimulate” the user into greater alertness, energy, and elevated mood. The most familiar stimulant is caffeine, typically found in coffee and energy drinks. Stimulants are extremely addictive and can induce feelings of uneasiness as well as hyperactivity. Some examples of stimulants would be methamphetamine, cocaine, and ADHD prescription drugs.
Hallucinogens: Is That Real?
Hallucinogens can cause a change in the way your mind perceives reality. This is done by interfering with the natural way your brain’s nerve cells communicate with each other. You may have heard stories about paint dripping off walls, impossible feats that suddenly seem tangible, seeing things that aren’t there, and so forth. Some well-known hallucinogens include psilocybin (magic mushrooms), LSD (acid), and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (Ecstasy).
Opiates (not to be confused with opioids) are plant-derived compounds from the poppy plant. These compounds are extremely successful as painkillers but can be incredibly addictive and leave lasting effects on your brain. When used properly in post-op surgeries and other medically-prescribed situations, opiates can be a great source of comfort. Yet many people find themselves unable to cope without them, leading to great anguish and frustration once they are no longer a medical necessity. Some of the most famous opiates are morphine, prescription painkillers, and of course, heroin.
So…Which One Best Describes Weed?
Marijuana doesn’t fall exactly into any of these four categories. Since the effects vary based on the consumer, weed can actually be classified as three of them: depressant, stimulant, or hallucinogen. Since cannabis is a different plant completely separate from opium, it will never be classified as an opiate, despite having the ability to help manage physical discomfort. Let’s examine how weed falls into the three categories and some effects you may experience, thus helping you decide (based on your reaction) which category cannabis most closely aligns with.
Marijuana: The Depressant
We defined depressants as slowing down your brain and other nervous system functions. As such, depressants can help tense muscles feel more relaxed as well calm your nerves. If you suffer from sleep issues (insomnia or trouble falling asleep), mental uneasiness (stress, overthinking, etc.), and muscle spasms (epilepsy), cannabis can be a godsend. Depressants can also induce some unpleasant short-term side effects: nausea, disorientation, blurred vision, slurred speech, lightheadedness, dizziness, short-term memory loss, reduced mobility/motor coordination, dizziness, and others. Cannabis also carries some of these negative side effects, but can usually be quelled by laying down, drinking some water, or other personal remedies.
Depressants are typically not as addictive as the other three categories. Yet even with marijuana use, your body can build up a tolerance that will require you to consume higher dosages much more frequently. To combat building up a tolerance, try taking a break every once in a while or ceasing to use weed for specific reasons. For example, if you like a few tokes before going to sleep, you may want to hold off for a day or two just to make sure your body doesn’t only associate sleep with smoking weed immediately before.
Marijuana: The Stimulant
In sharp contrast to depressants, stimulants make you feel more awake. Rather than feeling relaxed and calm, stimulants can cause rapid breathing and heightened heart rate. Some benefits of weed as a stimulant include mood improvement, higher energy (especially sativa blends), increased attention span, and more. Some common negative side effects of stimulants that weed also has includes increased uneasiness, heightened body temperature, and racing heart.
While some consumers may feel more relaxed and comfortable after consuming weed, others may feel uncomfortably aware of their surroundings and feel overly energetic. This is why it’s encouraged to use small quantities of cannabis and gradually increase the consumed amount until you find your sweet spot A benefit of weed used as a stimulant is that is has fewer risks than both meth and coke in that it won’t leave as strong and long-lasting effect on your mind and body. Similar to depressants, weed users can develop a higher tolerance that requires higher doses and more frequent use.
Marijuana: The Hallucinogen
One of the most difficult stereotypes surrounding weed is that it causes hallucinogenic effects. However, hallucinating while high on weed is extremely rare and doesn’t occur consistently amongst users. Possible but not plausible, if you will. So why would weed even come close to this category? Hallucinogens can alter your perception of reality via sensory, visual, or auditory perception. For example, you may feel like time has slowed down while high, resulting in you feeling like hours have passed when it’s only been minutes. Some common side effects of hallucinogens as well as weed include nausea, dry mouth, loss of motor skill, increased uneasiness, functions, heightened heart rate, and a detached sense of reality for both self and environment.
Since cannabis use affects the consumer differently, you may experience many of these effects. Interestingly enough, cannabis use can help alleviate quite a few of these symptoms as well. While it’d be a stretch to label marijuana as a hallucinogen, it does cause many side effects associated with hallucinogens. Try to reduce the risk of building a tolerance to weed by taking a “dry spell” every so often to help your body reset and enjoy the sweet spot dosage without needing to increase the amount and frequency.
Are There Any Long-Term Effects?
We’ve mentioned repeatedly that one of the most common effects of marijuana use is building up a tolerance. Unchecked tolerance can eventually lead to the user developing a full-blown substance use disorder. This can also occur if you tend to use cannabis and caffeine simultaneously. Some early indications of substance use disorder includes increased dosages to achieve the same effects, prolonged periods of thinking when you can use marijuana next, skipping important events due to being high, obsessing over how much weed you have left and when to buy next, ignoring potential pitfalls of marijuana use, and consuming it despite not needing to. Marijuana is an excellent way to kick back and relax; however, it should be used to compliment your lifestyle, not you readjusting your lifestyle to cater to weed.
There are four categories of drug classifications: Stimulant, Depressant, Hallucinogen, or Opiates. The latter can never be used to describe weed (as it comes from the cannabis plant) but the three former categories can all be used to describe its effects. Marijuana and THC affect the user differently based on personal factors such as previous exposure to THC, metabolism, age, weight, gender, and many others. You may feel energetic and uplifted, drowsy and relaxed, or experience a change in how you perceive reality. Certain strains may influence these effects to some extent (i.e., sativa, indica, and hybrid). Cannabis can also help ease the overall burden of both mental and physical issues, such as sleep, mood, uneasiness, eating, energy, and much more. However you use cannabis, make sure you take a break every once in a while to prevent building up a tolerance or leading towards a substance use disorder.
Here at TwoHawk Extracts, we understand that your relationship with cannabis is an important one. All of our products have been sourced from reliable industrial hemp sources and have been tested thoroughly by third-party independent labs to ensure purity and potency. You can view these lab results by clicking on the embedded link in each product description or by scanning the QR code printed on the product’s packaging. Browse our selection of gummies, softgels, tinctures, disposable vapes and vape cartridges available in Delta-8 THC, Farm Bill Compliant Delta-9 THC, HHC, and THC-O . in both sample size and full-size packages. In our next article, we’ll be touching on an interesting topic: the famous 4/20 holiday and how it came to be! Check back soon for this and other fascinating articles surrounding the incredible world of cannabis; we hope to see you there!