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Is Marijuana a Hallucinogen?

Marijuana is the dried flower from the plant called Cannabis sativa.[1] Marijuana is federally illegal, however, some states allow people to use it recreationally and medicinally. When people use marijuana they might smoke the flower, vaporize an oil made from the plant, or eat the substance after it is cooked into pastries or candies.

Also referred to as cannabis, weed, pot, mary jane, grass, bud, and a variety of other slang terms, marijuana is the most commonly used psychotropic drug in the United States. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Among people aged 12 or older in 2021, 18.7% (or about 52.5 million people) reported using cannabis in the past 12 months.”[2]

People who use marijuana recreationally consume it to experience a wide range of mood and mind-altering effects, including euphoria, relaxation, an increase in creativity, and random laughter. However, marijuana also has medicinal uses like pain relief, improvement in insomnia, and decreased nausea. 

Because of the wide range of effects that marijuana can cause, many people are confused about whether marijuana is a depressant, stimulant, opioid, or hallucinogen. 

Understanding the Different Drug Classifications 

There are tons of different substances in the world, each one causing different effects. However, some of the substances belong to the same class of drugs because while their effects are varied, they are similar in mechanism and action. Being aware of the four main drug classifications can help you better understand whether marijuana is a hallucinogen or not.

The four main drug classifications include:[3,4,5,6]

  • Depressants – Depressants are substances that slow down activity in your brain. This causes the suppression of certain nerve signals, causing feelings of relaxation. Examples of depressant drugs include benzodiazepines like Xanax (alprazolam) and barbiturates like amobarbital. 
  • Stimulants – Stimulants are drugs that increase activity in your brain, resulting in an increase in mood, alertness, and energy levels. Examples of stimulants include prescription amphetamines like Adderall and illicit drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine.
  • Opioids – Opioids are potent pain-relieving drugs that can also cause feelings of euphoria. Most opioids are legal to use when you receive a prescription, like morphine or hydrocodone. However, there is an illicit opioid known as heroin. 
  • Hallucinogens – Hallucinogens are a class of drugs that alter your state of consciousness and cause hallucinations or delusions. Examples of these substances include LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline, and PCP. 

Is Marijuana Considered a Hallucinogen?

When it comes to classifying marijuana, things can get tricky. Because marijuana affects each person differently, it can produce symptoms that align with depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogens. The only classification that marijuana does not meet is opioids, as it interacts with the brain differently than substances like oxycodone and hydrocodone. 

Depressant Effects of Weed

Some people who use marijuana experience symptoms synonymous with depressant drugs. These effects include:

  • Relaxation
  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness and drowsiness 
  • Muscle relaxation 
  • Short-term memory loss 

Because weed can act as a depressant, many people use it to relieve anxiety or help them fall asleep during bouts of insomnia. 

Stimulant Effects of Cannabis

Some individuals may find that marijuana causes symptoms similar to stimulant drugs. For example, cannabis can make you experience an elevated mood, anxiety, paranoia, and a racing heartbeat. 

Hallucinogenic Effects of Marijuana 

Lastly, marijuana can act as a hallucinogen as well. Some people experience the following symptoms when they use cannabis:[7]

  • Unsteady gait and loss of balance 
  • Difficulty staying awake
  • Dizziness 
  • Nausea 
  • Tingling sensations in the body 
  • Altered auditory and visual perceptions
  • Out-of-body experiences 
  • Increased sensitivity to sound 
  • Seeing unusual patterns

It is important to note that it is most common for marijuana to cause symptoms similar to hallucinogenic drugs among individuals with mental health conditions because of the way the substance interacts with certain receptors in their brains that are already altered by unstable brain chemistry. 

Is Marijuana Addictive?

It is widely known that many depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogenic drugs are addictive. Marijuana can act as any of these drug classifications, so it’s easy to theorize that weed could be addictive as well. In fact, there have been numerous studies discussing the possibility of habit-forming and addictive properties of cannabis.

Most people agree that marijuana is an addictive substance. Long-term use of the substance can lead to dependency, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms among individuals who suddenly stop consuming the drug. 

According to the CDC, “approximately 3 in 10 people who use marijuana have marijuana use disorder.”[8] 

Many people who frequently use marijuana are suffering from a dependency on the drug and experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it.

Finding Help for Marijuana Abuse and Addiction 

If you or a loved one suffer from a marijuana addiction, attending a drug rehab program can help. Long-term marijuana addiction can affect your ability to function in your daily life and cause symptoms of a pre-existing mental health condition to worsen. 

To learn more about our marijuana addiction treatment program, contact Mandala Healing Center today.