Many people take cannabis for recreational or medicinal purposes. Cannabis contains psychoactive substances, so users may wonder whether it’s a depressant, a stimulant, a hallucinogen, or something else entirely.
A depressant is a drug with a relaxing quality. Depressants reduce muscle tension, anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Many weed users will report these effects, but the influence of cannabis is not quite so straightforward.
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC, is the main psychoactive component in cannabis. It is what sends marijuana users into a state of high through acting on specific cell receptors in the brain.
Different people may report varying effects after using cannabis. These include:
- A relaxing, soporific feeling, reduced anxiety and insomnia (depressant effect)
- Mood elevation, bliss, euphoria (stimulant effect)
- Heightened focus and clarity (hallucinogenic effect)
- So, is marijuana a depressant, a stimulant, or a hallucinogen? The short answer is that it depends.
Morning, Daytime, and Evening Strains
Experienced cannabis users know that not all strains are created equal. While a relaxing evening strain can be perfect way to wrap up your day, you probably don’t want to feel sluggish and sleepy as you start your morning routine.
Cannabis strains recommended for morning use are mostly sativa-dominant, such as Princeton and Herringbone. Sativa strains are typically high in THC and low in CBD (cannabidiol). They tend to induce an energizing, euphoric, and mentally stimulating effect.
Most strains recommended for daytime use are sativa-indica hybrids such as Balmoral or Penelope. These strains are lower in THC and higher in CBD, which gives them enhanced medicinal benefits. They can improve appetite and help manage a variety of conditions such as chronic pain or seizures.
Evening strains are all about relaxation and promoting deep, restful sleep. These strains are typically indica-dominant, such as Weaver or Bubba Kush. They are low in THC and especially high in CBD. Evening strains will counterbalance stress, pain, anxiety, and insomnia.
Each one of us has different levels of neurotransmitters—biochemical components involved in all brain and body functions, including mood and mental activity. Cannabis will alter the flow of neurotransmitters, but the exact effect for each person is hard to predict.
For example, slower brain function following the use of cannabis can be relaxing for some people but trigger an onset of depression in others. Some users may ingest a THC-high strain and only experience a mild mental stimulation, while others will report a full-blown hallucinogenic effect.
Other factors that may influence the effects of cannabis include:
- Form of ingestion: often, people will experience a more intense, longer-lasting high from consuming cannabis-infused edibles compared to smoking.
- Age: occasional users may be surprised to discover that a cannabis strain they enjoyed at 21 has a different effect on them when they are 35.
- Sex: some studies suggest that women need lower THC doses compared to men to experience a euphoric effect.
The bottom line is that you won’t know how your body will respond to cannabis until you try it. It’s probably better to start experimenting with moderate use of lower-THC strains.
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