Is weed a psychedelic Is weed a psychedelic

Is Weed a Psychedelic?


It’s no surprise that cannabis is rich in psychoactive compounds like THC, but does this make weed psychedelic? If you’ve ever tried a potent pot brownie, you are no stranger to the experience of feeling trippy when high. These effects can be incredibly euphoric and offer a shift in perspective that can change your outlook and uplift your spirit. 

Researchers are now exploring the neuroscience of cannabis and have found that weed impacts the part of our brain associated with mind-altering effects. Some of these experiences can be described as minor perceptual effects, like vivid colors, and some major effects, like distorted shapes and textures. 

What may be even more exciting than creating a fun, trippy experience is that these same effects may come with additional therapeutic actions.

The mind-altering and mood-stabilizing actions of marijuana offer a safe and effective option for relieving stress, soothing anxiety, and managing symptoms of depression. Come along with us as we unravel the amazing mysteries of cannabis and psychedelic medicine. 

Is weed a psychedelic, can weed be psychedelic

What is a psychedelic substance?

Psychedelics encompass a wide variety of drugs, including serotonergic hallucinogens, empathogen-entactogens, dissociatives, and atypical hallucinogens/psychoactive. 

The most widely recognized of these are the serotonergic hallucinogens, also known as classic hallucinogens - these are the ones that make you feel ‘trippy when high.’ Substances like LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin (magic mushrooms) are some of the more popular drugs in this category. 

Due to their high affinity for 5-HT receptors, serotonergic hallucinogens affect neurotransmission pathways that are responsible for serotonin uptake and regulation. 

Unlike other psychedelic drugs, cannabis can fall into a few different categories depending on the dose and strain profile. Cannabis can be classified as a depressant, hallucinogen, or stimulant, depending on its effects and characteristics.

Cannabis strains high in THC will often have a higher chance of inducing a psychedelic effect. Furthermore, strains high in aromatic compounds like terpinolene or myrcene may intensify the effects of THC, leading to a unique psychoactive experience. Some strains already known for their psychoactive qualities include: 

  • Durban Poison

  • Thai Stick

  • Amnesia Haze

  • Panama Red

  • Malawi Gold

  • Cosmic Bomb

Cannabis offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience the therapeutic effects on your mind and body that psychedelics can offer without the commitment to a lengthy trip or recovery time. 

How cannabis differs from other psychedelics

Though the body metabolizes cannabis differently than DMT or mushrooms - there are some similarities in how cannabis and serotonergic hallucinogens interact with the body’s nervous system. Research has already shown that CBD can activate the 5-HT1A receptors, resulting in physiological and behavioral responses to stress. Though CBD does not come with any psychoactive effects, it is possible that cannabis and hemp products can offer some of the beneficial effects of psychedelics without the long-lasting and trippy effects of other substances. 

When it comes to THC, there are some concerns about long-term use and the potential risk of schizophrenia-like effects, especially for individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions. However, many of these risks can be mitigated by taking tolerance breaks, keeping your dose within a safe threshold, and consulting a trusted medical professional if you may be at risk for any psychological effects. 

One of the primary factors that sets cannabis apart from other psychedelics is all about timing! Not only is the duration of effects significantly shorter (we are talking 4-8 hours vs. 6-12 hours), but the after-care and recovery time is almost non-existent. On some high-dose edibles, you may wake up the next day feeling a little groggy, but with most cannabis products, you won’t experience any hangover. 

Some psychedelic hangovers can last for days, with feelings of depression, forgetfulness, and lack of concentration. Cannabis helps regulate nervous system function and promotes mental clarity and mood stability. 

Experiencing psychedelic effects from cannabis may not be as vivid as on other substances. For instance, you may experience auditory hallucinations, but it is less likely to experience visual hallucinations the way someone might on LSD. This difference makes cannabis a more mild option for anyone looking to experience psychedelic effects for the first time. Though you won’t experience as intense sensory and hallucinatory effects, cannabis will often come with some softer psychedelic effects: 

  • Open-minded thinking and increased creativity

  • Connected-ness and empathy

  • Exaggerated sensory experience (taste, smell, sight, hearing, touch)

  • Humor, playfulness, and lack of inhibitions 

These simple shifts in the state of mind can offer a profound change in the way we perceive ourselves, events in our lives, or the priorities and conflicts that matter that we face. It is subtle but can have positive and long-lasting benefits.

The science behind cannabis’ trippy effects

smoke cannabis, trippy effects of smoking cannabis

Based on current medical research, evidence suggests that THC-heavy cannabis strains may be able to elicit psychedelic effects that should be further explored for their medicinal potential. If proven effective, cannabis, and THC specifically, could be used as an adjunctive treatment for some psychiatric disorders and as an alternative to other traditional psychedelic medications. 

In a review of cannabis research data, it was reported in multiple studies that participants had cannabis-induced both perceptual changes and visual hallucinations.

Though we are still uncovering details about the exact causes of these effects, scientists believe these stem from the way that THC is so similar in structure to the brain chemical anandamide.

When THC is metabolized, it can fit into nervous system receptors that cause THC to alter normal brain communication. This can lead to mindful problem-solving, creativity, and finding deeper connections to yourself and others. 

The healing potential of psychedelics

Carl Sagan once described cannabis’ healing potential as, 

“... a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”

This same sentiment prevails in the scientific community as researchers begin to unveil the medicinal potential of cannabis and other psychedelics for the treatment of PTSD and depression

In the same way that cannabis offers nervous system regulation that supports mood stability and eases anxiety, it may also offer relief from symptoms of mental illness and chronic pain. The psychedelic effects of cannabis have been shown to help alter mood and create intimacy and connection between people - in a way that transcends other therapeutic drugs. 

By opening our minds to alternative ways of thought, we can support those healing from mental and emotional trauma and change our relationship with chronic stressors. Beyond the benefits to mindset, cannabis provides additional uses that can continue to improve quality of life: 

  • Managing chemotherapy side effects

  • Pain and symptom relief of multiple sclerosis spasticity 

  • Relieve chronic pain and inflammation

  • Improving sleep quality

  • Stabilizing hormone production and mood 

  • Protecting the brain from stress 

All of these components make cannabis that much more powerful as a psychedelic medicine. While there are many powerful plant medicines used in the treatment of depression, addiction, and grief, cannabis is one of the only ones that does not require recovery. Rather than depleting the body, cannabis helps regulate the healthy function of the nervous system and acts as a neuro-protectant against stress. These amazing qualities set cannabis apart and make it accessible to most people, including those suffering from chronic health issues. 

Are edibles psychedelic?

Weed edibles are slightly different from vaporized or inhaled cannabis products as they undergo extensive hepatic first-pass metabolism when consumed. This converts the THC into 11-OH-THC in the liver, resulting in a longer-lasting and more intensified psychoactive experience. 

This could make edible cannabis feel more psychedelic than other forms of cannabis, particularly when the drug is consumed in higher doses. It is best to use high doses of THC cautiously. Though it can be fun, doses of marijuana of 10-50 mg or higher may result in additional side effects like dizziness, dry mouth, and nausea.

Using psychedelics responsibly

Choosing to explore psychoactive therapeutically requires some discretion, as it is still an emerging field in medicine. We know that mixing cannabis with other serotonergic psychedelics will lead to more intensified psychedelic effects.

Though you may be safe from respiratory or cardiovascular complications on psychedelics, it is crucial to practice a sense of safety as set out by psychedelic harm reduction experts. 

Here are a few basic tips to keep you safe when dabbling in psychedelics: 

  1. Create a safe space 

  2. Do not trip alone; consider having a sober friend present for support

  3. Choose a dose based on your personal needs

  4. Set aside the time for your trip and recovery if necessary

  5. Set up your ideal aftercare 

Additionally, you can also check out resources from groups like Dance Safe and Zendo on further ways to enjoy psychedelics and prevent distress. We wish you a safe and healing journey as you explore the amazing world of cannabis and psychedelics! 



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