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Is Marijuana a Psychedelic?

The answer is not as simple as you may think!

The simple answer to is marijuana a psychedelic is yes and no. If asked some people will say that marijuana is a psychedelic because it alters consciousness and sometimes creates hallucinations. Some people will say that it is not a psychedelic because it is classified differently and is not a hallucinogen. In order to understand why marijuana is a psychedelic, it is important to understand the properties of a psychedelic and the properties of marijuana including the effects of both.

Properties of marijuana

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s publication, “DrugFacts Marijuana,” marijuana is any part of the hemp plant that or cannabis sativa. This definition includes the stems, leaves, and flowers. It contains the chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. It is classed by drug enforcement agencies as cannabis and it is the only drug in that class. It does not function like any of the other drugs or medications that are commonly used. It is in some respects a legal medical treatment and in others an illicit drug.

Types of marijuana

There are two main types of marijuana as well as hundreds of strains and crossbreeds from these two main types. Some of the names for these strains and crossbreeds vary from region to region and reach into the thousands. The two main types are Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa. Cannabis Sativa is the most common, most recognized, and the most used type. People use both for medicinal purposes such as to reduce pain and to increase the appetite. Doctors prescribe Medical marijuana for chronic pain and some cancers.

Effects of marijuana on the brain

marijuana effects

Marijuana can cause neurological changes.

Both strains of marijuana have similar effects on the brain. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, it over stimulates several sections of the brain that have a large amount of receptors. The THC binds to these receptors causing:

  • heightened or altered senses such as brighter lights and colors,
  • changes in emotional state or mood,
  • altered states of mind and cognition,
  • difficulty solving problems almost to the point of confusion,
  • heightened or altered sense of time passing, and
  • heavier body movements.

Many people argue over the individual effects of each strain. These are the basic effects that any strain of marijuana has to a greater or lesser degree.

Side effects of marijuana

Like any drug, marijuana has several side effects. Some of these side effects are why people use the drug while others are more dangerous. The main side effects of marijuana are:

  • euphoria,
  • memory issues,
  • lethargy and drowsiness,
  • loss of motivation and interest,
  • increased appetite,
  • lung irritation,
  • sedation,
  • dry mouth,
  • increased heart rate and blood pressure, and
  • bloodshot eyes.

Long term side effects are permanent memory and perceptual impairment. It is important to note that there are other side effects but most can be attributed to other issues such as smoking, other drugs, other health issues, and chronic conditions. Some people state that marijuana like psychedelics cause hallucinations but it does not typically cause them.

Properties of a Psychedelic

Psychedelics are an informal class within the broader umbrella class of hallucinogens. A psychedelic is defined as a substance that heightens cognition, raises consciousness, heightens awareness, and causes hallucinations. It is an informal subclass of substances in the class of hallucinogens and mainly affects serotonin.

Types of psychedelics

There are several types of psychedelics. Each of the types has slightly different properties. These types are:

  • Classic psychedelics – mescaline, DMT, and mushrooms,
  • Empathogen-enactogens – MDMA, MDA, and MDEA,
  • Dissociatives – Ketamine
  • Cannabinoids – THC this technically is in two classes, cannabis and psychedelics,
  • Others – Salvia divinorum

It is important to note that the term psychedelic is an informal classification. All of these fall under the definition of hallucinogens except for cannabiniods, they are not thought of as hallucinogens.

Effects of a psychedelic

The effects of psychedelics differ widely depending on the type of psychedelic. Even though it is a loose classification, there are some commonalities. These are:

  • altered states of consciousness,
  • distortion of time,
  • euphoria of some type,
  • changes in cognitions, and
  • changes in mental state.

Side effects of a psychedelic

The side effects of psychedelics vary depending on the type of psychedelic. Each type has its own short and long term side effects. Most include some form of euphoria, altered state of consciousness, and physical issues. The physical issues range from rapid heart rate to slowed heart rate and respiration.

Comparing marijuana and psychedelics

Under the definitions strict of marijuana and psychedelics, they are two different substances not chemically related. Their actions in the body are different as are their effects on the body. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Drug Enforcement Administration, they are two different classes of drug. It is possible to argue that because of this difference in classification it is not a psychedelic. If you take the effects of each into consideration the essential ingredient in cannabis, acts like a psychedelic. Psychedelics cause what is termed expansion of consciousness, heightened cognition or thinking, and hallucinations. Cannabinoids do the same thing in different ways. Cannabinoids are unique to marijuana. Essentially the practical answer to is marijuana a psychedelic is yes, but not in the same way that LSD, MDMA, and others in that class. It contains many of the characteristics, properties, and effects that fall under the definitions of both. This is probably why marijuana is in a class on its own.

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