Is Marijuana a Stimulant or Depressant?

Marijuana (also known as weed, or pot) refers to the dried flower, leaves, and seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. It contains mind-altering ingredients and has both medical and recreational uses in states where it is legal. Possessing and using marijuana is illegal in South Carolina.



Marijuana is a plant. Most people use the leaves, oil, and other parts of the plant for medicinal and recreational purposes. It can lead to pleasurable side effects that may soothe chronic pain and other symptoms.

Common ways of using marijuana include:

  • Smoking or vaping
  • Brewing as a tea
  • Consuming in food
  • As capsules or supplements

A few of the ingredients are psychoactive, and the potency and balance vary depending on the plant.


Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical that causes most of the psychoactive effects. It functions similarly to the cannabinoid chemicals that the body naturally makes. These receptors in the brain are associated with coordination, pleasure, thinking, memory, and time perception. THC attaches itself to these receptors, affecting a person’s coordination, happiness, thoughts, memory, and perception of time.

Effects on the Body

Is marijuana a stimulant or depressant? Surprisingly, the answer is both. THC creates a euphoric feeling by stimulating the brain to release dopamine. It also interferes with the hippocampus’s ability to process information, which is why marijuana users struggle with short-term memory.

Marijuana can also lead to delusions and hallucinations. On average, THC’s effects last up to two hours, beginning up to 30 minutes after ingesting, depending on the method. Even once the perceived high ends, the psychomotor impairment may persist.


Marijuana’s effects make it popular; it’s considered one of the most common illicit drugs out there today. However, it can lead to difficulties for those with mental health disorders. For example, THC can cause a relapse of schizophrenic symptoms.

Another risk with THC is the impact on motor skills. Consuming marijuana impairs driving and similar tasks for three hours. People who use marijuana should not drive until it’s established they’re capable of handling complex motor tasks.

Using marijuana at a young age can also lead to additional long-term problems, though studies on chronic effects are lacking. Some side effects include memory and cognition impairment.

Effects of Marijuana

Experts classify drugs based on their properties and effects. They generally fall into one of the following classifications:

  • Depressants: Depressants, such as Xanax, alcohol, and barbiturates, slow down your brain function.
  • Stimulants: Stimulants, such as cocaine, meth, and ADHD prescription drugs, increase alertness and elevate your mood.
  • Hallucinogens: Hallucinogens, such as LSD and MDMA, impact the brain’s communication cells, altering a person’s perception of reality.
  • Opiates: Opiates, such as prescription painkillers, morphine, and heroin, rapidly produce euphoria and can have long-term effects on the brain.

Is Marijuana a Stimulant or Depressant?

Is cannabis a depressant or a stimulant? The truth is that marijuana’s place in these categories isn’t as clear-cut as you might imagine. Effects can vary between people and different strains cause different results.

Marijuana as a Depressant

Cannabis affects the nervous system and impacts brain function, relaxing the muscles and calming your nerves. Over time, you can build up a tolerance to THC, which means you would need more at a time to get the same effects. You can also become dependent on marijuana with chronic use.

Marijuana as a Stimulant

Stimulants produce the opposite effect, increasing blood pressure and heart rate. Cannabis is sometimes considered a stimulant since it makes you feel more alert, energetic, and elevates your mood, especially shortly after consuming them. It is possible to become dependent on marijuana for its mood-boosting effects.

Marijuana as a Hallucinogen

Hallucinogens cause false perceptions of events, senses, or objects. Many think cannabis produces hallucinogenic effects, but they’re actually a rare occurrence. That said, time distortion is a form of hallucination and can occur after using marijuana. 

Therefore, the true answer to “is cannabis a depressant or a stimulant” is that it depends on the person and the strain. Some people feel relaxed and sleepy, while others feel alert and more awake.

Interactions with Other Substances

It is widespread practice for some people to lace marijuana with other drugs, including cocaine, especially to bulk the original product to sell for more profits. Other sold-by-weight drugs may be laced with other substances for the same purpose; for example, it’s not uncommon for drug dealers to dilute cocaine with flour. Others lace marijuana to alter its psychoactive effects.

Cannabis might be mixed with any number of psychoactive drugs, including:

  • PCP
  • Heroin
  • LSD
  • Meth
  • Ketamine
  • Cocaine


PCP is a dangerous, dissociative drug that many add to marijuana to create a more potent psychoactive product. It isn’t uncommon for someone to add PCP to the mix without telling anyone that their cannabis has been altered, but most individuals selling this combination of drugs don’t try to hide this fact. Marijuana with PCP in it is known by several names, including wet weed, superweed, fry, and dusted weed.

PCP-laced cannabis can lead to deleterious effects, including:

  • Respiratory issues
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Aggression
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • The potential to develop long-term neurological conditions


Those who smoke marijuana laced with heroin tend to develop potentially severe symptoms, including:

  • Extreme lethargy and relaxation
  • Confusion
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Reduced breathing rate

The double-drug effect may even depress the person into unconsciousness. Obviously, heroin is dangerous all on its own; consuming too much heroin can be fatal. People who don’t regularly use the drug will have a much lower tolerance to it than those who do, leading to a greater risk of overdose or other severe side effects.


People who lace cannabis with cocaine, including its crack form, usually do so to create a unique set of psychoactive symptoms. The combination of the sedative effects of marijuana and the more energetic feeling of cocaine creates a different effect. It’s most common to combine these drugs for personal use; although there are scattered news reports of it occurring, it is not usually a drug combination sold together.

Someone who smokes marijuana without being aware of its cocaine contribution report several negative reactions once they realize they have unexpectedly consumed both drugs. Further, cocaine itself is a dangerous drug without adding marijuana to the mix. It can lead to several harmful psychological and physical symptoms in regular users, including the development of:

  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Hallucination


LSD can produce very potent effects even at the smallest doses, which is why it’s common for people to lace marijuana with it.

The combination of cannabis and LSD doesn’t usually produce any severe side effects if smoked; the heat destroys the LSD. Nonetheless, it is common practice for some people to dip the end of a cannabis cigarette in a way that passes through the dissolving LSD tab, resulting in the body receiving both substances and creating a powerful hallucinogenic effect.

It is essential to keep in mind that LSD is exceptionally potent; even the most minuscule amounts of LSD can produce vivid hallucinations for up to 12 hours at a time. Though LSD isn’t considered to have severe side effects on its own, people who aren’t aware they are taking it have an elevated risk of having an emotionally disturbing “trip” that can lead to poor judgment and accidental consequences.


In some cases, people will mix marijuana with the powerful stimulant out there, methamphetamine (also known as crystal meth). The combination of these two substances can produce incredibly potent effects, including:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Potential seizures in higher concentrations


Ketamine is a popular club drug that some people occasionally combine with marijuana. Using ketamine leads to several dissociative and stimulant effects that, like other drugs, are potentially dangerous to someone who isn’t aware they’ve consumed it. Further, ketamine can lead to overheating and severe dehydration.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Using marijuana regularly can lead to problem use, such as marijuana use disorder. In severe cases, this disorder can take on the form of addiction.

Marijuana disorders are generally associated with dependence and a person will feel symptoms of withdrawal when they stop using the drug. During the first week after quitting the drug, regular cannabis users report:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Mood problems
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Cravings
  • Restlessness
  • Reduced appetite
  • Other physical discomforts

The disorder turns into addiction when someone can no longer stop using marijuana even when doing so interferes with the rest of their life. It is difficult to estimate how many marijuana users become addicted, partially because substance use studies often consider dependence congruent to addiction; it is possible to be dependent on cannabis without being addicted to it.

Contact The Owl’s Nest

The Owl’s Nest is a 10-acre substance use treatment center in scenic Florence, South Carolina. We offer evidence-based treatment that combines clinical psychotherapy with total abstinence, taking a dynamic approach to the common 12-Step recovery plan. The Owl’s Nest is committed to creating a culture of compassion and individualized healing. We allow every new client to focus on their own long-term recovery. Contact us today to learn more.


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