Updated on February 6, 2024
5 min read

Is Weed a Depressant, Stimulant, or Hallucinogen?

Key Takeaways

Is Weed a Depressant?

Marijuana provides depressant effects. However, it isn’t just a depressant. It also acts as a stimulant or hallucinogen.

Therefore, marijuana is a:

Smoking, vaping, or consuming marijuana orally affects people differently. Marijuana may have a strong depressant effect for some but not others.

Various types of marijuana strains may also produce different effects on the mind and body.


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Is Weed a Stimulant or Hallucinogen?

Marijuana provides depressant, stimulant, and hallucinogenic effects.

The drug can promote:

  • Relaxation
  • Enhanced mood
  • Increased sensory perception

Marijuana users may also experience the usual side effects of other depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogenic drugs.

Marijuana and THC

Marijuana contains a psychoactive chemical known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC alters people’s mental state when they take marijuana.

When people use marijuana, their lungs or stomach absorb the THC into the bloodstream. The bloodstream takes it to the brain and other organs.

Once THC reaches the brain, it acts on certain brain cell receptors. This is where marijuana produces depressant, stimulant, and hallucinogenic effects.

Common examples of each include:

  • A sense of relaxation (depressant)
  • Mild euphoria or elevated mood (stimulant)
  • Heightened sensory perception (hallucinogenic)

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Side Effects of Weed

Weed produces various types of side effects.


Weed provides both positive and negative depressant effects, including:

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

Over time, people can develop a tolerance to depressants, including weed. This means you need to use more of it to experience the effects you used to feel. 

You can also become dependent on weed. For example, if you take weed to help you sleep, you may eventually have problems falling asleep without it.

Like tobacco, smoking weed irritates your airways. This increases the risk of respiratory conditions like bronchitis or a chronic cough.


Weed is considered a stimulant because it can cause:

  • Elevated moods
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety

Marijuana affects people differently. Some might feel relaxed and at ease after using it. Others might feel highly alert or anxious.

Weed carries fewer risks than many stimulants. For example, cocaine and methamphetamine are highly addictive drugs that can have lasting effects on your body and brain.

It’s possible to become dependent on weed for its mood-elevating effects. 


Hallucinogens can cause:

  • Altered sense of time or space
  • Loss of control over motor skills
  • Increased heart rate
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Detachment from self or environment

Hallucinogens are drugs that alter your perception of reality. They can affect changes in your sensory perception or provide visual or auditory hallucinations.

Weed is often stereotyped for its hallucinogenic effects. However, hallucinations after taking weed are rare and don’t occur in all users.

Symptoms of weed, such as time distortion, are also part of a hallucination. However, understand that hallucinations and paranoia, linked with stimulants, are different. 

Hallucinations are false perceptions of senses, events, or objects. Paranoia involves a mistaken idea that often comes with suspicion.

For example, a hallucination might make you view the person walking ahead of you as an alien. Paranoia might make you believe the person has been following you to harm you.

Marijuana can have all of these different effects. This is why many people classify it as a hallucinogen. 

The Long-Term Effects of Hallucinogens

With time, hallucinogens can lead to:

In rare cases, people may experience:

  • Psychosis
  • Flashbacks
  • Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder

Weed doesn’t contribute to these long-term effects. However, it may cause anxiety and depression in some people. For others, it may relieve these symptoms.

What is a Depressant?

Depressants slow brain function and affect your nervous system. These actions help to calm nerves and relax tense muscles.

These types of drugs can help to treat several conditions, including:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle spasms

However, depressants can also provide adverse short-term effects, including:

  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Reduced motor coordination
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Lightheadedness
  • Blurred vision
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Dizziness

Depressants are typically less addictive than other types of drugs. However, some, like barbiturates, provide a much higher risk.

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Risks of Marijuana Use

Marijuana comes with risks that can affect a person’s life and health. 

Weed is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States, and its use is growing. Use among all adult age groups, both sexes, and pregnant women is increasing.1

Simultaneously, the perception of how harmful weed can be is declining. Many young people today don’t consider marijuana as risky.

However, it’s important to know that weed can be dangerous, especially for young adults and pregnant or nursing women.

The risks of marijuana include:

Negatively Impacts Brain Health 

Weed can cause permanent IQ loss of as much as 8 points if people start using it at a young age. These IQ points don’t return, even after quitting marijuana.1

Mental health

Marijuana is linked to: 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicide planning
  • Psychotic episodes

However, it’s not exactly known if weed is the underlying cause of these conditions.1

Athletic performance

Weed affects:

  • Timing
  • Movement
  • Coordination

These changes can affect athletic performance.1


People driving under the influence of marijuana may experience dangerous effects. 

For example:1

  • Slower reactions
  • Lane weaving
  • Decreased coordination
  • Issues reacting to signals and noises on the road

Baby’s health and development

Using weed during pregnancy may contribute to:

  • Fetal growth restriction
  • Stillbirth
  • Premature birth
  • Issues with brain development

This can lead to hyperactivity and poor cognitive function. THC and other chemicals from weed can also be passed from a mother to her baby through breast milk. This can further impact healthy development.1

Daily life

Marijuana use can affect performance and how well people function. 

People who use weed are more likely to have:1

  • Relationship issues
  • Poor educational outcomes
  • Reduced life satisfaction
  • Lower career achievement


  • Marijuana has depressant, hallucinogenic, and stimulant effects.
  • Weed is often used to promote relaxation, an enhanced mood, and increased sensory perception.
  • Marijuana users may also experience the common side effects of depressant, stimulant, and hallucinogenic substances.
  • Anyone concerned about marijuana use should speak with their doctor for support and advice.

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Updated on February 6, 2024

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