Is Cannabis a Depressant, Stimulant, or Something Else?

Posted on November 3rd, 2022 to Education

Some people rely on cannabis for sleep. Yet, some people claim they use cannabis to help them get up and go. Without question, cannabis can deliver a full spectrum of effects due to the unique biologically active chemical makeup of each strain. However, when you hear that cannabis can deliver effects so opposite to one another, this can naturally lead to questions. Is cannabis a stimulant, or, is cannabis a depressant? The answer here is not all that straightforward for quite a few reasons.

Stimulant vs Depressant – What’s the difference?

The terms “stimulant” and “depressant” are typically used in reference to how different types of drugs are classified according to their effects. Other classifications exist as well, such as antidepressants or hallucinogens.

Stimulants and depressants fall on opposite sides of the spectrum as far as classification goes, which means opposite effects in terms of how they make a person feel after use.

Depressants slow the brain’s function. An example of a depressant would be alcohol or barbiturates. These depressants slow thought processes and cause relaxation, possibly even making you feel sleepy.

By contrast, stimulants enhance alertness and potentially elevate your mood. Stimulants make you more energetic, and sometimes more talkative. An example of a stimulant is caffeine or a herb like ginseng.

Is cannabis a depressant or a stimulant?

In reality, cannabis doesn’t fall into either category as tidily. According to Medical News Today, cannabis can actually fall into three unique classifications, including:

  • Stimulant – Euphoria or mood elevation
  • Depressant – Relaxation or sleep induction
  • Hallucinogen – Changes in sensory processing or perception

This ambiguity exists because cannabis can deliver a spectrum of different effects based on the exact chemical makeup of that particular cultivar. This means that one cannabis strain which contains a certain set of terpenes and cannabinoids can make you feel very different from another strain with a different chemical makeup.

Distinct strains can all have their own makeup of cannabinoids and terpenes. Therefore, some strains may lean more toward offering depressant effects, while some strains are more uplifting. You may even find that some strains that have more hallucinogenic effects as compared to others.

The primary active compound in cannabis is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC produces different effects on the brain based on a number of factors, including what other cannabinoids enter the system at the same time – this is phenomena is commonly referred to as the entourage effect.

For example, Granddaddy Purple is a strain prized for helping with relaxation and sleep, which would seem to indicate the strain acts as a depressant. By contrast, Durban Poison is highly sought after for its energizing, uplifting effects. Strangely enough, both cannabis strains have similar levels of THC. Therefore, the opposite effects are likely related to the presence of other biologically active compounds in each strain.

Is cannabis an antidepressant?

Cannabis is not formally thought of as an antidepressant in medical communities. However, this does not mean that the right strain of cannabis cannot produce antidepressant effects. Super Lemon Haze is a good example as people who frequently use this strain have reported that it may help with their depression. According to nearly 40,000 reviews on Leafly, 28 percent of users claim this strain helps with depression.

What about CBD?

CBD (cannabidiol) is the second most abundant cannabinoid found in cannabis plants but is primarily found in cannabis that can be classified as hemp. Much like THC, CBD can offer different effects. For example, some studies have shown CBD to be good for sleep support and relaxation (depressant), while some studies have shown CBD to offer focus and wake promotion, which would indicate stimulant effects to a slight degree. One thing is for certain, however, CBD is not psychoactive and it is not a hallucinogen because it does not produce any level of intoxication all by itself.

A Final Word from Southern Sky Brands

Whether you are looking for cannabis to help with relaxation or energetic uplift, there is likely a strain that can deliver the effects you want. As you get more familiar with cannabis, be sure to check in frequently with Southern Sky Brands to get the latest information about medical cannabis in Mississippi.

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