Marijuana is like the guest you never want to leave. It alleviates pain, it makes life feel better, it improves illness, and it makes anxious wrecks cool and collected. It smells like crazy, but it won’t trash your place like booze. And even when it gets you in trouble, it’s rarely a big deal.
But what type of drug is it? Our elected leaders and scientists spend an awful lot of time classifying drugs. Cocaine, we know, is a stimulant. So are meth and speed. Heroin is an opiate like opium and morphine that causes extreme sedation.
Drugs like LSD and shrooms are classified as hallucinogens, which makes sense as these drugs cause hallucinations and other visual effects.
Booze is a little more complicated. Everyone knows alcohol is a depressant, but did you know it’s also a stimulant? That’s why you perk up after a drink or two; later, as excessive alcohol works its way through your system, you crash into depression (or at least the desire for another drink).
Cannabis is both a depressant and stimulant
So then what is cannabis? Really, it’s a lot of different things. It’s easily the most multifaceted substance currently banned by federal law.
If you want to get technical, pot is considered a general “psychoactive psychedelic” drug, something like a hallucinogen but not exactly the same. Most people consider it to be a type of hallucinogen.
These are the drugs that can alter your sensory perceptions, leading you to see objects, living things, and visual effects that aren’t real; to hear voices and strange sounds; and in some extreme cases to hallucinate by touch, smell, or taste.
Hallucinogens aren’t the only drugs that can do these things. Heavy meth use and withdrawal from cocaine abuse can induce so-called “coke bugs,” imaginary insects users believe are infesting their bodies. But these aren’t the principle effects of these drugs – they’re side effects.
Hallucinations and visual distortions are barely every associated with marijuana use. The drug does cause sensory disturbances, though, and that’s why it’s considered to be a hallucinogen by many people.
Weed is chemically similar to shrooms
Chemically speaking, weed probably has more in common with shrooms and salvia divinorum than it does with non-hallucinogens such as amphetamine. But in some respects, pot is also a stimulant. It can cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, just like coke and other uppers.
At the same time, pot is also a depressant. Like alcohol, Valium, barbiturates, and other depressants, weed can ease pain, relieve anxiety, and help users to sleep. It’s one of the most effective means of insomnia treatment available.
Then again, many believe weed also has similar properties to opiate drugs, known historically as narcotics. These drugs, like marijuana, are effective at treating pain and create a similar euphoric sensation during the peak of the high.
It should be noted that the same classifications and general effects also apply to synthetic marijuana. But that designer drug has nothing else in common with the real thing. Cultivated cannabis is orders of magnitude safer than Spice. Pot simply won’t kill you; the synthetic stuff could.