Is Cannabis a Depressant or a Stimulant?

Cannabis provides you with a lot of benefits as a stimulant as well as a depressant. But it all depends on how you consume it. Read on to find out more. 

In some form or another, we all have consumed drugs. Whether for medicinal purposes or even to relax our mind and body in a fun way. Many people consume drugs to acquire a calming effect and to get away from stress. Well, it all depends on how your body processes cannabis and the amounts as well as dosage. 

Cannabis is known to be the most commonly used addictive drug after tobacco and alcohol. [1] Cannabis originated from the Cannabis sativa plant, can be smoked as well as consumed. Cannabis comes in various forms such as dried plant leaves and flowers. A crumbly, light brown, or dark brown resinous material popularly called “hash”. It also produces oil called “hash oil”.[2]

Cannabis has several psychological as well as physical effects that might vary from one person to another. Cannabis tends to make some people relaxed, whereas it can even make some tired. Similarly, it might boost and increase alertness also for some. Cannabis can be considered as a depressant, stimulant as well as hallucinogen, depending on your body type and neural pathway. As a psychoactive drug, marijuana surely alters mental functioning. [3] The only difference between cannabis and alcohol is that while cannabis tends to linger in your organs longer, alcohol fades off quickly. [3]  Cannabis is usually found in 3 forms. They are marijuana, hash, and hash oil.

Is Marijuana A Stimulant Or Depressant?

Weed As A Depressant

Depressants immensely influence your nervous system and slow down your brain functioning. Looking at the positive side, these calm your nerves, relax the tense muscles in your body, and help treat several conditions like insomnia, anxiety, muscle spasm etc. Certain short term effects caused by depressants are:

  • Feeling of nausea
  • A blurred sight/vision
  • The confused state of mind
  • Reduced coordination]
  • Low blood pressure levels
  • A slowed breathing rate
  • A slurred speech
  • The feeling of lightheadedness
  • Short term memory loss 
  • Constant feeling of dizziness

When observed closely, some evidence suggests modest benefits of cannabis. The similar positive and negative effects produced by weed include:

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

Although depressants are less addictive than the other kinds of drugs on the market. They carry a higher risk. Over time, you might need more to feel the effects you used to feel priorly. You might also tend to depend on it to go on with your daily lifestyle. Eg. You might need cannabis to help you get a good sleep at night if you have trouble sleeping without it. You could try melatonin supplements if you have trouble sleeping. 

Types Of Drugs, Explained

To know the answer to “Is cannabis a depressant or a stimulant?” We need to look into the specificity of what are the main types of drugs available. Depending on the effects and properties of each drug, it can be classified into either of the four categories:


Depressants are compounds that reduce the activity of the central nervous system. Depressants such as alcohol, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines fall into a class of psychoactive drugs called sedative–hypnotics. These drugs produce a calming effect on the brain and are often used as sleep aids (benzodiazepines) or recreational drugs (alcohol). Depressants are also commonly called downers. 


Stimulants help elevate your mood, making you energetic. These tend to become highly addictive over time and can even cause paranoia. Eg. cocaine. 


 Hallucinogens tend to alter your perception of reality and change the way your nerve cells function as well as communicate. Eg, psilocybin.


Opiates are usually considered to be powerful painkillers. They produce feelings of euphoria and could even be addictive in certain cases. These can even have a long-lasting effect on your brain cells. Eg. heroin & other prescription painkillers. 

You must be wondering in which category cannabis falls. As its effects vary, different types of cannabis can produce different effects on the body. According to the University of Maryland, cannabis can be classified as a depressant, stimulant, and hallucinogen but not as an opiate. 

Effects Of Cannabis Use

As cannabis is a depressant, it slows down your central nervous system by decelerating your central nervous system and the messages that go down from your brain to the rest of the body. As observed, the immediate effects of cannabis last up to 2-3 hours.[4] the effects may include:

  • A feeling of relaxation and well-being
  • Loss of inhibition
  • Reduced memory and concentration levels
  • Distorted perception of time, space, and distance
  • An Increased heart rate
  • Feeling of drowsiness
  • An increased appetite
  • Increased talkativeness
  • Red eyes
  • Reduced coordination 
  • Anxiety and paranoia

Consuming cannabis in large amounts has drastic effects on your body. It can cause-

  • Confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Feelings of excitement
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Detachment from reality 
  • Nausea
  • Psychosis (A mental illness that tends to make a reason lose their sense of connection with reality. )

Cannabis As A Stimulant 

Stimulants work oppositely when compared to depressants. Stimulants increase your heart rate and blood pressure levels. In some people, they are even seen to cause rapid breathing. But the most striking feature of stimulants is that they can easily alter and improve your mood, right after consuming them. Rather than making you feel relaxed or sleepy like depressants, they make you feel alive, at least and energetic. Thereby also increasing your attention span. 

Since all good things are bad in excess, stimulants carry negative effects too. These might be dangerous too in some cases. They include:

  • An increased body temperature
  • Paranoia
  • Irregularity in heartbeats
  • Seizures
  • Failure of the heart

The main reason why weed could be considered as a stimulant is that it can cause certain effects on the human body like:

  • Elevated moods
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Racing heartbeats

When compared to other stimulants, weed tends to carry fewer risk rates. Whereas, stimulants like cocaine are highly addictive and have long-lasting effects on your body and mind. Just like a depressant, weed carries the risk of making you dependent even as a stimulant. It might urge dependency on it to elevate your mood.

Is CBD An Upper or Downer?

Cannabidiol is the second most prominently found ingredient in cannabis. Cannabidiol, a phytocannabinoid, is derived from the Cannabis species, which is devoid of psychoactive activity, with analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antineoplastic and chemopreventive activities.[5] CBD is usually made into elixirs, edibles, tinctures, balms, body oils, and other such products. A low dose of CBD has a stimulating effect whereas a high dose of CBD derives a sedating effect on your mind. Hence it is seen to have different effects based on its dosage.  

Depressants are also referred to as “central depressants”. They drop the neurotransmission levels in your brain. Depressants reduce the stimulation or depress the areas of arousal or excitement in your brain. Hence they are referred to as ‘downers’. Whereas stimulants increase the level of nervous activity in your body. It includes drugs that affect your sympathetic nerves and revitalize as well as intensify the activity of your CNS. Caffeine could also be considered a ‘downer’ as it is a stimulant. Green coffee to works in a similar way.

CBD can impair your central nervous system, which makes it difficult to be put in a category. CBD can treat neurological disorders like depression and refractory epilepsy in children, etc. It interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in your brain. These play many roles in your body like regulating the sensation of pain, your appetite, mood, and memory. Moreover, since it interacts with TRPV1 (Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid) receptors, CBD offers therapeutic effects and acts as a stimulant. CBD activates the inhibitory response in the serotonin receptor. This helps to positively influence the perception of pain, anxiety, sleep, addiction, appetite, nausea as well as vomiting. 

CBD activates the inhibitory response in the serotonin receptor and positively influences your pain perception, anxiety, sleep, addiction, appetite, nausea, and vomiting. Several studies linked to the benefits offered by CBD, a compound of marijuana, consider it as a stimulant rather than a depressant. It was observed that cannabidiol holds many benefits and can even aid in anxiety-related disorders.[6] There are certain crystals that you can use to deal with problems like anxiety, enhance self-love within, and acquire a good sleep.  Therefore, CBD is considered as a stimulant rather than a depressant for its ability to produce neuroprotective and therapeutic benefits.


Why Do People Cry When High? What Is The Brain Chemistry Behind It?

Cannabinoids produced by cannabis, called THC, mimic your body’s endocannabinoids that regulate your emotions. This increases the association thinking, both of which trigger crying in some individuals. 

Sometimes, cannabis puts people into a meditative and reflective state of mind. Thereby making them feel grateful with a typical rush of emotions. This might make you cry, enhancing the feeling of happiness within and giving you a feeling of gratefulness towards life. This might induce some positive thoughts rather than focusing on the negative side only. 

Is Weed Good When I Am Sad?

It is recommended to not smoke weed when you are sad as you might become highly reactive to certain situations thereon. One of the significant ways weed acts on you is through amplifying your state of mind. Whereas, if you are consuming weed in a relaxed scenario, it might not generate many side effects. It’s better to know your reactions to certain drugs before consuming them. 

What Happens If You Smoke Weed Every Day?

Smoking weed daily can have drastic effects on your health. Certain visible changes include:

  1. A blurred memory.
  2. Every single day would look the same.
  3. You tend to become less productive over time.
  4. Shattered self-confidence. ( in such cases crystals might help you enhance your self-confidence)
  5. Looked negatively by people of your society.
  6. Your body tends to become lazy. 
  7. Start indulging in self-doubt.
  8. Consuming excessive amounts of sweets like Mithai, etc. 
  9. tend to make less concrete decisions.
  10. Might even try to attempt suicide, unknowingly.

Wrapping Up

Everything has its effects and side effects. The best way to avoid the negative effects is to make sure that you keep yourself monitored while consuming and never get to it in excess. Specifically for the ones which have experienced a psychotic episode in their past or those who have any family history related to psychosis. Even though cannabis could be considered as a depressant and a stimulant, moderation should always be considered over its use and dosage.


  1. Substance Abuse Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. SAMHSA. Accessed December 2019.
  2. Cannabis and psychotic illness, 2012, SANE Australia
  3. Murray, J B. “Marijuana’s effects on human cognitive functions, psychomotor functions, and personality.” The Journal of general psychology vol. 113,1 (1986): 23-55. doi:10.1080/00221309.1986.9710540
  4. Cannabis, 2013, DrugInfo, Australian Drug Foundation
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information. “PubChem Compound Summary for CID 644019, Cannabidiol” PubChem, Accessed 13 December, 2021.
  6. Shannon, Scott et al. “Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series.” The Permanente journal vol. 23 (2019): 18-041. doi:10.7812/TPP/18-041
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