Marijuana, the popular name for cannabis, is reportedly used by 12 million adults annually in the US. Banned under Federal law, but permitted in certain states for industrial and medical use, marijuana is mostly used illicitly. Its use is high among young adults and adolescents, who rely on the psychotropic substance for recreational purposes. However, users are unaware of the actual effects of marijuana, and use it for the ‘high’ that it gives, which makes it the second most popular substance in the US after alcohol. Is Marijuana a Depressant? – happens to be one of the popular questions among teenagers who get introduced to the substance, which more often than not, results in addiction. We now take a clear, scientific look to categorically highlight the properties of cannabis (marijuana) and determine if is a depressant or stimulant, or hallucinogen or all.

What makes marijuana a psychotropic substance? Is Marijuana a Depressant?

Marijuana is considered a psychotropic substance because of its effects on the mental state of the individual who inhales it as smoke. The euphoric effect alters the state of mind and this results in a combination of reactions in the individual, which includes increased appetite, anxiety, hallucination, possible panic and delusions. The combination of these actions and responses are responsible for categorizing marijuana as psychotropic. These actions are attributed to the presence of THC (abbreviation for delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol). The presence of more than 0.3% THC in cannabis is the threshold limit beyond which it is regarded as having ‘no medical value’. Effectively, this means that marijuana with more than 0.3% THC ceases to be medicinal in nature and more of a recreational/psychotropic substance that results in addiction/psychological dependence. This brings us to the question – Is Marijuana a Depressant? To answer this, it is essential to understand the definition of a depressant and the actions associated with it.

What is a depressant? What are the effects of a depressant? Is Marijuana a Depressant?

A depressant is a substance that lowers neurotransmission levels, effectively having an impact on arousal and stimulation. Depressants are either available as medicines or as illegal substances. The primary effects of depressants include pain relief, muscle relaxation, sedative effects, reduced blood pressure, impaired memory and cognition, apart from anticonvulsant effects. The mechanism of action of depressants vary, but the effects are mostly similar. This brings us back to the question – Is Marijuana a Depressant? The effects of inhaling, vaping or consuming marijuana include some of all of the above effects. This gives marijuana depressant qualities. However, the effects of marijuana are not only depressant in nature but include other effects – stimulant and hallucinogen. This alters the definition, and the answer to the question. It is therefore necessary to look at stimulants and hallucinogens.

What are the effects of a stimulant? Is Marijuana a Depressant or is it also a stimulant?

Popularly called ‘uppers’, stimulants have the effect of causing a temporary increase in energy levels and alertness. These temporary effects, the ‘ups’ are followed by ‘downs’ that cause exhaustion, in addition to exerting depressive effects on the individual who has ingested psychotropic substances. Stimulants typically increase the levels of activity of the central nervous system, which makes it a recreational substance. The answer to the question is Marijuana a Depressant or is it also a stimulant is simple. Marijuana has depressant as well as stimulant properties. Marijuana does not have all the properties typically associated with stimulants. For instance, stimulants increase blood pressure, arousal, and locomotion, whereas marijuana does not bring about these effects. It does have some of the stimulant properties, but does not belong to the category of substances that are popularly identified as stimulants – cocaine, ephedrine, caffeine and amphetamine, among others.

Is Marijuana a Depressant or is it a stimulant and hallucinogen also?

It is necessary to look at the question Is Marijuana a Depressant with a wider perspective. Marijuana has depressant properties, stimulant properties and properties that are associated with hallucinogens. Substances that cause hallucinations are known as hallucinogens. For instance, individuals who consume certain substances display weird emotions, experience paranoid feelings, and imagine things and sounds when there are none. Hallucinations caused when under the influence of substances are attributed to the disruption of communication between neurotransmitters that are responsible for sensory perception and various controls in the body. When this communication is disrupted as a result of these substances, individuals experience/exhibit hallucination. Marijuana has some of the properties associated with hallucinogens.

What are the effects of marijuana that cause dependence among users?

Individuals who use marijuana as a recreational drug, end up turning dependent on the drug. This is because of the actions associated with psychoactive substances. The mechanism of action of psychoactive substances includes changing the brain function of individuals. The alteration of the mind as a result of substance abuse, brings about a change in perception, consciousness and behavior. The effects of marijuana are rewarding in the brain pathways, and as a result, individuals get addicted to the substance. This dependence is common to all psychoactive substances and can impact the quality of life, relationships and behavior.

What are the risks associated with depressants?

While answering the question – Is Marijuana a Depressant – it is also necessary to touch upon the risks associated with depressants. Depressants when taken without a valid medical reason or under medical supervision can be extremely risky. In addition to the dependence angle, where individuals exhibit unsocial behavior whenever doses are missed or unavailable, there are other health related risks. For instance, there is a clear danger of individuals combining the substances with other intoxicants or substances. This can result in possibly dangerous consequences – individuals are known to suffer from life threatening medical conditions, such as sudden reduction in heart rate and breathing. Individuals under the influence of a cocktail of intoxicants are also known to cause road accidents due to impaired control and slow response.

What do the multiple properties of marijuana signify? What is its impact?

Due to the multiple properties associated with marijuana, it is important to understand the effect of marijuana. Does marijuana cause depression, or is it used as a treatment for depression? This is an important question that needs to be answered in the context of the question – Is Marijuana a Depressant? Since marijuana has depressant, stimulant and hallucinogenic properties, it is important to understand how it impacts the user.
Individuals suffering from depression, may find that smoking, vaping or consuming marijuana over a long time may actually negatively the condition. The depressant properties of the drug are pronounced on individuals with pre-existing depression. As a result, it is not a very good idea for individuals fighting depression to use/abuse marijuana over a long time with large doses.

Dose dependent effects of marijuana in helping treat depression

While large doses of marijuana over a long time are known to adversely affect the health of individuals, it is true that small doses of marijuana for a short period can help in certain cases. Some studies have indicated that patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder have reportedly experienced benefits from low doses of marijuana for a short term. Some of the symptoms associated with the condition are known to have significantly reduced. There is a school of thought that claims dose dependent benefits of marijuana for certain types of depression. However, this is yet to approved or accepted by all, and is limited to research purposes.

Common side effects of depressants, stimulants and hallucinogens

As clear answers to the question – Is Marijuana a Depressant have been listed out, it is time look at the common side effects that are associated with stimulants, depressants and hallucinogens.

Depressants are known to cause – impaired memory, dizziness, lowered rate of breathing, reduced blood pressure, lack of concentration, and a lack of control over ability to clearly articulate words.

Stimulants are known to cause – paranoia among individuals, bouts of anxiety and panic attacks, and an overall feeling of restlessness. Hyperactivity and a feeling of euphoria are well known effects of stimulants, but the side effects that follow the brief/temporary ups can cause behavior issues.

Hallucinogens are known to cause – overworked imagination of seeing things and hearing noises when there are none, a sudden increase in heart rate, bouts of paranoia, and possible nausea. The perceptions of individuals who are under hallucinations can cause behavior issues in private and in public.

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