Sleepy or Energetic? Is Marijuana a Depressant or a Stimulant?

by jessica
is marijuana a depressant or a stimulant? blog header

Smoking some strains can make you euphoric, while others make you feel energetic. Not to mention those that are giggly, creative, sleepy, or social. It makes us wonder, is marijuana a depressant? Or is marijuana a stimulant?

The answer is more complex than a yes or no, so we did a deep dive on the topic to break it all down.

So, Is Marijuana a Depressant?

[caption id="attachment_1049" align="alignright" width="388"]two people stoned and asleep on a couch Look familiar? Many of us had experienced the sleepy couch-lock effect of certain strains.[/caption]

While some drugs are clearly classified as depressants only, such as benzodiazepines (per the DEA), marijuana isn’t as cut and dry. Still, research shows that weed contains compounds that can make you sleepy and even treat insomnia – a classic depressant impact

Marijuana also can decrease stress and tension levels in your body, as well as send all your anxious thoughts packing, as noted by another study. That’s another big sign that it’s a depressant in a good way.

So if you have a hard time falling asleep or just want to relax after a stressful day, cannabis can probably help you slow down. Of course, some strains may be better at doing so than others, which we’ll get into below.

Or, Is Marijuana a Stimulant? 

[caption id="attachment_1050" align="alignright" width="383"]people socializing, smoking weed Other strains are uplifting, and create a social buzz.[/caption]

On the other side of the coin are stimulants. Scientifically speaking, stimulants make you feel energized and even euphoric. Even something as benign as caffeine is considered a stimulant (via Brain Research). At higher doses (like too many cups of coffee), you may also notice that stimulants can increase your heart rate and breathing speed.

Because cannabis can make you feel happy, creative, and amused at seemingly everything, it also qualifies as a stimulant. It's these uplifting effects that have caused so many people to reach for a joint or a vape pen to help curb a blue mood.

Be careful with how much weed you smoke, however. If you take in too much THC, you might get anxious or feel like your heart is beating quickly, among other things. So smoking in moderation is always a good idea, especially if you’re sensitive to THC.

Does the Sativa or Indica Label Matter?

You're probably familiar with the three categories of marijuana you can get at the store: indica, sativa, and hybrid. Indica usually is branded as the nighttime weed that helps you sleep, while sativa is believed to give you energy. Hybrids, then, offer some blend of the two. 

But, did you know there's actually not really any scientific difference between indica and sativa in terms of effects? These labels are just a holdover from an antiquated way of categorizing cannabis based on how plants look. To that end, a better way to understand how cannabis works is the entourage effect.

Without getting too technical, this theory basically says that compounds in marijuana, like terpenes, in addition to THC and CBD, impact the kind of high you get. Some terpenes, like myrcene, make you feel sleepy and others, like the citrusy limonene, make you energetic.

Folks in the marijuana industry know that the indica and sativa labels aren’t the most accurate. However, they generally go along with them as they are so widely used. When in doubt, read the product description! 

For example, check out this Absolute Xtracts Sleepytime Vape Cartridge and the Lowell Farms The Social Sativa Preroll Pack

Plus, you can always ask the professionals (hint, that’s us) about what products could cause what effects.

It Depends on the Strain

Is marijuana a depressant? Or is marijuana a stimulant? The answer is both, as it can cause you to speed up in some ways and slow down in others, all depending on the cannabinoids and terpenes inside.

So if you’re looking for a specific kind of high, your best option is to do a little research followed by careful experiments. It’s for science, right?