Weed's Hallucinogenic Secrets: Cannabis as a Psychedelic

Explore the hallucinogenic qualities of cannabis and its potential as a psychedelic. Gain insights into the science behind cannabis-induced hallucinations, the differences between cannabis and traditional psychedelics, and what happens when cannabis meets substances like psilocybin and LSD.

Is Cannabis a Psychedelic

We all know there’s some very potent weed out there, and it can produce some very interesting effects. But can it be considered a psychedelic?
After listening to this episode you will have a better understanding of…

  • Where cannabis gets its hallucinogenic qualities
  • Similarities + differences between cannabis etal psychedelics like psilocybin, LSD
  • What can happen if you choose to mix weed with shrooms and other psychedelics
  • What is happening in our brains when we consume psychedelics

Episode Guests

Episode Resources & Additional Reading

DoubleBlind Magazine | @doubleblindmag
Leafly | @leafly

More Episodes from the Podcast

Podcast Episode Full Transcription

0:00:00.4 April Pride: This podcast discusses cannabis and is intended for audiences 21 and over.


0:00:10.4 April Pride: Welcome to The High Guide. I’m your host, April Pride. There’s no mistaking that cannabis is evolving into an entirely new world of potency, as we’ve discussed on the show before. And for those of us who have consumed some of this very potent cannabis, the effects produced can be nothing short of tripping. But should weed be considered a psychedelic and just where does it get these potent effects that teeter on the hallucinogenic side of things? This takes us to our glossary term on the week, THC, which is short for tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is the classic cannabinoid known for producing the high we receive from cannabis. If you’re experiencing the psychoactive effects from weed, THC is definitely in the plant. In this week’s episode we’ll unpack what makes cannabis a psychedelic, which of course makes this plant similar to plants some may characterise as more “hardcore.” We’re also gonna discuss being cross-faded. No surprise that when you mix potent plants at the same damn time, things can get really out there.

0:01:18.5 April Pride: When it comes to cannabis and psychedelics, one of the most crucial facets to understand is the specific parts of the mind and body they’re affecting. While psychedelics do not interact with the endocannabinoid system, both cannabis and classic psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin, affect the 5-HT 2A receptor in the brain. Here, a psychedelic can bind to this receptor and help produce a trip that can last several hours. Cannabis is capable of doing the same thing, but it will take a large dose of some very potent weed and the duration will be significantly shorter with effects likely fading within an hour. And while both can produce a change in perception of the world around you, a hallmark of the psychedelic experience, the ones produced by cannabis are considerably more subtle than those of a classic psychedelic. For example, taking a huge bong rip and watching the tree branches sway might produce some vivid colors, you might notice nuances in the movement you’ve missed previously. If you’re tripping on LSD and looking at that same tree, it could very well be full on dancing to whatever psychedelic sound track you’ve got pulsing through your body. These changes in perception, whether wildly visual and hallucinogenic in nature or more subtle like a breath of fresh air that resets the mind and body, are related to what’s referred to as the default mode network, or more specifically the suppression of it.

0:02:49.1 April Pride: According to a recent Leafly article, titled, “Is Cannabis a Psychedelic?” psychedelics suppress the default mode network, the DMN in the brain, which allows an individual to look at a situation from a new perspective. Everything old becomes new again, and cannabis produces an effect similar to this. The default mode network, again the DMN, is a system responsible for processing self-referential thoughts like introspection, self-criticism, self-reflection and autobiographical memory. Basically, if you’re thinking about yourself, the DMN is likely involved. The suppression of the DMN can promote communication integration across different regions of the brain, changing perception and how you see yourself in relation to the world around you. However, the longevity of perceptual changes can differ between cannabis and psychedelics. Positive alterations in mood and outlook are short-lived in cannabis compared to LSD or psilocybin. What’s more, a psychedelic trip tends to last longer than cannabis. Magic mushrooms, for example, [chuckle] psilocybin involved there, can last an average of six to eight hours while weed high wears off after one to three hours.

0:04:03.7 April Pride: It’s clear that cannabis and psychedelics both influence perception, but the effects of cannabis are typically more subtle. Okay, so while the duration of a high experience is obviously a major difference, cannabis can most definitely produce a psychedelic effect in certain situations. And as legalisation of both cannabis and psychedelics continue to make significant strides, we’re getting closer to understanding their individual potentials via emerging research. But when it comes to combining the two, getting cross-faded, we’re left with anecdotal tales of journeys that serve as powerful reminders of just how potent these substances are. In a recent article for DoubleBlind entitled, “Acid and Weed, Mushrooms and Weed, Should You Combine Them?” writer Michelle Janikian explored the common reasons people choose to combine cannabis in the aforementioned classic psychedelics. Here we find everything from anti-nausea to trip intensifying as reasons people choose to commingle the substances. In Michelle’s words, “When I’ve smoked weed while on ‘shrooms, the trip has become a bit weirder or trippier, for lack of a better word. I hypothesised that perhaps regular cannabis consuming psychonauts would be able to handle the mix and those new to either substance should probably just stick to one to avoid getting overwhelmed and making their trip more challenging than it has to be.”

0:05:27.5 April Pride: “Even daily cannabis consumers who use psychedelics occasionally told me they stopped mixing the two because they’ve experienced increased anxiety, especially smoking weed on the come up of a psychedelic experience. Yet, many people seem to enjoy the intensification effects of mixing LSD and cannabis, saying it brings them to another world or is ‘euphoric’ and ‘overwhelming’ in a good way. Similar to psilocybin, others report cannabis can help with the nausea they get while on LSD, especially during the come up. Some even report using CBD-dominant products for this reason. Other people don’t get the intensification effects at all, and say, ‘Adding some weed to the mix calms them even during a challenging time of their trip.’ Folks also report they don’t feel weed at all while on LSD and can still end up going through many grams, more for the ritual than for a particular effect.” And to read more of Michelle’s article in DoubleBlind, check out our show notes for a link.

0:06:28.9 April Pride: Well, as you can see, there’s basically no way to predict what mixing these substances will produce. Here, one person’s euphoria is another’s anxiety, and everywhere in between. But when it comes to our original question, “Is cannabis a psychedelic?” the answer is that it most definitely can be. THC works in some very mysterious ways, and your experience with its more psychedelic qualities are something to be mindful of and hopefully grateful for. Which takes us to a little known cannabinoid by the name of THCP. Haven’t heard of it? That’s okay, it’s new to us as well, but it’s definitely worth noting, especially when speaking to the psychedelic qualities of weed. In a study published in Nature in December 2019, they revealed their discovery of this novel phytocannabinoid. In its immense potency, a whopping 33 times more active than THC in the human endocannabinoid system. While researchers aren’t yet sure what to make of THCP, it could explain the many individual variations of highs experienced from person to person and from strain to strain.


0:07:47.0 April Pride: Thanks for listening to this episode of The High Guide. Of course, you’ll find a new episode of The High Guide every Friday. Subscribe and follow wherever you listen to podcasts, and if you’re looking to stay in closer contact, give us a follow on Instagram @thehigh.guide, and subscribe to our newsletter on our website, www.thehigh.guide. This is April Pride. Thanks for letting me guide your high.

Episode Credits

Producer & Host: April Pride Audio Engineer: Nick Patri, Cloud Studios Theme music: Cheri Dub, Morris Johnson

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