Cannabis Science

Is Weed a Depressant?

woman meditating

There are a lot of opinions and information about weed out there and yet weed is highly misunderstood. People wonder is weed a depressant, stimulant or hallucinogen? Well, it just so happens that weed is all three but for this piece we want to zero in on weed as a depressant and what that means for you.

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Is Weed a Depressant?

Yes, it is! The truth is weed affects people in many different ways. Some people may realize that weed acts like a depressant for them. 

There is a bit of confusion about depressant and depression. A depressant doesn’t necessarily make you depressed. According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, depressants are substances that decrease arousal and stimulation. Healthline describes depressants as substances that slow down your brain function. To put it even simpler, depressants slow down the movement of messages between the brain and the rest of the body. 

The Benefits of Weed as a Depressant

Depressants, like weed, can have positive effects. According to Healthline, depressants can:

  • Treat anxiety
  • Help people fight insomnia 
  • Promote relaxation

There are studies that support these claims.

For example, there is research supporting using cannabidiol (CBD) for treating anxiety. CBD is not the only cannabinoid useful for treating insomnia either. Research also shows low doses of THC  can do the trick. 

In addition to that, according to a 2011 study, cannabis use decreased the time taken to fall asleep. However, marijuana can both help and hurt sleep. In one instance, marijuana use was linked to more sleep disturbance for daily users. On the other hand, marijuana has been linked to a reduction in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep which can help those suffering from nightmares. Lack of REM sleep could mean a more restful sleep but REM sleep has its own unique benefits.

Finally, weed is well known for its relaxation effects. According to a study, a majority of users experienced feeling relaxation and other positive feelings. 

The Negative Effects

Everybody is affected differently by weed. While some people may get only their desired effects, others may have some negative effects too. According to Healthline, depressants can cause:

  • Short term memory loss
  • Nausea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slurred speech 
  • Reduced motor coordination 
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision

There are studies that back up these claims as well. For example, there is more and more research looking at the effects of marijuana on the brain. The impact weed has on the brain results in short term memory loss, slurred speech and reduced motor coordination. 

In addition to that, the same study that reported a majority of the users had positive feelings, reported some people weren’t so lucky. The study says, “In a minority of cannabis use sessions (< 13%), cannabis users reported anxiogenic-related negative side effects (e.g., feeling anxious, irritable, paranoid, rapid pulse, or restless)”

Tolerance and Dependence of Depressants 

According to Healthline, depressants are usually less addictive than other kinds of subsances. However, weed addiction is possible and you can still develop a tolerance for weed. For example, if you use weed to help you relax or fall asleep, you may notice that you need more and more of it to feel the same effects. 

On the other hand, you may become dependent on weed. Weed dependence means that you need to consume cannabis to get a certain effect. According to Healthline, “if you use weed to help you sleep, you may eventually have trouble falling asleep without it.”

If any of these points resonate with you, don’t worry, there is hope. If you are having serious problems with addiction then it’s best to see a professional. If you find yourself dependent on weed and you really don’t want to be, you can speak to a healthcare professional. They may recommend other solutions to the problem you were using weed to treat. However, if you just find yourself needing more and more weed for the same effect, you can take a weed tolerance break


Yes, weed is a depressant but it’s not only a depressant. It can also be a hallucinogen and a stimulant. However, if you use weed for its depressant qualities, you can reap many rewards. It’s still important to note that everyone reacts differently to weed and so you may not experience some or any of the depressant effects of weed. You may also experience some less than pleasant side effects. It really just depends on the person. Finally, if you find yourself becoming dependent on weed or addicted to weed, you can seek a professional’s help. At the same time, if you notice you’re developing a tolerance to weed, try a weed tolerance break.


About Trevann

Trevann is Stoner Rotation’s Jamaica-based lead writer for the Science section of our cannabis blog. She graduated with honors receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of West Indies, Mona. For the last three years, she has covered some of the biggest questions around cannabis and health underpinned with research from supporting studies, medical journals and scholarly articles. Got something on your mind? You can reach her at [email protected].