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Published: March 10th, 2022
Categories: Cannabis Info
Cannabis is a ubiquitous drug, in that it is widely available and fairly well accepted in many places. For many people, it’s the first, and only, drug they take. Given its wide range of effects, and the variety of ways in which it can be consumed, it’s fair to ask if weed can make you hallucinate.
Here we look into hallucinations, and see whether weed is capable of triggering them.
A hallucination is defined as a sensory perception of something that has no external stimulus. For instance, seeing something that is not there. When it comes to drugs, the definition is usually less strict, and “hallucination” is often used to refer to states of altered perception as well.
However, for the sake of this article, we will use the strict definition of hallucination, referring only to sensory experience that has no stimulus beyond the mind.
There are many potential causes of hallucinations, most of which are not considered desirable. These can be brain damage, mental illness (such as schizophrenia), exhaustion, sensory deprivation, and, of course, drugs.
Exactly what is going on in the brain when we hallucinate is not entirely understood. Indeed, depending on the cause of the hallucination, the internal processes differ. For instance, with traditional hallucinogens such as magic mushrooms or LSD, it is thought that their interaction with the serotonin 2A receptors holds most of the responsibility for their hallucinatory traits. However, with cannabis, this is not so.
Hallucinogens are a category of drugs into which the following substances (among others) fit:
• MDMA (sometimes)
In the case of MDMA, it can sometimes be defined as a hallucinogen, and sometimes as a stimulant, as it has properties of both. Cannabis also does not fit snugly into a single drug category, but rather straddles multiple. It has some of the characteristics of a hallucinogen, some of a depressant, and even some that could be considered like those of a stimulant.
Though cannabis is so commonly taken, we rarely stop to be mindful of its effects. The feeling produced by weed is actually very unique. Many drugs feel intuitively as though they fit into one or another category, with clear “siblings” in the drug realm. Cannabis is, alas, an only child in the world of psychoactive substances.
Even though weed can stray into the category of hallucinogen, on the whole, it shouldn’t cause hallucinations. While it absolutely will alter your perception of reality, full-blown hallucinations from cannabis are a cause for concern.
Many studies link cannabis use to increased rates of psychosis.¹ Given that, if you find yourself hallucinating when you take the herb, it’s advisable to stop taking it.
Now, the risk of psychosis aside, it’s true that some forms of cannabis alter perception more than others, and can cause effects that straddle the boundary of psychedelia.
Bongs offer large doses of THC—the main psychotropic compound in cannabis—in a single hit. The strength of a bong hit means it can exert powerful effects, including warped perception and a short-lived feeling of an altered reality.
Nevertheless, bong rips shouldn’t cause proper hallucinations. Due to their strength, they do potentially pose a greater risk of causing harm—such as triggering a psychotic episode. This is compounded when people smoke a large quantity of bong hits regularly. Basically, the more THC you subject your brain to, the greater the risk.
Joints are certainly the friendliest way to smoke weed in terms of the high. Thanks to their toke-as-you-please nature, it’s possible to microdose by taking just a hit or two from a joint. Moreover, they’re the most social way of smoking too!
Even a truly legendary joint doesn’t offer the sheer power of other methods of consuming cannabis, and as a consequence is unlikely to cause hallucinations, or anything resembling them. More than likely, you’ll find yourself couch-locked with some serious munchies after smoking a full joint.
When we ingest THC, it converts to 11-hydroxy-THC. This version of the THC compound is more potent and with a longer-lasting effect than smoked THC.
As such, in high doses, it can cause effects that are more similar to hallucinations. Whether it’s capable of causing true hallucinations is up for debate. Some anecdotal accounts claim that yes, edibles can cause hallucinations.
Whether or not this is the case, you can be certain that a strong edibles high will be unusual, and reality will absolutely be different for a while. In fact, that “while” could be quite a long time, as the effects of edibles can last hours, sometimes running over into the next day. So make sure you don’t have to get up early!
Concentrates are super strong. While even the very best bud struggles to hit 30% THC, concentrates can get up to around 80% or more! This extraordinary strength makes them beautiful and dangerous.
Users tend to feel that, due to the extracted nature of concentrates, the highs are “cleaner”. Don’t be fooled, though; their sheer power can indeed cause highs that many would consider “trippy”. Even so, don’t expect to hallucinate from concentrates.
Synthetic cannabis is a single name given to a huge number of compounds that seek to mimic the effects of THC. None do so particularly convincingly, and rather tend to mimic and amplify the worst effects, not the good ones!
Yes, synthetic cannabis can cause hallucinations, but usually by triggering psychotic episodes. Often far stronger than THC, these drugs can be considered more hallucinatory, but usually in a way that would scare you off hallucinogens. What’s more, they can be very dangerous, and there’s evidence that there’s a significant chance of addiction with synthetic weed.²
We’d wholly recommend simply not taking synthetic cannabinoids—just stick to the herb.
If you’re looking to hallucinate from drugs, weed is not the way to go. Cannabis can take you to states that are trippy, weird, and wonderful, but seeking out hallucinations from cannabis is likely to end badly, or simply in disappointment.
Enjoy weed for what it can offer, and when you want something else, find it with something wonderful like magic mushrooms or truffles.
Go steady when it comes to smoking weed, and if you find yourself hallucinating, be aware that’s it’s probably not a good sign, and it may be best to talk to a doctor and lay off for a little while.