Is Cannabis Psychedelic? Exploring a New Study’s Comparison of THC to LSD

Is Cannabis Psychedelic? Exploring a New Study’s Comparison of THC to LSD

Is Cannabis Psychedelic? Exploring a New Study's Comparison of THC to LSD 

THC and LSD are two of the most used substances that people enjoy recreationally and medicinally. They come in the form of a vape pen, edible, flower, tab, and more. Each of these substances has unique effects on the mind, with individuals experiencing them differently, though there may be some overlap. 

Some users describe THC as producing psychedelic experiences. Can cannabis produce psychedelic effects? What does a psychedelic experience feel like? Let's delve into the reality behind the cannabis experience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Psychedelics originally meant mind-manifesting or revealing.
  • Extremely high cannabis dosages have the potential to produce psychedelic effects.
  • Because they interact with various target receptors and brain pathways, cannabis and shrooms might have different effects.

The Meaning and Sensation of Psychedelics

At the New York Academy of Sciences in 1956, Humphry Osmond, a pioneering English psychiatrist, used the term "psychedelic." He claimed that its fundamental idea is "mind manifesting" or "mind revealing," which is a synthesis of the Greek words "Psyche" and "Dēlōsē."

Deep experiences brought about by psychedelics include visual hallucinations and out-of-body experiences. People may have intensely spiritual feelings, including a strong sense of oneness with the universe or a greater force. These encounters can evoke enduring feelings of spirituality that persist beyond the psychedelic encounter.

What is the Feeling of Using Cannabis?

Many studies on the effects of cannabis acknowledge a spectrum of experiences. According to Dr. Adie Rae, a neuroscientist, understanding the impact of cannabis involves considering both mood and cognitive abilities. Cannabis can induce positive changes in mood, often manifesting as euphoria. The extent of this mood alteration varies based on individual factors.

While joy and elation can result from THC ingestion, some users experience an enhanced inclination toward creative pursuits. Although cannabis doesn't inherently make someone more creative, it can trigger shifts in brain activity that may foster an innovative mindset in certain individuals.

Advocates of marijuana use discuss the experience of becoming high. These feelings may consist of:

  • A sense of contentment
  • Euphoria chuckles or laughs
  • Hunger
  • Heightened enjoyment and amusement
  • Heightened sensitivity to light, taste, smell, touch, and sound
  • A sense of increased creativity

Researchers from the Journal of Psychopharmacology suggest that cannabis can induce what they refer to as an "oceanic experience." This term encapsulates a state where the boundaries of the self dissolve, so it allows for a profound sense of interconnectedness with the surrounding world. It entails a boundless perception of self and an immersion into a broader, more universal consciousness.

Can Cannabis Cause Psychedelic Experience?

Conor Murray of the University of California, Los Angeles, conducted a recent study examining oral THC's impact on neuronal complexity. Murray and his team employed electroencephalogram (EEG) technology, a non-invasive method for tracking electrical brain activity. 

Their study enlisted two cohorts of healthy participants: one group received THC in pill form, while the other underwent a session where they took a microdose of LSD.


  • Rather than being an extract from the cannabis plant, the THC tablet contained synthetic THC or Marinol. Marinol's effects might differ from those of genuine cannabis products because it doesn't contain other cannabis chemicals like CBD. 
  • LSD is in low doses.

To assess the comparative effects of LSD and synthetic THC in contrast to a stimulant lacking perception-altering properties, researchers administered methamphetamine to another group of healthy participants. 

Each group reported their level of intoxication, with THC yielding approximately a 6 or 7 on a scale of 10. In contrast, the effects of methamphetamine and LSD were comparatively less intense due to the stipulated administration guidelines for LSD, which aimed for a subtly perceptible effect.

When researchers compared each drug's impact on neural complexity with a placebo, the data showed that only LSD caused a statistically significant increase in brain activity complexity. THC, on the other hand, showed no notable alteration in EEG signals' complexity at a significant level. Any effects it did exhibit were a mix of increases and decreases across various EEG sensors.

Does this suggest that cannabis lacks psychedelic properties? Not necessarily. The observed complexity changes with LSD didn’t align with its subjective effects. This indicates that neural signal diversity shifts even before noticeable mental effects occur.

Also, the volunteers received Marinol, which lacks other natural cannabinoids like CBD found in the cannabis plant. While THC primarily drives cannabis effects, its interactions with other cannabinoids could modify its effects. In essence, a study using cannabis plant extracts might yield different outcomes.

Can Cannabis Induce the Same Pathway as Psychedelics?

Cannabis can activate endocannabinoid receptors, but intriguing research findings imply that specific cannabinoids may activate 5-HT2A receptors. This suggests the possibility of similar effects, which adds complexity to the understanding of cannabis's impact.

Researchers from a scientific review in Synapse delved into existing literature to explore the evidence surrounding cannabis' psychedelic properties. Their investigation revealed several studies documenting cannabis-induced perceptual alterations and visual hallucinations. 

For instance, 200 adults in India reported confusion and visual hallucinations post-cannabis consumption.

Another study observed eight Israeli men who encountered visual disturbances after using highly concentrated cannabis. The participants reported these disturbances as "flashbacks," which persisted for up to 6 months after use.

The authors propose that the variability in cannabis' psychedelic effects could stem from THC and CBD's interaction with 5-HT2A receptors. Research suggests THC indirectly activates these receptors at high doses, while CBD may have the opposite effect. Because cannabis blends these compounds in different proportions, it's plausible that this accounts for its diverse effects.

The authors also speculate that achieving a mystical experience with cannabis may require significantly higher doses than those used recreationally. 

Even the previously mentioned study from the Journal of Psychopharmacology says that the rate of "complete" oceanic boundlessness experiences they saw in their research was "much lower than estimates from official psilocybin trials." It seems that cannabis does not consistently or powerfully produce feelings of oceanic boundlessness like traditional psychedelic substances do.

Commonalities of Cannabis and Psychedelics

Each person's experience with cannabis is different; some report feeling "high," while others have experiences more akin to the hallucinations frequently associated with psychedelics. Despite the absence of conclusive studies affirming cannabis's psychedelic effects, there are shared elements between the two.

Mood Regulation According to the Cannabis Health Index (CHI), cannabis demonstrates promise in mood regulation for individuals with depression. 

Johns Hopkins’ study revealed a noteworthy finding: patients with clinical depression experienced a 54 percent increase in the likelihood of achieving remission following their trials with psilocybin.

DMN CBD appears to share similarities with psilocybin mushrooms regarding their impact on the brain’s default mode network (DMN). Modifying the DMN can shift cognitive patterns and mitigate the effects of external stimuli overload. Shift in this network can help in various mental health conditions.
Entourage Effect Cannabis contains diverse cannabinoids and terpenes, which collaborate harmoniously to offer benefits alongside the intriguing possibility of promoting neurogenesis.

Shrooms also boast a complex blend of compounds, including psilocin, baeocystin, norbaeocystin, norpsilocin, aeruginascin, and beta-carbolines. This intricate combination contributes to the purported neurogenic properties.


Cannabis may induce hallucinogenic effects, as reported by certain users and studies. The precise mechanism behind this phenomenon remains inconclusive. While the cannabis high differs from that of LSD, it offers a distinct and potentially enjoyable sensation that many find relaxing and fulfilling. Whether it holds the potential for life-changing experiences varies from person to person. Each individual encounter with cannabis is unique, which makes it difficult to dismiss its potential rewards when compared to LSD.

Frequently Asked Section

Can vaping weed lead to a psychedelic experience?

The Journal of Cannabis Research identified two fundamental categories of cannabis consumption: recreational and spiritually motivated. Researchers observed that individuals in this spiritual category reported cannabis encounters reminiscent, in certain aspects, of psychedelic experiences.

In simple words, you may have a psychedelic experience when you consume high amounts of cannabis.

Can different methods of consuming cannabis affect your experience?

The method of consumption influences the onset of cannabis effects. Vaping and smoking yield quicker results compared to consuming edibles. Your cannabis experience on your environment and mindset, known as "set and setting."

What dosage can induce spiritual effects in cannabis?

Various studies do not consistently outline the exact dosage required to cause a psychedelic experience. There's a notion that it must surpass recreational doses. You must remember that recreational dosage varies from person to person. You must avoid excessively high dosages as they can cause anxiety and paranoia.

What strains can induce psychedelic effects?

Although studies haven't mentioned explicitly whether specific strains of cannabis can induce psychedelic experiences, anecdotal reports suggest that the following strains may produce such effects.

  • Amnesia Haze
  • Banana Cream OG
  • MK-Ultra
  • Durban Poison
  • Tickle Kush
  • Mimosa
  • Wedding Cake

Can I find vape pens with psychedelic cannabis strains?

Yes, you can discover both disposable and refillable pens designed for vaping psychedelic weed strains. If you're unable to locate available carts, there's another avenue: considering a vape pen capable of converting cannabis flower into vapour. Dab pens may also offer another alternative by enabling the use of concentrates rather than flower.