More and more people are becoming aware of the many, varied benefits of cannabis and how it can fit into all different types of lifestyles. What has also emerged as a result is some confusion about the differences between cannabis and other compounds that are known as psychedelic drugs. Do they do the same thing? Can they treat the same issues? Is one superior to the other? We’ll answer all of those questions and more right here.
How Cannabis Differs From Psychedelic Drugs
Before we start a deep-dive comparison, we should probably first review what exactly cannabis is and what it does. Though many of us know that this substance has a long and storied history of making an impact on chronic pain and other issues, some may not realize that cannabis has been harvested by people for thousands of years. Cannabis is typically ingested by smoking, via drinks or food, or, increasingly, topically via creams and ointments, and even patches that sit on the skin.
The main ingredient of cannabis is called tetrahydrocannabinol, or, as it is more commonly referred to, THC. Cannabis also contains an active ingredient known as Cannabidiol (or, CBD), but CBD does not produce the same psychoactive effects that users will find with THC. Both of these ingredients stimulate receptors, CB1 and CB2, in the body’s nervous system, which is how they work. CB1 and CB2 are part of the endocannabinoid system, and CB1 receptors are actually located all over the human body but tend to be concentrated in the spinal cord and brain. On the other hand, CB2 receptors tend to be found in the peripheral nervous system. When these receptors get activated, there can be a noticeable effect on the body’s response to pain and inflammation. In fact, researchers are working to determine if cannabis might be able to have a positive impact on cardiovascular diseases.
A Profile on Psychedelic Drugs
Aside from it being a challenging word to spell, what do we know about psychedelics? This group of substances can, by definition, affect the processes of the body and the way in which the brain responds. We tend to credit psychedelic drugs with producing the effect of altering our consciousness, and when people refer to “hallucinogens” they typically are talking about psychedelics, which fall into three categories:
- Serotonergic: As the name implies, Serotonergic substances have an impact on serotonin, which is responsible for our feelings of well-being and happiness.
- Empathogen: Empathogens, which are also sometimes called entactogens, affect cognition and perception, and might cause hallucinations that affect our sight or hearing.
- Dissociatives: Dissociatives might make users feel detached from themselves, or even reality.
Receptors in the brain that are called 5-HT2A receptors (or 2ARs) are activated by psychedelics, which is how perception and brain function get altered. Researchers have noted that these receptors are deep in the brain’s cortex, and are often set off by serotonin. While lots of substances can trigger 5-HT2A receptors, it’s typically only psychedelics that have an effect on perception. This is because psychedelic drugs turn on the receptor in a different way than other substances do, which leads, ultimately, to a different effect.
You may already be familiar with the names of some psychedelics, like LSD, Peyote (or mescaline), Mushrooms, Ayahuasca, PCP, Ecstasy, and MDMA. Some have been used for many years in tribal traditions and rituals by indigenous people, and more and more people have started using psychedelics to treat issues like pain, depression, and anxiety. However, it’s important to note that psychedelics impact everyone differently, and can often have different effects based on mood and, sometimes, their location.
Telling the Difference Between Cannabis and Psychedelic Drugs
Now that we’ve gone over what cannabis psychedelics are, and what they do, we’ve established that they are really very different from each other. Cannabis does impact brain function, but it tends to do so more subtly than a psychedelic would. It can help to fight off depression and other psychological and physical conditions and might be used by some on a daily basis to manage long-term issues. Psychedelic drugs have been known to have positive impacts on those suffering from anxiety and depression, but they tend to be riskier than cannabis in the sense that they may be habit-forming and are not viable for long-term regular use. They may also have more negative side effects than cannabis.
So, while each may have its own place, there are definitely many major differences between cannabis and psychedelics. One of those we haven’t yet touched on is the ease with which cannabis can be procured. A great place to find cannabis seeds is online at Grower’s Choice Seeds. GCS has a great selection of seeds that are ready to meet both recreational and medicinal marijuana needs, all of which can be purchased quickly and discreetly.
Written By Kim Thompson
Along with being an award-winning creative and literary writer, Kim works as a freelance copywriter, editor, and proofreader both domestically and internationally.
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