Can Cannabis Cause Hallucinations?
5 min

Can Cannabis Cause Hallucinations?

5 min

Can marijuana cause hallucinations? This is an interesting question that does not have a straightforward answer. Cannabis has powerful psychotropic qualities, some of which come close to tripping. But are they the same? Find out here.

Cannabis is an interesting drug that cannot be placed into one sole category. With some effects that resemble hallucinogens, others depressants, and some that even bear similarity to stimulants, it really is unique.

Given this range of effects, it seems fair to ask whether cannabis can cause hallucinations. To answer this question, we first need to determine what a hallucination is and examine the different types of hallucinations that can occur. Given that information, we can then decide whether cannabis causes true hallucinations or just impacts sensory perception.

What Is A Hallucination?

What Is A Hallucination

A hallucination is when you see, hear, smell, taste, or feel something that does not exist, but rather originates in the mind. Originating in the mind (but believing it is real) is the key to what makes something a hallucination rather than warped perception or simply an imaginary event.

You might take a drug and things look a bit different, but what you’re perceiving is still real, even if it’s never looked like that before. But if the clouds come to life and start performing a play, it’s likely you are hallucinating.

Another way to describe hallucinations is as delusional sensations. Delusions are false beliefs that originate in the mind; hallucinations are false sensations that originate in the mind. Both seem totally real to the person experiencing them.

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What Causes Hallucinations?

What Causes Hallucinations?

Hallucinations are usually caused by either taking drugs or some kind of illness. Various types of mental health conditions have hallucinations as one of their symptoms, with schizophrenia being the most well known. Although, brain damage, sleep deprivation, and even fevers can cause hallucinations too.

Depending on their cause and content, hallucinations can range from the profound and enjoyable to the downright terrifying. They may show us our dreams or our darkest nightmares. Therefore, whatever the cause, they should always be approached with caution!

Types Of Hallucination

There are six main types of hallucination, and each relates to the senses. These are:

  • Auditory hallucinations (hearing things)
  • Visual hallucinations (seeing things)
  • Olfactory hallucinations (smelling things)
  • Tactile hallucinations (feeling things)
  • Gustatory hallucinations (metallic taste in the mouth)
  • Proprioceptive hallucinations (feeling as though you are flying or floating)

As you can see, there is a link between hallucination and physical sense. Indeed, a hallucination could be defined as a false physical sensation.

Cannabis Vs Classic Hallucinogens

Cannabis Vs Classic Hallucinogens

The THC in cannabis (the cannabinoid responsible for the high) affects the brain via the CB1 and CB2 receptors. This, in turn, has an indirect effect on the dopamine system, among other things. Classic hallucinogens, on the other hand (LSD, psilocybin, DMT), mostly affect the serotonin system.

As a consequence of this, the types of hallucinations they can cause are significantly different. If cannabis could even be said to cause hallucinations, they cannot be described as psychedelic.

To make it clear how difficult it is to describe the effects of cannabis, one must only look to its classification; it doesn’t really have one. Many drugs fall into major categories: hallucinogens, stimulants, depressants, dissociative anesthetics, and more. Cannabis, however, falls between the cracks. It exhibits some hallucinatory effects, some depressant, and even some stimulant—but not enough of any to be classed as strictly one or the other.

So, in comparison to classic hallucinogens, cannabis tends to cause far fewer hallucinations.

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Cannabis And Psychosis

Cannabis And Psychosis

Though there is some anecdotal evidence that people might have more "normal", psychedelic-like hallucinations from cannabis, for the most part it seems that full-blown hallucinations from marijuana are related to psychosis.

Psychosis can occur irregularly in isolation, or it can be the most extreme part of schizophrenia or another mental health condition. Psychosis is when someone is in such a state that they have hallucinations and delusions they believe to be real. The classic example is hearing voices in one's head, but it’s far more varied than this in reality.

It seems that cannabis can, in those who are already predisposed to it, trigger psychotic episodes. This correlation is particularly strong in those who smoke cannabis while their brains are still developing. It is for this reason (among others) that adolescents are advised not to smoke weed—it really can do damage.

So in this sense, cannabis can be said to cause hallucinogenic effects via psychosis. However, for the rest of the article, we’ll look at less-severe hallucinations—the sort you might actually want to experience.

Will Cannabis Make You Hallucinate?

Aside from psychosis, can weed make you trip? If you’re looking for an outright psychedelic experience, the short answer is no. That’s not to say you can't seriously change your perception, though!



Smoking is the most common way to enjoy weed, and probably the easiest (at least where it’s not commercially available). When smoked, marijuana takes effect very fast, and wears off relatively quickly too. But there are different ways of smoking, and this makes a huge difference in the outcome.

Joints and Spliffs

Joints and spliffs are probably among the mildest (and often most pleasant) ways to smoke cannabis. With a joint in hand, it's easy to control the dose, as the high increases gradually. Especially if smoked with tobacco, it can be hard to really overdo it with this method. That’s not to say you won’t—only that you’re likely to see it coming. As such, joints and spliffs are rarely described as hallucinogenic or psychedelic.

Bongs and Bowls

Smoking pot in bongs and bowls, on the other hand, is a surefire way to get incredibly high, incredibly quickly. Ranging from a wholesome little pipe to a legendary gravity bong, there’s a lot of range with these methods. However, if you want to get very high from THC, this is an easy way to do it.

Due to the nature of the high caused by these methods, though, you might find yourself past the “trippy” point and just spinning out or falling asleep if you’re not careful!

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If you’ve taken edibles before, you've probably noticed that the effects are significantly different to smoking cannabis. This is because when THC is metabolised by the liver, it becomes 11-hydroxy-THC. This compound crosses the blood–brain barrier more readily than THC, and has a greater affinity to the CB1 receptor, meaning longer-lasting and more powerful effects.

Therefore, edibles are one of more “hallucinatory” ways to ingest cannabis. That being said, you are likely to be incredibly lethargic by the time any reality-changing effects take hold, and so you may not be able to appreciate them very much.

Cannabis Concentrates

Cannabis Concentrates

Concentrates are, well, concentrated. This means that, gram for gram, you’ve got a whole load more cannabinoids compared to raw flower. Concentrates are made by extracting the resin from the trichomes found on the surface of the cannabis flowers—it is in these trichomes that the cannabinoids and terpenes are located.

Therefore, taking hits of cannabis concentrates can get you much higher than smoking regular pot. Many report the effects to be sort of “cleaner” too. Simply due to the bigger hit of THC, you’re going to get higher, and this may well feel trippier to boot.

Synthetic CannabisSynthetic Cannabis

Synthetic cannabis is a single name given to myriad substances, most famously “spice”. Even describing these as “cannabis” is clutching at straws, as anyone who has smoked them will know that they feel nothing like typical marijuana.

Yes, they can make you hallucinate. But no, it is not pleasant. Expect strange sensations, physical pain, anxiety, paranoia, and something like psychosis. These drugs are deeply unpleasant and incredibly dangerous. Stay away!

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Does CBD Cause Hallucinations?

Does CBD Cause Hallucinations?

No, CBD is non-psychotropic. This means it does not have narcotic qualities. Even though you may feel different on it, it is not in the same way you would after taking THC. Taking CBD should not really alter reality at all, let alone cause hallucinogenic effects.

Cannabis Affects Everyone Differently

Ultimately, you know how cannabis affects you. If you find yourself hallucinating, or experiencing something of that nature, slow it down or stop entirely. While evidence suggests that in most cases cannabis should not cause hallucinations, research is still growing, and so stating certainties is not possible. Therefore, there may be some people for whom marijuana could cause hallucinations without being linked to psychosis. We just don’t know.

With any aspect of drug taking, your instinct knows best. If you feel comfortable and happy about something, proceed with caution. If your instinct resists, probably just don’t do it.

Steven Voser
Steven Voser
Steven Voser is an independent cannabis journalist with over 6 years of experience writing about all things weed; how to grow it, how best to enjoy it, and the booming industry and murky legal landscape surrounding it.
  • Bagot KS, Milin R, & Kaminer Y. (2015). Bagot K, Milin R, Kaminer Y. Adolescent Initiation of Cannabis Use and Early-Onset Psychosis. Subst Abus. 2015;36(4):524-533. doi:10.1080/08897077.2014.995332 -
  • Frederick S. Barrett, Nicolas J. Schlienz, Natalie Lembeck, Muhammad Waqas, & Ryan Vandrey. (2018). Barrett F, Schlienz N, Lembeck N, Waqas M, Vandrey R. “Hallucinations” Following Acute Cannabis Dosing: A Case Report and Comparison to Other Hallucinogenic Drugs. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2018;3(1):85-93. doi:10.1089/can.2017.0052 -
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