The Effects

what's it like to get stoned, what does cannabis actually do?

The Boring Bit

Cannabis can be fun and very enjoyable, but as with any form of drug taking it's important to keep it in its place.

As these things go cannabis is pretty safe for most people, but nothing on earth is totally safe and cannabis is no exception.

Some people use cannabis to aid creativity and to solve all sorts of mental challenges, but it won't automatically do this.You can also use it to waste hours and hours watching junk TV. If you decide to get stoned, use it, don't let it use you.

Always treat cannabis with respect and never abuse it. If you do get a bad reaction from getting stoned, don't keep using it in the hope these bad feelings will pass.

According to Dr El Guindy, Egyptian delegate at the second International Opium Conference in 1924: "Hashish absorbed in large quantities produces a furious delirium and...predisposes to acts of violence and produces a characteristic strident laugh...[with habitual use] the countenance of the addict becomes gloomy, his eye is wild,and the expression of his face is stupid...his intellectual faculties gradually weaken and the whole organism decays. The addict very frequently becomes neurasthenic and eventually insane." It's not true, don't worry.

The risks of using cannabis are outlined in our risks section.

Is cannabis a gateway drug? We examine the claims here

Getting Stoned - the good bits

So just what does cannabis do? How does it make you feel? That sounds like an easy question, in truth it's anything but.

This first thing to know is that cannabis comes in many different varieties, which all have different versions of the same effect, versions which can be almost poles apart in some respects. Unlike almost every other recreational substance, cannabis is not a single drug, what it does is down to the combined effect of several active chemicals (drugs) and different strains of the plant have different ratios of these active chemicals. Because of this, some types of cannabis are laid back and dreamy, others are edgy and very "uppy".

Cannabis is classed as a mild psychedelic, a mild version of the type of drugs which include LSD. This is possibly misleading as it's nothing like LSD, cannabis doesn't produce full on hallucinations, although it can alter your perception of the world around you. You may notice things you never noticed before, find deep complex patterns in things - especially music - and you may misunderstand things.

To try and describe what it is like to feel stoned to someone that hasn't been there is very difficult, in a way it's a bit like getting drunk in that it's an intoxication, but the first thing to know is it is nothing like being drunk in the effects it has.

Whereas being drunk can change the personality of the drinker and make him or her unaware of who and where they are, Cannabis users are very much still "there" and aware of the world around them although, as we say, that perception may be changed.

Unlike getting drunk on alcohol, you are always "in control" with cannabis unless you get really hammered and fall asleep, but the world can feel distant and conversation can become difficult. Movement can be difficult and reaction times are slowed. Other people might think you are being vague and not paying attention, you might talk a lot or you might go very quiet. You might find strange things funny, or you might find you're suddenly very concerned about what others think of you.

What follows is a summary of some of the things you can expect to happen if you get stoned. Of course, everyone is different and as we've explained, different types of cannabis produce different overall effects.

Keener perception:
An increased appreciation of music or images. This is what people mostly use cannabis in a creative way for. Music in particular can sound very much more intense and elements of the music stand out. The governments anti drug site "Talk to Frank" puts it this way: "users can find hidden depths in daytime television/ the most unlikely song lyrics". This is probably true, but by no means the full story.

A remoteness:
People talk, but you miss what they say, things seem "distant".

The munchies:
A feeling of hunger. Be careful of this one, it can lead to midnight raids of the 'fridge! It's also one of the therapeutic effects of cannabis, particularly for cancer sufferers undergoing chemotherapy. This is one of the effects overplayed in Talk to Frank's information however, it's not that overpowering.

Coupled with a dry mouth and throat; it's a good idea to have some fruit juice around, but not alcohol for best effect.

A feeling of increased empathy:
Peacefulness and relaxation, a oneness with nature and so on.

A definite feeling of slowed time:
Minutes can pass in a matter of hours, if you see what I mean.

Getting stoned whilst dancing is an aspect of cannabis use which has been understood for a long time

A cannabis flower

Cannabis - it's a plant!

Getting Stoned - the Bad Bits

Fear of what others think of you, or of who you are. Again, not something to overplay but this is a fairly common thing to happen from time to time. If it happens a lot, cannabis isn't for you.


You easily forget things when stoned, especially things which have just happened or more frequently that you have just thought about.


Cannabis is good for slobbing out and watching the world go by, be careful not to let it do that too much


Feelling sick, passing out. Usually happens if you've been drinking booze.

Severe Reaction:

Very rare, but if you have a very bad dose of paranoia or a very unsettling experience when you get stoned, take it as a warning; cannabis isn't for you. It is very rare, but it does happen.

Where and when?

Getting stoned before you go to work or college isn't a good idea. Although there are people who use cannabis to aid their concentration, being stoned will not in itself make you good at doing something, indeed, it'll do quite the opposite.

Cannabis isn't like alcohol and doesn't give you a false confidence, it can affect your short term memory whilst stoned though and your reaction times are lengthened, so using machinery or driving whilst stoned is not a good idea and may be dangerous. Dealing with work colleagues can be difficult and intimidating if you're stoned.

Make sure the location is good - getting stoned in a threatening place can also lead to the feelings of paranoia.

If you want to get stoned, do it after work, in a place you feel safe in with people you feel safe with.

So there you have it, sort of.. Getting stoned is a personal thing though. The feelings you experience are also influenced by the amount of cannabis you take and its strength, the environment you are in and maybe the people you're with, also your emotional state before getting stoned is important.

Cannabis compounds

The Overgrow website site used to list these components of cannabis before it was closed down:

bullet-point THC: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol & delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol - THC mimics the action of anandamide, a neurotransmitter produced naturally in the body, which binds with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain to produce the ‘high’ associated with marijuana. THC possesses high UV-B (280-315 nm) absorption properties.

bullet-point THCV: tetrahydrocannabivarin - prevalent in certain South African and Southeast Asian strains of cannabis. It is said to produce a ‘clearer high’ & seems to possess many of the therapeutic properties of THC.

bullet-point CBD: Cannabidiol - previously believed to be psychoactive, or to contribute to the high by interacting with other cannabinoids, conversely the most recent research indicates that CBD has negligible effect on the high, it is however a strong anti-inflammatory, and may take the edge off some THC effects, such as anxiety. CBD as a non-psychoactive cannabinoid appears to be helpful for many medical conditions. CBD biosynthesizes into cannabinol (CBN) & tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

bulletpoint CBN: Cannabinol - a degradation product of THC, produces a depressant effect, ‘fuzzy’ forehead.

bullet-point CBC: Cannabichromene - non-psychoactive , a precursor to THC.

bulletpoint CBG: Cannabigerol - non-psychoactive, hemp strains often posses elevated levels of CBG while possessing only trace amounts of THC.