Study suggests cannabis use can cause a psychedelic-like ‘oceanic’ experience

9th August 2021

A new study found that cannabis consumers could experience reactions that are mostly connected to the use of psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD.

According to research published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, cannabis users can also experience known “oceanic boundlessness”, which is described as a “feeling of oneness with the world.”

PsyPost quotes study author Mitch Earleywine, a professor of psychology at the University at Albany, who said: “Once the psilocybin labs started emphasising that oceanic boundlessness seemed to be the mechanism underlying the molecule’s antidepressant effects, nearly every cannabis fan couldn’t help but ask, ‘Hey! Doesn’t marijuana have comparable effects?”

“My students had already shown that ‘challenging experiences’ were common when folks ate more edibles than they intended to.

“Asking folks if they thought cannabis also produced these oceanic boundlessness effects seemed an obvious next step.”

According to researchers, they used Facebook and Amazon Mechanical Turk to recruit a sample of 852 cannabis users, who completed an anonymous survey regarding the most dramatic THC experience of their lives.

The survey included items from the oceanic boundlessness subscale of the Altered States of Consciousness Scale, a scientific questionnaire that is frequently used in psychedelic research.

The researchers found that nearly 20% of participants reported a score on the oceanic boundlessness subscale that was above 60% of the maximum – people who report a score this high are considered to have had a “complete” or “breakthrough” oceanic boundlessness experience.

However, those working on the study emphasised that the oceanic boundlessness was not as strong after cannabis use as after psychedelics.

As a conclusion, the authors stated: “Self-report data suggest that high doses of cannabis can create subjective effects comparable to those identified in trials of psilocybin that precede relief from cancer-related distress, treatment-resistant depression, alcohol problems, and cigarette dependence.

“Given the disparate mechanisms of action, comparing THC-induced to psilocybin-induced effects might improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying subjective experiences.

“This work might also support the development of a cannabis-assisted psychotherapy comparable to psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy.”

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