Recent studies have shown that similar to psychedelic drugs like psilocybin and LSD, high doses of cannabis can induce what scientists are calling an oceanic boundless experience. That means if you’ve ever smoked a rolling cone to the point of hallucination, you’ve hit one of the greatest peaks of a THC high.
Study author, Mitch Earleywine, a professor of psychology at the University of Albany stated that “Once the psilocybin labs started emphasizing 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?'” He continued, “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.”
For their study, they used Facebook and Amazon Mechanical Turk to recruit a sample size 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. In the abstract of the research, it states, “Despite tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)’s reputation for creating dramatic effects at high doses, empirical work rarely addresses cannabis’s impact on subjective responses common to the tryptamine psychedelics. We focused on these effects because they have preceded and covaried with the therapeutic impact of psilocybin in previous work.” Previous research shows that psilocybin-induced experiences of oceanic boundlessness are associated with decreases in depression.
Although, “complete” oceanic boundlessness experiences were more strongly linked to decreases in depression than “non-complete” experiences. New findings show that cannabis “could create some of the subjective effects that seem to underlie psilocybin’s antidepressant effects,” Earleywide stated. However, researchers noted that the rate of “complete” oceanic boundlessness experiences observed in their study was “significantly smaller than estimates from formal psilocybin trials.” Overall, cannabis does not seem to induce oceanic boundlessness experiences as reliable or strongly as classic psychedelic drugs.
This study is the first step towards a more advanced understanding of THC-induced profound experiences. Future research is imperative to determine whether cannabis-induced oceanic boundlessness has any positive therapeutic effects. Earleywine said, “We need to bring folks into the lab to see if these effects are real, then get approval for a clinical trial.” To find out the full potential of marijuana, there needs to be more room for extensive research.