Marijuana use and sensory deprivation

Published Apr 24, 2019 01:37 p.m. ET
AP Photo/Nati Harnik

Humans have spent thousands of years trying to perfect different mind-altering techniques for various reasons. The most common is as a form of meditation or spiritual connection that might lead to a period of enlightenment, with the second most found being for recreational purposes. Cannabis is an incredible plant that is often used on its own as a form of escape, healing, or as a way to heighten the senses temporarily, so it only makes sense that so many people would be inquiring about combining marijuana use with sensory deprivation to strengthen the sensations of the experience.

What is sensory deprivation?

Sensory deprivation is a process that is performed to remove all typical stimuli such as noise, light, and sight for extended periods of time.

How to perform sensory deprivation

There are many different ways to experiment with sensory deprivation at home like running a hot bath, turning the light low, throwing in a set of ear plugs and immersing your head just past your ears with your eyes closed. The problem is that this can be dangerous if you slip or fall while alone, and difficult to perform if you live in a space where noisy disturbances are common like above a store, or inside of an apartment building. The most common sensory deprivation technique is called floating and is offered by specialists all over the world. As isolation tank is partially filled with salt water and heated to an average body temperature. Individuals can then float away in total darkness and in silence effectively depriving themselves of all normal senses.

The effects of sensory deprivation


To some people, the idea of climbing into a tank full of water and allowing someone to close it is the furthest thing from relaxing, and that’s perfectly normal, but for those with a deeper understanding and confidence in the process the experience can offer, there is a wide variety of benefits including improved quality of sleep, relaxation, decreased pain, and less stress or anxiety. Some people are even able to experience vivid hallucinations during their time spent floating, which may range from something with a spiritual tone to more of a fun and recreational dream. Unfortunately, not everyone will enjoy a stint of sensory deprivation, and for them, this process can have the opposite effects which can be detrimental including increased anxiety, stress, or pain from injury while trying to leave the tank quickly.

The combined effects of sensory deprivation with marijuana use

Cannabis plants naturally produce hundreds of cannabinoids that are each beneficial in their ways, but in this case, we will focus on the two primary cannabinoids including THC and CBD. Both of which can provide a heightened and more in-depth sensory deprivation experience when introduced under the proper circumstances. THC is notorious for its ability to relax, soothe, heal, reduce pain and its psychoactive properties which will heighten all the bodies senses and sometimes even cause minor hallucinations in beginners. All of the same effects that most would want to achieve from using a sensory deprivation tank, making it a perfect tool for enhancing the overall experience. CBD can lessen inflammation, and sooth in a less felt way, but is also beneficial to the process of sensory deprivation when used in more significant amounts. The problem with marijuana use during a float stems from the similarities in potential negative sensations it might cause. Cannabis is known for having adverse reactions mainly on those with low tolerance and little experience which can induce fear, panic, anxiety, and make the entire situation the opposite of comfortable.

Should you use cannabis and sensory deprivation together?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question, as it is a matter of personal preference, tolerance, and experience. However, there are some tips and tricks that you can follow to maintain as safe of an experience as possible, while also reaping the benefits.

  • Marijuana use should only be combined with sensory deprivation by experienced THC consumers. If you have never tried pot before, then it's generally recommended that you use it at least 5-7 times to gain a comfortability with how it feels and might affect you personally.
  • Cannabis should be consumed in small doses to start with when experimenting with combining the two methods of relaxation. Use small amounts, or purchase weed strains with low amounts of THC.
  • Sensory deprivation can be intimidating to anyone, but especially those who suffer from a fear of water, darkness, or enclosed spaces which is surprisingly a pretty significant portion of the population. You should always experience a float at least once or twice sober before trying to combine the two effects. Otherwise, you might just end up in a panic which will result in an awful and unrelaxing event that serves no therapeutic benefits.


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