Does Weed Make You Paranoid

Marijuana and Anxiety: Does Weed Make You Paranoid or Anxious?

Does Weed Make You Paranoid

Photo by Andrew Neel

Marijuana has long been linked with paranoid thoughts and anxiety. An early study in 2014 tested the effects of THC and found that 50% of people reported paranoid thoughts, compared to 30% who received a placebo.

But does weed make you paranoid? Unfortunately, many studies do not tell the whole story regarding paranoia and weed. In this guide, we are going to discuss weed anxiety, why it happens, and whether you can prevent it from happening.

Understanding the Relationship Between Weed and Anxiety

There is a certain level of irony with marijuana that it can lead to anxiety while simultaneously reducing anxious thoughts. In fact, one study found that 25% of adults with anxiety and mood disorders used cannabis to help them cope.

So, if marijuana and anxiety are so closely linked, what is the full story?

Firstly, the roots of being paranoid on weed begin with your endocannabinoid system. This network of cannabinoid receptors is responsible for a range of processes, including mood, memory, appetite, and pain sensitivity.

Whenever you smoke cannabis, the THC and CBD within bind to your CB1 and CB2 cannabis receptors. Whenever this happens, it sends signals to the brain that can alter how you feel and think.

For this reason, different doses of THC and CBD can both increase anxiety when smoking pot and decrease it. Moreover, different strains can impact how you feel when smoking.

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Can Weed Cause Anxiety?

Anxiety is a chronic problem nationwide. Today, an estimated 40 million Americans suffer from some form of anxiety disorder, which is widely considered an underestimation due to a lack of reporting.

However, anxiety from weed is common. But cannabis is also used to treat anxiety disorders, and many states have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana licenses.

And most scientists believe that weed paranoia is due to the level of CB1 stimulation caused by the THC molecules that enter your bloodstream when lighting up a joint.

Why Does Weed Make Me Anxious?

The core reason paranoia from weed occurs is the degree of stimulation the CB1 receptors in your brain receive. Here’s how it works:

  1. Mild signaling from THC molecules that have bound to CB1 receptors reduces the level of anxiety you feel.
  2. Strong signaling caused by higher THC concentrations causes your anxiety to amplify.

In short, lower THC doses will reduce your anxiety. This is why so many new weed smokers often feel anxious. They often consume far too much THC, and their brain reacts by sending out anxious and paranoid thoughts.

Additionally, suppose you are a naturally anxious person, or you are in a situation that makes you nervous anyway, such as being high in public. In that case, your anxiety is likely to be amplified.

Does Weed Make You Paranoid?

Paranoia is less common among the general population, with just 4.5% of Americans diagnosed with some form of paranoia disorder. However, even those without any disorder can still suffer from paranoia when smoking weed.

So, why does weed cause paranoia?

Current research believes that your paranoia is much the same as why someone might become anxious when smoking weed. These two feelings are closely linked, and it all goes back to the actions of THC and your endocannabinoid system.

Does Weed Make You Paranoid?

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Why Does Weed Make Me Paranoid?

Experts believe that paranoia relates to your endocannabinoid system. Whenever you use cannabis, THC will bind to the receptors within your brain.

In particular, the amygdala is believed to receive high levels of stimulation from THC. This is the part of your brain that regulates how you respond to fear and other similar emotions. It can trigger anxiety, stress, and paranoia.

Research has suggested that an excess of cannabinoids like THC can overstimulate the amygdala and cause you to feel paranoid. This would also explain why cannabinoids like CBD have not been linked with an increase in paranoid thoughts or weed anxiety.

Does CBD Make You Paranoid?

It may surprise you to learn that CBD does not result in paranoia. This is because CBD has a different mechanism whenever it enters the body.

CBD doesn’t bind to your CB1 receptors in the same way as THC. Instead, it modulates your CB1 receptors, which makes them less susceptible to THC stimulation. In other words, CBD is the polar opposite of THC and helps to blunt its effects. THC competes with CBD at CB1 receptor sites in many ways, so if there’s more CBD, you’re less likely to experience paranoia.

And CBD is also known to act similarly to antidepressants because it modulates serotonin receptors, which are responsible for regulating your mood. So, strains with higher CBD ratios are better for you if you’re prone to paranoia.

But does Sativa make you paranoid, or is Indica the worst offender?

Within cannabis circles, Sativa is considered the worst offender because of its energizing effects. If you’re wondering, “Why does weed give me anxiety?” your preference for Sativas could be one of the reasons why.

Can Weed Cause Paranoid Delusions?

Paranoid delusions are a far more serious matter than anxiety and paranoia. These can be dangerous, but the good news is that the vast majority of people are not vulnerable to these problems.

Instead, people with diagnosed mental health conditions are strongly advised to avoid all cannabis products because of the inherent risk of paranoid delusions – and even psychosis.

If you have a mental health condition like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, ensure that you speak to your doctor before smoking weed or taking any other type of cannabis product.

How to Stop Weed Paranoia

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How to Stop Weed Paranoia

Now that we know the answers to “Can weed cause anxiety?” and “Does THC cause anxiety?” is there any way that you can stop this from happening?

Several methods exist to help you prevent paranoia if you get too high. Here are some top tips for avoiding this problem:

Smoke Indicas

It may not solve the whole problem, but Sativas are more prone to causing anxiety than other strains of cannabis.

Sativas are naturally energizing, so if you already suffer from anxiety, a potent Sativa can cause you to feel more anxious than before.

Reduce Your THC Intake

Every weed strain will have a different THC percentage on the label. Check yours and then purchase a weed with a lower percentage.

While most novices head for the strongest possible THC content, this is almost always a mistake. Over time, your body will adapt, and you’ll be able to smoke potent strains without any problems, but in the early days, you are overstimulating your endocannabinoid system.

Get Out of Anxiety-Inducing Situations

Some smokers find that certain situations will trigger their anxiety while high. This is different for everybody. If you think, “Weed makes me anxious,” it could be just where you’re smoking.

Some common examples of anxiety-inducing situations could be:

  • Smoking before work
  • Smoking in public
  • Smoking with friends
  • Smoking while listening to certain music tracks
  • Smoking while in certain rooms

In other words, you need to find your happy place when smoking. Some people can only smoke without feeling paranoid when they’re in the comfort of their own homes at the end of the day. Everyone is different.

Stay Hydrated and Nourished

For unknown reasons, many people find that drinking a big glass of water or two and ensuring they have a full stomach can help them avoid feeling paranoid and anxious while smoking.

Remember, your endocannabinoid system also sends signals whenever you’re hungry or thirsty, so if you’re lacking in any area, these signals could become far more pronounced. All of these signals can lead to feeling paranoid.

Smoke CBD Cigarettes

As already mentioned, CBD actively competes with THC to bind to your CB1 receptors. It’s also responsible for modulating your mood.

If you have another CBD product, or some CBD cigarettes available, these can take the edge off whenever you feel anxiety and paranoia.

Adding more CBD can enable your body to rebalance the ratios, diluting the THC content inside you.

Weed Strains are Best for Paranoia

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Which Weed Strains are Best for Paranoia?

Complaining that “weed gives me anxiety”? Certain types of weed are more prone to giving you paranoid thoughts than others.

If you’re struggling to find a solution, here is a selection of weed strains that are known for reducing the risk of experiencing anxiety and paranoia.


ACDC is an extremely popular high-CBD strain often used by medical patients for pain relief. While it does contain THC, it doesn’t contain enough to give you that colossal mind-high that you get from other strains.

Since it also contains anti-inflammatory benefits, ACDC is a helpful strain for controlling the chemical signaling involved in your brain’s natural stress response.

Critical Cure

Critical Cure, or CBD Critical Cure, is another relaxing strain many people use to slow their racing thoughts and soothe their muscles. Anxious individuals may find this to be their go-to strain if anxiety while smoking is becoming a problem.

The dominant terpene strains within Critical Cure include myrcene, humulene, and geraniol.

Granddaddy Purple

Granddaddy Purple is a hybrid strain known for its profound ability to help users feel relaxed. Whether you’re suffering from insomnia, tense muscles, or have just had a hard day at work, Granddaddy Purple contains several terpenes to help you avoid anxiety.

Some of the stress-relieving terpenes in Granddaddy Purple include camphene and linalool, which are both natural calming agents.

Ringo’s Gift

Ringo’s Gift is a CBD-heavy strain that has been derived from ACDC and Harle-Tsu. As a relatively new strain, evidence of its effects is limited.

On the other hand, anecdotal evidence has shown a remarkable improvement in anxiety and stress in people consuming this strain. It should come as no surprise since it has a massive 13:1 CBD to THC ratio.


Harle-Tsu has won several awards for cannabis. Even though it only contains 13% CBD, it smokes as if it had far more. It also has less than 1% THC, which makes it an ideal choice for people looking to boost their moods while lowering their anxiety.

The dominant terpenes within Harle-Tsu include terpinolene and myrcene.

Get the Right Weed for Your Needs, Apply for an MMJ Card Today!

Does weed make you paranoid? Weed and anxiety are closely linked, but by dosing correctly and choosing the correct strains, you can enjoy the benefits of medical marijuana without worrying about becoming paranoid.

If you’re already an anxious individual, you may qualify for a medical marijuana card in your state. To find out whether you are eligible to apply for an MMJ card, contact Green Health Docs today.


Dr. Anand DugarThis article has been reviewed by Dr. Anand Dugar, an anesthesiologist, pain medicine physician and the founder of Green Health Docs. Graduating from medical school in 2004 and residency in 2008, Dr. Dugar has been a licensed physician for almost 20 years and has been leading the push for medical cannabis nationwide.