Does smoking cannabis make you anxious? Here’s why & what to do:

For many Canadians, smoking a joint or taking an edible after a long day is the ideal way of winding down. Comparatively, whether it’s spending the day at the beach, hiking through the forest, or having a chill day in the backyard… cannabis can create an uplifting experience.

But for others, it’s not quite the same story. Some report having feelings of anxiety after they consume cannabis. The cannabinoid called THC, which is the molecule contained in most cannabis products, and the molecule that gets you ‘high’, could be causing the negative feelings. So why does cannabis make some people anxious and others not, and what can you do to relieve those feelings?


Why does Cannabis make some people anxious?

walking through the grass

In a 2015 study, CBD was discovered to be a treatment for anxiety disorders. It was shown to decrease fear expression, enhance fear extinction, and prevent the long-term effects of stress. And in 2017, in a study of 1,746 medical marijuana patients in California, 37.8% of patients reported that they used marijuana to relieve anxiety, 16.9% to relieve panic attacks, and 55.1% to improve relaxation.

On the contrary, there are similar studies that support a connection between anxiety and cannabis. Especially with 300 to 600 mg doses of CBD, anxiety and stress is consistently reduced. It appears that the relationship between cannabis and anxiety is complicated.

Marijuana is not a single compound like other drugs are, with the entire plant made up of 500+ chemicals. We’ve learned that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is responsible for the main psychoactive response, but we haven’t been able to study everything yet. In the 1980’s, we discovered that humans and many animals have cannabinoid receptors that affect the body and mind.

When you ask people about their response to cannabis, it seems to vary on an individual basis. The effects appear to be subjective, but there are a lot of elements that could influence the experience, such as dosage, strain, tolerance level, personality and more.

When it comes to anxiety, fear and stress, the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in these responses. The system helps us develop an appropriate reaction to stressful events, acting as a sort of regulatory system for our emotions.

While many people smoke or ingest cannabis with the expectation of becoming relaxed, that isn’t the case for everyone. Dose certainly plays a part, with anxiety and panic reactions often occurring when someone is suffering from marijuana intoxication brought on by excessive use. But aside from dosage, your genetics can play a role in how well you tolerate THC. Your environment, personality and frequency in which you consume cannabis can also play a part.


What you can do to relieve your anxiety

sun shining through the trees

If you are starting to feel anxious after consuming cannabis, or have started to notice an emotional pattern emerging, there are a few strategies you can use to combat the feeling. One of the best things you can do is to regulate your dosages. By smoking or ingesting smaller amounts of cannabis, you’ll greatly reduce the chances of experiencing panic, stress or anxiety. And there’s more.

We’ve learned that the environment in which you smoke or ingest cannabis can play a part in how it makes you feel. To influence your environment in a positive way, take yourself to a place your feel extra relaxed in when you consume cannabis. For some people, that’ll be outdoors – the beach, forest or hiking trails can be extremely peaceful. But for others, the most relaxing place will be inside their home. To boost the mood in your environment even more, try putting on some relaxing music, cuddling your dog or cat, calling a friend or lighting some candles.

holding cannabis plant

When you’re out shopping at your local cannabis dispensary, try looking for a strain with less THC. Certain flowers and edibles will contain less of the psychoactive THC and more of the non-psychoactive CBD. The friendly staff at Cheeky’s in Kitsilano and Maple Ridge will be sure to help you find something that suits your needs.

There are also some less well-known home remedies that may help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. There’s a terpene found in lemons called limonene, which is known to help with feelings of anxiety. Instead of going for the store-bought stuff, trying juicing or zesting your own lemons with sugar and water for some tasty homemade lemonade rich in limonene. There’s also the old remedy of pepper. The terpenes in pepper are known to share some of the same chemicals as THC, which could counter the effects. So it goes, all you need is a deep breath of freshly ground pepper to feel a relaxing sensation.

collection of natural items for anxiety

If you’re looking for a strain of cannabis with less THC that will allow you to relax and avoid feelings of anxiety and stress, stop by one of Cheeky’s Cannabis locations. We’ve got retail locations in Kitsilano and Maple Ridge full of friendly, helpful and welcoming staff. We’d be happy to help!