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How To Use Marijuana For Anxiety

September 20, 2021

Cannabis offers a wide range of uses. Medicinal users often report improvements in mental health conditions after consuming weed. Whether or not you should use marijuana for anxiety is a highly debated topic.

Some tokers swear by its stress-relieving properties, while others assert that cannabis only heightens paranoia. Below we tackle these issues and discover what effects marijuana has on the brain and whether or not it's helpful for anxiety. 

We also discuss the impact of THC and CBD levels, the role terpenes play, and whether weed affects how the anti-anxiety medication works. Let's kick things off with a breakdown of how marijuana for anxiety works. 

Marijuana for Anxiety
Marijuana for anxiety

Marijuana for anxiety: how does it work? 

To learn how marijuana for anxiety works, we need to understand how the body transmits messages to the nerves. Knowing this will give us a holistic view of the role of weed on our health. 

Each person produces endocannabinoids that interact with a vast system of endocannabinoid (EC) receptors. These are spread throughout the body, including the brain, organs, gut, and skin. 

Marijuana has two dominant compounds, THC and CBD. THC is responsible for the psychoactive experience. What is CBD? It's non-psychoactive. Both have a role to play when you use marijuana for anxiety.

Each of these impacts the body differently. Different strains of weed have varying levels of CBD and THC, which, depending on the terpene profile, affect the way the user feels. 

Does THC cause anxiety? Answering this question is complex. Let's look at what THC does to the brain.

THC and anxiety 

Anandamide is an endogenous endocannabinoid that acts similarly to THC. When you consume weed for anxiety, your body recognizes the marijuana compounds as if they were anandamide. 

The THC attaches to the EC receptors and, using cannabinoid neurotransmitters alters the way your brain normally operates. It can then activate various parts of the brain and affect several functions like: 

  • Sense of time 
  • Level of concentration 
  • Memory 
  • Movement 
  • Thinking abilities 
  • Sensory perception 
  • Pleasure perception 

Cannabis stimulates the neurons to increase dopamine production, which makes THC for anxiety a viable option. Another widely accepted reason is that weed affects the body's GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) neurotransmitters.

Prescription anti-anxiety medications often contain benzodiazepines that directly target the GABA levels. Weed consumption also lowers cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress. 

The endocannabinoid 2-AG, in particular, reduces the anxiety-causing connections in certain parts of the brain. THC activates the same receptors, which means there's a high probability that patients will benefit from medical marijuana for anxiety.

THC and anxiety have a delicate relationship. While low to moderate amounts can help, consuming too much can increase your heart rate and subsequently worsen your anxiety. 

Marijuana joint
Marijuana joint

CBD and Anxiety 

CBD for medicinal use is widely accepted—even by those typically opposed to medical marijuana. This compound doesn't get you high, but it offers a wide range of health benefits.

Some weed strains are bred to contain high quantities of CBD. It's regarded as a safe cannabis option, and it affects your brain's CB1 receptor. Using high CBD marijuana to treat anxiety has fewer risks and is less controversial. 

Consuming too much won't aggravate your symptoms when opting for a CBD product. Using too little might mean you experience no effects, but there's no adverse anxiety reaction for ingesting it in excess. 

Some negative side effects from using too much CBD include: 

  • Drowsiness 
  • Decreased appetite 
  • Fatigue 
  • Insomnia 
  • Diarrhea

CBD works similarly to THC by influencing the body's receptors. Using CBD-rich marijuana for anxiety affects your serotonin levels. It's the hormone responsible for balancing moods. 

The effects are typically rapid, depending on the way the weed is consumed. 

CBD oil for anxiety
CBD oil for anxiety

Does weed help with anxiety?

Using cannabis for health purposes is complex. Various strains and phenotypes affect users differently. When it comes to weed and anxiety, there's a substantial amount of evidence that shows the benefits in the short term. 

Certain strains with the ideal blend of compounds and terpenes calm the user minutes after consumption. The effects are similar for depression. The weed boosts your serotonin levels and positively alters your mood. 

When you consume too much THC, it has the opposite effect and can raise your anxiety levels. This is why some users link marijuana and panic attacks. 

The key is to find the correct strain and quantity for your specific needs. It's different for each person, and in many cases, it involves trial and error before you find the ideal marijuana to treat anxiety. 

It's best to start consuming high-CBD strains or with very low doses of THC until you find the sweet spot that calms you without adverse effects.

Does THC cause anxiety?

Some tokers experience anxiety after smoking weed. Several factors, including the following, can cause it: 

  • Ingesting too much THC in a single dose. 
  • THC sensitivity.  

If you consume too much THC in a single sitting, you risk overestimating your amygdala. This part of the brain regulates your fear responses. As a result, you'll experience higher levels of anxiety, stress, and paranoia. 

Being THC sensitive is another reason you feel more anxious after a few tokes. It doesn't mean you should discount using marijuana for anxiety. You can easily overcome this issue by opting for a strain with more CBD.

How to use weed for anxiety?

Anxiety is complex and doesn't have a cure. Patients who suffer from the condition can manage it by incorporating therapy, medication, and other tools to reduce the symptoms. 

There's a wide range of disorders that fall into the category of anxiety, and the treatments vary for each individual. This makes it complicated to prescribe marijuana for anxiety in a generalized way. 

Clinicians typically recommend three types of medical cannabis options for these patients: 

  • A 1:1 ratio of THC and CBD. 
  • High CBD weed.
  • CBD only extracts.
Smoking weed
Smoking weed

1:1 ratio

In 420 circles, using a 1:1 mix of THC and CBD is called the golden ratio and produces what is known as the "entourage effect." This blend calms the immune system while regulating your serotonin levels. Many use this type of weed for anxiety attacks.

High CBD weed

Opting for a high CBD weed strain reduces the chances of adverse effects like paranoia and heightened anxiety. These strains don't typically induce a psychoactive high even though they contain THC. 

These cultivars have therapeutic effects. These are popular choices of cannabis for anxiety. Patients who opt for high-CBD weed usually consume it from oil or vaping. 

CBD only

The term CBD only may be slightly misleading. These strains typically have trace amounts of THC that fall below 0.3% in weight and other cannabinoids. Medical users also use CBD for depression. These extracts can be from hemp or marijuana.

How to dose cannabis for anxiety properly?

The ideal dose of medical marijuana for anxiety is an individual-based variable. Each case is unique, and some may prefer consuming tinctures while others are comfortable with smoking and vaping.

It's better to avoid edibles for anxiety conditions. The active metabolites in edibles change in the body, making it difficult to measure the exact quantities absorbed.

When a patient starts taking marijuana for anxiety, clinicians recommend microdosing THC or CBD in the form of sublingual tinctures. The most common introductory dose is 2–2.5 mg of a 1:1 THC and CBD product. If a patient prefers to smoke, a single puff is an adequate starting point. 

Patients can increase the amount ingested after a few days once they’ve assessed the experience. Some who use marijuana to treat anxiety stay on low doses, while others only find relief when consuming up to 20mg. 

The best way to find the ideal dose is to start with small increments until the effects soothe your symptoms.

Marijuana oil
Cannabis oil

How long does medical marijuana for anxiety take to work?

When you consume weed, the method of ingestion affects how long it takes to work. Medical marijuana for anxiety is usually smoked, ingested sublingually, or taken as edibles.

The effects hit sooner than with other methods when you toke medicinal marijuana. Within 2–5 minutes of smoking, you'll start feeling relaxed. 

Cannabis for anxiety in the form of tinctures is slightly slower acting than vaping or smoking. After placing a couple of drops under your tongue, it's absorbed into your bloodstream. You can expect to feel effects after 15–45 minutes, and the relief is long-lasting. 

Edibles take the longest to work. It can take between 30–90 minutes before they kick in. Some users experience symptom relief for hours after consuming edibles. 

Weed and anxiety: does marijuana interact with anti-anxiety medication?

If you're taking any medication for your condition, it's best to check with your health care professional before incorporating weed into your treatment plan. Marijuana and anxiety medication doesn't always get along well.

Most anti-anxiety treatments are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs). Although research is limited, there are no clear adverse reactions between these and marijuana.

Medications like sedatives and tricyclic antidepressants are riskier to combine with weed for anxiety. Cannabis can heighten the chances of negative side effects like high heart rate and increased blood pressure. 

Mixing marijuana for anxiety with other treatments can make it difficult to track if the treatment is working and if the medication has any negative reactions. 

Smoking marijuana
Smoking marijuana

How to choose the right strain of weed for anxiety?

When you consult a healthcare professional about using marijuana to treat anxiety, you'll usually get suggestions for which type of weed is best. Strains with high levels of CBD and modest THC are best to avoid potential negative effects. 

Popular choices of high CBD weed for anxiety include: 


CBD ACDC is named after a legendary rock band and typically contains 18% CBD. There's no cerebral high, but it clears the mind and almost instantly lifts your mood. The citrus flavor and alluring aromas enhance the tranquil feelings induced by this strain.

2. CBD Harlequin

CBD Harlequin is a sativa strain that counteracts stress and paranoia. It has distinct fruity flavors that leave you with an aftertaste of mango. It's great for day use, as it doesn't sedate or intoxicate. 

CBD Harlequin
CBD Harlequin

3. Cannatonic

Cannatonic is usually high on the list of marijuana for anxiety options. It produces a mellow high that doesn't last long. The therapeutic benefits assist with a variety of conditions, including muscle spasms and migraines.


4. CBD Med Gom

CBD Med Gom is a therapeutic strain. This cultivar is used for multiple ailments and has a balanced THC-CBD ratio. It's a popular choice of weed for anxiety. The effects are calming, yet uplifting without producing a psychedelic high.

When you consume it in higher doses you might experience a slight buzz that doesn’t overwhelm you. It also helps induce sleep.

CBD Med Gom
CBD Med Gom

5. CBD Critical Mass

This cultivar is a sought-after 1:1 THC/CBD ratio. It’s herbal and earthy and offers tokers full-body relaxation with a chance of couch-lock. The CBD Critical Mass has a calming effect on the mind and may induce munchies.

 CBD Critical Mass
CBD Critical Mass

6. CBD Ratio 1:30

CBD Ratio 1:30 is an excellent cannabis for anxiety. It contains an extremely high amount of CBD and minimal THC and it’s an excellent choice for sensitive users. It induces a soothing, comfortable experience that keeps you calm, and relaxed.

CBD ratio 1:30

Final Points about marijuana and anxiety

Does marijuana help with anxiety? Yes—if consumed correctly, it can ease your mind and put you in a peaceful state. The trick is to select a strain with the ideal cannabis compounds and ingest it through tinctures or vaping.

Each individual reacts differently to THC, so starting with small doses is the best way to find the right quantity for your condition. If you're already taking anti-anxiety medication, speak to your doctor before self-medicating with marijuana for anxiety. 

When you use medical marijuana to treat this ailment, your symptoms are relieved almost instantly. Speak to your doctor about incorporating medical marijuana for anxiety into your treatment plan.

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