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The reason for this response to using cannabis is because of one compound: THC. THC is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, and it is the compound responsible for creating a psychoactive high. CBD is also a cannabinoid, and hemp-derived CBD has flooded the cannabis marketplace because it doesn’t have enough THC to create a psychoactive effect. Well, that isn’t the only reason for its surge in popularity, but minimal THC is a lucrative and primary selling-point for hemp-derived CBD.
The problem in itself is not THC as a phytocannabinoid. THC alone doesn’t cause anxiety, or else everyone would react the same way every time they consume cannabis. When you use cannabis, your amygdala is stimulated. The amygdala is the part of the brain that regulates fear and paranoia, and the amygdala has cannabinoid receptors - ready and waiting to receive THC! Sometimes, that portion of the brain can become overstimulated - resulting in paranoia.
Though this happens, THC is full of powerful therapeutic value that should not be forgotten! THC has been known to help reduce nausea from chemotherapy, aid the anti-inflammatory response in those with chronic pain, and more. There’s a few different theories to explain why some are more prone to feeling paranoid, but some common ones include:
This 2014 study examined THC tolerance in lab rats. It found evidence that higher estrogen levels can increase cannabis sensitivity by as much as 30%, as well as create an overall lower tolerance for marijuana. If your sex is female, you might be predisposed to experiencing paranoid when using cannabis!
Obviously, cannabis products with a higher THC content might cause some paranoia. Consistently using the same product and serving size can avoid this issue. Also, give the cannabis time to work! Using too much cannabis is another way to trigger paranoia.
It is especially important to give edibles time to work before eating more, as it can take some time to feel the full effects!
Pantry Co’s vegan jellies are great for this because you only have to eat one at a time, the rest can be saved for later (or in a few minutes) in the resealable jar! It makes it super easy to microdose, and avoid going overboard on THC.
For a long time, people have believed that cannabis amplifies your surroundings. A 2014 study found this to be true, and that THC causes heightened sensory perception. This means food tastes better (we all know that), noises are louder, colors are brighter, and your senses are just generally...more. If you’re in a stressed state of mind, using cannabis at the wrong time might enhance that stress. Make sure you’re doing well mentally, and if you’re not and trying to use cannabis to relax, prepare a calm and safe environment.
The reason cannabis works to reduce anxiety is because of the endocannabinoid system. We mentioned endocannabinoid receptors above when we mentioned the amygdala, and those receptors are part of a greater bodily system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is responsible for receiving cannabinoids by way of these receptors, and using them to help the body return to a place of homeostasis.
When these cannabinoids stimulate the proper endocannabinoid receptors in an appropriate way, your anxiety and stress can be reduced.
A great way to stimulate the ECS is by consuming a 1:1 cannabis product, that is equal parts THC and equal parts cannabis, and in a low-dose format! THC and CBD (and the other cannabinoids) work well together, and produce a phenomenon called the entourage effect when consumed together.
Don’t let all of this talk about THC causing anxiety scare you. While it does happen, the therapeutic value of THC is so great - you shouldn’t miss out! THC is also a stimulant, and it can gently uplift those who are feeling down because of stress and anxiety. It can get the mind going, and really shift your perspective and focus if used appropriately.
Not to mention, there are a few different things you can do to avoid paranoia from creeping in. We mentioned a few of these, but we’ll recap for ya: