marijuana and anxiety


Marijuana for Anxiety

marijuana for anxiety

Marijuana and CBD:Benefit or Harm for Anxiety

Key Points: There is no evidence that THC based marijuana is helpful for anxiety.


Is marijuana helpful for anxiety?

Every person responds differently. You always need to be the one to decide and determine what is best for you.

There is a good reason that many states have legalized marajiuana for medicinal use! There is evidence that THC-based marijuana helps with sleep, pain, and nausea.
Currently there is no scientific evidence that THC BASED marijuana is beneficial for general anxiety.


Key Points:

  • CBD seems helpful for most  anxiety disorders. 
  • It is shown to decrease anxiety in the short term
  • It has possible uses in conjunction with therapy


Unlike THC, CBD studies suggest it is helpful for anxiety. Several studies show that CBD reduces anxiety and can help people proceed with tasks that they found too overwhelming, like public speaking. CBD could be a treatment
for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely ( it decreases anxiety at the moment); however, we don’t
know if CBD could be given long term, or if it would work on these disorders over the course of their illness.

Perhaps used in conjunction with a good therapist, CBD could help people with phobias and other anxieties to do the things that scare them with much less distress. One study showed that CBD helped ENHANCE the learning of the
people after doing exposure therapy. It is difficult to control the type of CBD administered in studies, and more research is needed, but the use of CBD as a treatment for anxiety shows much promise.

Marijuana for Anxiety: Breaking Down The Terms

Key Points:

  • There are two main compounds: THC and CBD
  • THC is what gets you high
  • CBD is what has anitinflammatory and antioxident properties


When we talk about marijuana, we usually mean the marijuana you smoke that makes you high. 


There are two main types of marijuana plant Cannabis Sativa and
Cannabis Indica. From each of these plants come different compounds.

These compounds are called cannabinoids.

The two main compounds we will be talking about when talking about marijuana and anxiety are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and
Cannabidiol (CBD). 

There are 113 identified cannabinoids in cannabis plants! CBD and THC and account for about 40 percent of the plant extract.


  • THC is the main psychoactive compound that leads to you getting high.
  • CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.


When looking at anxiety and marijuana, it’s important to DISTINGUISH between these two compounds.


Increase in Marijuana Use

Key Points:

  • Marijuana use has increased among those who have anxiety and mental health issues
  • Dispensaries are dishonest and market strains for anxiety when none exist


Statistics show that between 2007 and 2014 there has been a 45 percent increase in the use of marijuana. Those who are heavy users and smoking daily increased from 1 in 9 to 1 to 3 from 1992 -2014.

People who struggle with their mental health are the group that is smoking the most, especially in the states where marijuana has been legalized.

Dispensaries are dishonest in advertising. 

Dispensaries in these states make false claims that they sell certain strains of marijuana for anxiety  but no research has been done on these strains and each person will have a different response. False advertising abounds.


THC Based Marijuana is shown to Increase Anxiety in the Long Run

Key Points: 

  • THC based marijuana maintains avoidance and has been shown to increase anxiety in the long run
  • New strains of marijuana have been shown to cause a worsening of adolescent mental health and in worse cases, psychosis

Many people believe that because marijuana is natural, it must be good for treating anxiety.  It helps explain why 30 percent of people use THC based marijuana for anxiety. 

However, what the research suggests is that THC based marijuana has the potential to increase anxiety in the long run, even if it seems to decrease it temporarily. This is because avoidance maintains anxiety. For the same reason Xanax is not a good treatment for anxiety, marijuana may not be. You aren’t learning any skills to cope.


Furthermore, in higher doses, it THC the ability to induce paranoia and panic attacks.


If you become a heavy user of THC-based marijuana, there is a possibility that you may create dependency and withdrawal symptoms which make it harder for you to cope with your anxiety. In this case, smoking or taking marijuana for anxiety in the short run, can make it worse in the long run.


Individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder  are the most likely to use THC-based marijuana as medication.

 Although there are drawbacks and possible problems to using marijuana to medicate your anxiety, you may see less. Some people may have a good relationship with marijuana, which may help them manage their anxiety, especially when integrated into a part of a bigger wellness plan.

Some of the dangers include: 


  • Psychological dependence
  • Exacerbation of symptoms
  • Reliance on the marijuana
  • Interference in learning how to manage anxiety without the marijuana


In adolescents, heavy THC-based marijuana use can lead to the early onset of depression, psychosis, or permanent IQ changes. I was shocked to learn this information, but it seems that this is linked to how marijuana is formulated, stronger, and more potent.


You might like these

Lee JLC, Bertoglio LJ, Guimarães FS, Stevenson CW. Cannabidiol regulation of emotion and emotional memory processing: relevance for treating anxiety-related and substance abuse disorders. Br J Pharmacol. 2017
Oct;174(19):3242-3256. doi: 10.1111/bph.13724. Epub 2017 Mar 9. PMID: 28268256; PMCID: PMC5595771.

Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015 Oct;12(4):825-36. doi: 10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1. PMID: 26341731; PMCID: PMC4604171.

Marijuana and CBD: Benefit or Harm for Anxiety? Featuring: Robert Yielding, PsyD ADAA webinar February 15 2021

Medical information obtained from this website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.

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