Cannabis and Anxiety Effects

It’s complicated, but there are some encouraging clues

by Dessy Pavlova · February 02, 2023

Cannabis and anxiety have a complicated relationship, with some cannabis users finding relief from anxiety, while others might feel elevated anxiety symptoms. As restrictions against medical cannabis are gradually lowering, or in some States, have been entirely removed, so have the limitations that hindered researchers’ ability to study the plant’s potential therapeutic effects.

There is a growing body of evidence that cannabis use can be beneficial for a variety of health conditions. Research studies into the exact relationship between cannabis use and mental illnesses like anxiety are still underway, and more research is needed.

Always uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating, clinical anxiety and stress can themselves become causes of other health issues, so new therapies and drugs to treat those suffering are always welcome and urgently needed by those whose conditions are resistant to established treatments. A definitive link between cannabis use and decreased anxiety can be a tremendous tool in the coping kit for those dealing with the condition. More studies are required to accurately predict how different strains, potencies, and dosages will affect anxiety patients.

What we know about cannabis and anxiety

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of weed’s relationship with anxiety. Many users indeed report that they use cannabis to relax, reduce stress, and take the edge off the day, but one will also invariably hear reports of cannabis use actually causing or worsening anxiety symptoms. Since there is endless variability in factors like dosage, potency, strain, tolerance, frequency of use, and cannabinoid profile across the whole spectrum of users, carefully controlled studies of a sufficient size are needed to pinpoint precisely what is common among all users who report alleviation of anxiety after consuming cannabis.

Cannabis and anxiety study findings

Studies are continuously underway examining how cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and lesser-known compounds like CBN and CBG, in combination and on their own, affect the brain and nervous system in both the short and long term.

Evidence supports the initial hypothesis that the type and dosage of cannabis used and a person’s own tolerance will determine the level of anxiety it will either alleviate or cause. Low doses of THC can reduce anxiety for some individuals, even though the intoxicating effect of the compound at higher doses can increase anxiety. CBD on its own has been shown to reduce anxiety, and studies continue to determine how the various cannabinoids work in concert to affect mental states and cognition.

Studies in microdosing, gaining significant traction due to the relationship between psychedelics and depression, are reaching into the cannabis sphere, with one study linking small doses of a synthetic cannabinoid with improved symptoms in those suffering from PTSD.

More work to be done in cannabis research

Decades of prohibition means that more research is needed to determine the precise relationship between weed and anxiety, but this applies to all areas of study into the relationship between cannabis use and health; researchers are essentially trying to catch up with other fields of study.

There are a number of studies that have been conducted on cannabis and anxiety.

Key facts about cannabis and anxiety

When it comes to cannabis and anxiety, everyone is different. Doses, cultivars, and your own personal genetics all factor in on how cannabis might affect anxiety symptoms.

  • Cannabis can reduce anxiety in some people, especially in low doses, and anecdotally serves as stress relief
  • High THC, sativa-like products are more likely to increase anxiety symptoms
  • High CBD products may reduce anxiety symptoms

Do you use cannabis to treat anxiety?