Why Does Cannabis Make You Paranoid?

Even the most experienced and responsible cannabis consumers have likely experienced mild paranoid moments while high. Here’s why it happens and how to avoid it.

If you’ve ever experienced a severe bout of paranoia while consuming cannabis, you know how stressful it can be. Why exactly do uninvited feelings of paranoia happen when you least expect them? Are there strains that you can consume to completely avoid paranoia? Let’s find out.

What’s the link between weed & paranoia?

The link, it seems, happens in a collection of cells near the base of the brain, the amygdala. There are two amygdalae, one in each hemisphere of the brain responsible for giving meaning to emotions, memories and attached associations with memories. Cannabis shows up to the party bringing THC, the psychoactive compound, which binds to endocannabinoid receptors in various parts of the brain, including the amygdala. Things get interesting when the dose, or amount of THC you consume, reaches levels that may overstimulate the amygdala.

Why do I get paranoid when I smoke cannabis?

Why might you become paranoid when consuming cannabis? The answer is relatively complex—as complex as your unique brain chemistry. There are a few studies that suggest genetics, estrogen levels in your body and, as mentioned above, overstimulation of the amygdala might cause feelings of stress, anxiety and paranoia. It may also come as no surprise that folks with pre-existing anxiety may be more susceptible to bouts of paranoia. Meanwhile, your doobie brother feels all kinds of fine at the same time.

How to control paranoia when smoking weed?

Selecting the right strain for you, coupled with knowing your dosing limits, is a great way to reduce the risk of feeling paranoid while getting high. Controlling the effects of cannabis is nuanced and is an individual journey heavily predicated on the user balancing self-awareness with decent critical thinking skills.

Be mindful of mixing cannabis with alcohol-based beverages, particularly if you are unsure of the THC dosage or the attributes of the strain. Similarly, if you are going through a rough patch in life, choosing to abstain all together might be a good choice, depending on how you’ve responded to stress and anxiety in the past.

Some cannabis consumers report reduced feelings of stress and anxiety when consuming cannabis strains high in CBD (a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis). CBD is generally associated with positive physical and emotional benefits such as reduced anxiety, stress, inflammation and an increase in feelings of well-being and glowing happiness.

The bottom line is, when you consume cannabis responsibly, choose high-quality organic products and surround yourself with people you trust, the chances of having a negative experience decrease significantly. This means if someone offers you a gigantic pot brownie moments before heading into a sea of party-goers at a music festival, and you take a huge bite, you’ve just rolled the dice. You’d be much better off rolling the perfect sized joint with a couple great friends before heading into the big show.