One of the most important parts of using cannabis is understanding that it can affect everyone very differently. For example, can cannabis cause paranoia? For some people, it can relax them and send them into a wonderful state of bliss, but for others, it can provoke their anxiety and cause them to become very paranoid. What is it about cannabis that causes this? Let’s find out.
There is a component of cannabis that is known as THC which is the major intoxicating compound in cannabis. When used, it can be responsible for stimulating paranoia when too much of it is taken. In 2014, a research study was done on cannabis and paranoia involving 121 participants who were given either intravenous THC, an amount equivalent to a strong joint, or a placebo. The results showed that THC can trigger paranoia in individuals who are more inclined toward paranoid thinking: Fifty percent of the volunteers given THC experienced paranoia, compared to 30% of the volunteers who received a placebo. This study thus affirmed that THC can cause paranoia. Understanding why paranoid thoughts occur and how to avoid or manage them when consuming cannabis can empower you, rather than leave you feeling fearful of using it.
There are other ways in which cannabis can cause paranoia including overstimulating the brain. THC can activate endocannabinoid receptors throughout the brain, including in the amygdala. The amygdala plays a critical role in regulating fear-related responses, such as anxiety, stress, and paranoia, so large doses of THC can thus overstimulate the amygdala, leading to an onslaught of fear or anxiety-based responses. This over-activation of negative emotions can kick off paranoia.
So what can someone do when they start to experience this paranoid feeling? Well, CBD has been found to help ease the paranoia that THC can exacerbate. In a 2021 study, individuals were given 10 milligrams of THC and then exposed to fearful faces. These individuals experienced greater amygdala activation than those who were given CBD. The CBD cohort of the study actually saw amygdala activity decrease! Another study compared the effects of CBD and THC-dominant cannabis cultivars and found that the CBD-dominant cultivars triggered an instant reduction in tension and anxiety, while the THC-dominant strains saw a spike in paranoia in users immediately following consumption.
We recommend starting out low and slow when using cannabis products to help keep cannabis-induced paranoia from occurring. Start with a low dose such as one to two hits of a joint and allow the effects from that to hit you before you decide to consume more. As you become familiar with how the plant interacts with your body, you can start to adjust your dose, increasing slowly until you hit your personal sweet spot. The sweet spot represents the dose that delivers the desired outcome you want without unwanted effects, such as paranoia. And if you do find yourself getting too high and paranoid, it’s always good to have some CBD handy to help calm those feelings and bring you back to a state of bliss.
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