Why smoking marijuana makes some people paranoid

You’ve probably heard the old saying “Just cause you think you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you” and this most likely won’t do much to calm your nerves. But it does bring up a good point about marijuana usage as it relates to paranoia. Cannabis consumers really have had people “out to get them” throughout basically all of the 20th century, and marijuana has been demonized for nearly a century since it was criminalized ( which again, was largely because of racist intentions where white people were literally looking for ways to lock up blacks and latinos ). So it’s not really a surprise that cannabis users report to have higher instances of fear and anxiety when using the drug. Getting caught could cost them their job, their property, and even their families.  So there is a very real reason to be scared when smoking weed. But I don’t think that’s all there is to it. When ingesting marijuana “the high” we experience often heightens our perceptions of the world. For inexperienced users, or those who don’t moderate their dose carefully, this can cause confusion and a sense of unease.  Furthermore, individuals with proclivities towards obsessive or anxious thoughts can also experience more negative self talk.  This is hilariously depicted in the video below from Louis CK describing his experience smoking a joint in a parking lot with a bunch of his fans.

I think this is an experience that most of us reading this can actually relate to. And his insights are hilarious. But what’s not as funny is that this sort of paranoia and insecurity is actually what a lot of people who suffer from anxiety suffer from as well. I should know, I was diagnosed and prescribed medication for it.  In my late teens I suffered from panic attacks. Real panic attacks that were debilitating. I was prescribed a bunch of shit, all of which made my symptoms worse.  So I finally had to quit cold turkey all the prescription meds ( by the way. I’m not anti-pharmaceuticals. I think they work for some people. They just didn’t for me ) . I started smoking weed after this point ( about 18) and everything changed, but I quickly realized how important it was to moderate my dose. My friend ( who also quit her meds ) even joked and called it the “marijuana maintenance program” .

But I’m not going to lie, I have smoked and experienced anxiety or paranoia as I think I’m susceptible to these sorts of thoughts normally.  The one thing that marijuana has greatly helped however is that much like with the Louis CK video, I’ve learned to find my anxious thoughts as humorous and became aware more of my own negative self talk.  The thing that has really helped me personally was to meditate, and learn to be conscious of my breathing.  I did yoga for a while, and I’m sure that helps some people but what I’m talking about is even simpler than yoga. It’s jsut getting in touch with your breath, and being aware of your body and your feelings. If I’m feeling anxious I can now become more aware of what these feelings are. Simply take a few deep breaths, and get back into the rhythm of the present. Marijuana has been invaluable to me in treating this. But as I said before, how much you ingest is critical to getting the maximum benefits of using marijuana to treat paranoia and anxiety. Too much and the reverse can occur and actually exacerbate the symptoms which are being experienced.  That’s one reason why I have a problem with this study called “How cannabis causes paranoia” . The amount they gave all the subjects was the equivalent of a “very strong joint” and if I smoked a very strong joint all by myself I’d also be completely wacko. And this is coming from somebody who has smoked for over two decades now.  I never smoke than one or two hits, a gram will last me a week, and I don’t like getting completely stoned. For me, and thousands of others who use cannabis to treat anxiety and paranoid thoughts the dosage is essential to relieving the symptoms. One or two mini hits and I’m set. I wish there would be more studies into the beneficial effects that small dosages of cannabis can have on individuals such as myself.