In Your Head - Why Cannabis Paranoia Happens | cannabisMD

It’s All in Your Head – Why Cannabis Paranoia Happens

Why Cannabis paranoia happens

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Brain chemistry is unique to everyone, which is why we all exhibit different symptoms. Learn why for some people, weed paranoia can occur.

Have you ever wondered why weed makes you paranoid?

If you’re someone who has drifted away from weed due to paranoia, you might be stunned to learn that people use it to get rid of other forms of paranoia. Since cannabis is proven to help improve the lives of many who live with anxiety, why does it do the opposite for some people?

Many factors contribute to weed paranoia. Dosage, mental state, social stigma, and environment play a huge role in these feelings. Ahead, we’ll explore this further and give you more insight into why smoking weed can cause paranoia in some people.

Weed Paranoia

Although many associate weed with feelings of euphoria, some have a much more difficult time letting go on the substance. If you smoke weed regularly, you can probably think of at least a handful of times where your paranoia got the better of you.

Some of this fear is caused by the environment and stigma of the drug. If you’re at the movies and see a police officer, you may have an irrational fear that they know you’re high. You might be acting as you would sober – and the officer would have no reason to stop you – but you skipped the concessions just to avoid further suspicion or embarrassment.

On the contrary, if you’re at home watching something on TV, there’s little reason to become paranoid about anything. There aren’t many outside stimuli, and you can relax knowing no one will know or care that you’re a bit high.

Brain Chemistry

The reason weed reduces anxiety in some and increases it in others is completely based on brain chemistry.

THC is interacting with your brain and causing a chemical shift that will alter your emotions. Many times the shift will be positive, but sometimes that emotional reaction can be overwhelming and lead to thoughts of paranoia.

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

The ECS is essential in understanding the relationship between cannabis in our brain. Cannabinoid receptors interact with the cannabinoids in marijuana, but also with the endocannabinoids that already exist in our brain. Those who experience regular anxiety usually have a shortage of the endocannabinoids.
For people with fewer naturally-produced endocannabinoids, marijuana can reduce anxiety and make them feel relaxed. Smoking weed helps balance their brain chemistry, which will make them feel “normal” in small doses.

This system also explains why some people are more prone to an increase of anxiety. If your brain chemistry is normal and you’re not used to smoking weed, you may be overwhelmed by anxious feelings for the first few times.

New vs. Seasoned Users

There is no doubt that there’s a difference between how longtime users and new users react to marijuana. If you’ve been smoking for years, it’s far less likely that you’ll experience weed paranoia than if you’re just trying it for the first time.

We’re not saying that you should use it every day, but the effects lower over time. If the first time you used marijuana created an intense feeling of paranoia, chances are you’ll feel this less frequently the more you use it.

If you didn’t like it the first time, give it another chance in more comfortable circumstances. Smoke weed or eat edibles with people you know well, in an environment that’s non-threatening. Most of the time, it’s these outside factors contributing to weed paranoia more than anything else.

Indica and Sativa

Almost all marijuana strains come from two types: indica and sativa. Both of these have their benefits and drawbacks, but people use them for very different symptoms.

Indica is much more of a relaxing high. People tend to use this type of cannabis when they want to fall asleep. It also helps relax the muscles which is one reason people use it to combat pain they have in their bodies.

Satvia is practically the opposite of indica. It will wake you up like a cup of coffee. People tend to use this type of weed during the day, as there’s less of a chance they’ll “crash” and get tired.

Out of the two major types of cannabis, sativa causes more paranoid thoughts than indica. Indica is far more relaxing and higher in CBD than sativa. CBD can help combat some of the paranoid feelings you may experience while smoking, so if you find yourself getting paranoid, you may want to try indica instead.

Combating Weed Paranoia

If you’re prone to paranoia but still enjoy the recreational and medicinal benefits of cannabis, there are several things you can do to limit its effect on your mental state. Cannabis has a long list of health benefits, so it’s worth trying to limit the negative effects to get the most out of the substance.


Cannabis contains both THC and CBD. THC is responsible for the feeling of euphoria, which most people refer to as the “high” you get from smoking weed. Unfortunately, it’s also the ingredient that causes the weed paranoia you might be experiencing.

CBD, on the other hand, helps does not have any psychoactive effect on your brain. Many believe that it actually combats the negative effects of THC. If you experience an overwhelming amount of weed paranoia when you ingest it, try sticking to strains with higher CBD than THC.

You can even take this a step further, and use CBD oil that doesn’t contain any THC. CBD oil can combat social anxiety, and you won’t end up feeling high or paranoid like you might with THC.


The dosage is another huge factor when it comes to reducing paranoia. It should be obvious that taking a large amount of any mind-altering drug will cause some side effects. If you ingest a lot of marijuana, you’re going to have a powerful experience. Some even compare taking a large amount of weed to a psychedelic experience, which some people aren’t prepared for.

If edibles are too much for you, stay away from them. It can be hard to determine how much of an edible you should take, especially if you aren’t well-versed in how it affects you. It takes up to an hour to kick in, and by that time it’s too late to turn back.

If you have healthy lungs, smoking or vaporizing weed is probably the best option for you. The effects take over in seconds or minutes, which will give you a better idea of whether or not you should take more or stop where you are.

Edibles are fantastic for some people, but overkill for many. If you’re new to cannabis, start by vaporizing instead of jumping straight to edibles. You’ll probably have a better time.

A Comfortable Environment

If social anxiety becomes too much when you smoke, try to eliminate whatever is causing you stress. Smoke weed in the comfort of your own home. Don’t go out and become overwhelmed with the number of people around you.

A lot of weed paranoia has to do with outside stimuli. Someone you don’t know is looking at you, and you might think they know you’re high. They probably don’t, but it’s better to stay out of these situations if you know that’s how you’re going to think.

If you take other people out of the equation, you’ll likely be much happier with your experience. There’s no reason to be paranoid when it’s just you, a bowl of popcorn, and your favorite TV show.

Clearing Your Mind

One of the best ways to get rid of any negative thoughts is by meditating. Once you practice clearing your mind, it becomes easier every time you try to do it. In moments of extreme paranoia, focus on your breathing and remind yourself that everything is alright.

Tell yourself that there’s nothing to be afraid of and that it’s all in your head. Take some deep breaths and try to think about something else. Before long, you’ll probably even forget why you were paranoid in the first place.

Above all: remember that this feeling is only temporary. The effects will wear off in a couple of hours. You’ll be back to normal before you know it, and all of you feelings of fear will be gone. Weed doesn’t last forever, so just ride it out, and you’ll be okay.

Weed Paranoia Is All In Your Mind!

Weed paranoia is relatively normal, but that doesn’t mean it’s universal. Most people love the feeling that weed gives them, and the medical benefits are too great to ignore. From social anxiety disorders to PTSD, marijuana can help people get through their day where prescription drugs often fail.

If you’ve been experiencing anxiety when you smoke or eat weed, try again without so much environmental stress. A lot of the time, these paranoid thoughts come from external sources instead of our own minds. Remember that the effects will eventually go away, and try to enjoy the positives of the experience.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
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1 Comment

  1. t.e. awls says:

    Unfortunately for me, I got high on a fairly regular basis (4-5 times a week) for ten years, and always got paranoid every single time. The only place where I was less so, was in my bedroom by myself. Even leaving the bedroom induced paranoia and panic. much less leaving the house. Even after quitting getting high, I suffered for nearly two years with severe panic attacks.

    I tried CBD oil several times last year and although I did not get paranoid, I felt as if I had a mild fever. I did not like it. I tired differing doses at different times of day, all with the same slightly “out of it” effect.

    Have you ever heard of someone with the symptoms?

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