Does Medical Marijuana Reduce or Increase Anxiety? That Depends.

Feeling stressed out and anxious? Cannabis may or may not be just what the doctor ordered. Reducing anxiety and relieving stress are two of the top reasons given by Florida patients requesting medical marijuana cards. Some patients swear by cannabis as a way to treat anxiety disorders such as GAD, OCD, PTSD, and panic attacks, however others claim that marijuana gives them feelings of paranoia and increases anxiety. How can medical marijuana have one effect on some people and a different effect on others?

The Entourage Effect

Unlike most prescription medications, the effects of cannabis are not due to a single active ingredient. Cannabis is a very complex plant which produces a variety of active ingredients, most notably cannabinoids and terpenes. The balance of these compounds often determines the effects of a particular strain. Certain cannabinoids and terpenes are known to reduce anxiety and improve mood. The overall effect produced by any particular strain of cannabis is known as the entourage effect. But that’s not the entire story.

Cannabis is Biphasic

Cannabis, as a drug, is considered to be biphasic. What that means is that it has different effects depending on the dosage. A perfect example of a biphasic drug is alcohol. In small doses alcohol can increase energy and sociability, but in large doses it’s a powerful depressant and can knock a person out for hours.

The same is true with cannabis and anxiety. Certain strains, in small doses will relieve anxiety. However, taken in larger doses, many users report severe feelings of paranoia.

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