While there has been little scholarly research dedicated to the benefits of marijuana for anxiety, there have been independent studies that do concur that marijuana can help with conditions, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other anxiety driven medical conditions. If you have been considering using marijuana to try and manage your anxiety, this is what you need to know.

The Chemical Compounds in Marijuana

Marijuana is comprised of two main chemical compounds, THC and CBD. THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that helps many people relax and have a “high” feeling. However, some people get agitated from THC and have heightened anxiety. Most often this anxiety is over getting caught using the drug. In areas where marijuana has been legalized, this type of anxiety is far less common.

CBD is extracted from marijuana in the form of an oil. It contains no THC, and therefore is legal and will not show up in drug tests, if you need to take one. CBD is known to help relieve users from anxiety, pain, and a wide array of other conditions. It can be taken orally, vaped, in cream form and more.

Is Using Marijuana a Form of Self Medicating?

In states where medical marijuana has been legalized, patients are prescribed marijuana by a licensed and Certified Medicinal Marijuana physician. These doctors feel that marijuana will help their patients to have less anxiety. It is also used for pain management.

In states that medical marijuana has not been legalized, or marijuana itself is not legal, patients are turning to marijuana as an alternative to taking a lot of prescription medications that cause side effects or when they cannot get a prescription for their anxiety. These patients are self-medicating. They are not under the care or guidance of a doctor and they are getting the drug from the street.

Additionally, medical marijuana is grown in a controlled setting, where street marijuana may be cross-contaminated with another drug, also known as lacing. Marijuana that is laced with another drug can be dangerous.

How Long Does Marijuana Stay In The Body?

Marijuana does not stay in the body for very long. It is a short-term fix for a chronic problem. Patients who use marijuana for their anxiety will typically get a short reprieve from their anxiety, but once the effects of the marijuana wear off, their anxiety tends to return. There is no long-term solution to extending the life of marijuana use. The only thing that you can do is ingest or smoke more marijuana to, once again, relieve anxiety. This no different than taking a prescription anxiety medication, however, there are long-lasting medications available. When used properly, a good deal of anxiety can be kept under control.

Is it Dangerous to Use Marijuana?

Known as a “gateway drug” some scientists feel that using marijuana increases the chances of using other illegal drugs. Others disagree with this position. Statistically, there have been no known deaths from marijuana use and it is not addictive. While you do experience a “high” from the THC, it’s not the same type of high created by opioid use.  

If you are using marijuana to treat anxiety, it can potentially create a psychological dependence. While the person using it is not addicted to the marijuana, they may continually need it to reduce their anxiety. This is no different than someone being dependent on prescription anxiety medication; what is different is that you can become addicted to the prescription varieties, such as Xanax and Ativan.

To avoid any potential psychological dependency, an alternative method is using talk therapy to learn coping and relaxation skills.

Can you Develop a Tolerance for Marijuana?

Those who use marijuana frequently may need to use more, as time goes by, to get the same high. However, this is more common with street marijuana, where the user does not know the type or source of the drug. Medical marijuana is highly-regulated and you are more apt to get a consistent level of THC and CBD when purchasing the same type of marijuana from a dispensary.

There are many factors to take into consideration regarding using marijuana for anxiety. Yes, marijuana does help many users overcome anxiety. However, knowing exactly what you are getting is a key element. If you live in a state that does not allow the use of medical marijuana, you can never be sure exactly what you are buying. That alone can cause anxiety. In states that allow medical marijuana, or where marijuana has been legalized for recreational use, the plants are grown in a controlled environment and there is no chance of getting a laced batch.

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