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Cannabis and Anxiety


Can I smoke weed if I get anxious?

Since legalization and even before, let’s face it. Lots of people are getting high. Many people enjoy the effects of cannabis, and others do not. It’s very similar to alcohol this way, in that it is a very subjective experience.

I get anxious, so I don’t smoke

Many people who suffer from anxiety tend to stay away from cannabis because they’ve heard that they should, and that when they smoke they will get anxious and maybe even panic. Although this is true in some cases, some people who suffer from anxiety can benefit greatly from using cannabis. So, how do you navigate the landscape?

The four steps of pharmacokinetics

First, let’s discuss how it actually works. Why do you get high at all? This process is called pharmacokinetics. There are four steps to this process: absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination.

1. When you smoke weed, THCA is converted into THC and ‘activated’. THC is absorbed into your bloodstream within minutes of smoking at concentrations of 10-30%.

2. After it enters the bloodstream, where does it go? THC is very lipophilic. This means it likes fatty tissues. With any chronic use of cannabis, THC is distributed among these tissues. This is how regular smokers test positive for THC in their body even after 4 weeks of non-use.

3. People who take medications should consult their doctors before trying cannabis products. This is because THC is metabolized mainly within the liver, like most things. It recruits hepatic enzymes to help with the metabolism, but this can potentially leave your other medication with fewer enzymes to metabolize them. There has been cases where interaction between metabolizing Prozac and THC resulted in mania.

4. THC remains in the blood for 6 minutes up to 22 hours, after which it is eliminated. You might wonder why your high lasts for so long after that 6 minute period. Here is a video that can help to explain.

The common question: I get anxious smoking weed sometimes. Other times I have an awesome time. Why?

It differs person to person

When it comes to smoking weed, one of the most common things people complain about is anxiety. Sometimes, the psychotropic effects of cannabis can really mess with your head. Some people can smoke endless amounts and still be as chill as a cucumber. Others take one toke and think their heart is going to beat itself out of their chests and they’re going to die. So, what’s the difference? Why do some people react this way and others don’t?

Not enough science behind it, yet

Unfortunately, because of limited studies on illegal substances, scientists have long been banned from studying the effects of cannabis on people. Hopefully with legalization in full swing more concrete research will emerge. In the meantime, there are endless accounts of anecdotal evidence in this budding industry (pun intended), so let’s take a look at those.

Look for CBD-rich strains

If you are prone to anxiety, remember that CBD tempers the psychoactive effects of THC. Strains that have a high CBD content are often described as relaxing, calm, mellow and chill.

Why aren’t there more CBD strains?

The black market has long cultivated THC-rich strains, always selected the more THC heavy phenotypes to breed with one another. It was simply a product of supply and demand. Usually, people buying weed are looking for the “strongest”, “heaviest” or “most potent” strains. When the medicinal cannabis market emerged, there became a need for CBD-rich or CBD-only strains. Patients didn’t always require the pulsing THC highs for their medicine. They were more interested in the therapeutic, calming effects of CBD. Since this time, cultivators have specifically attempted to grow strains rich in CBD.

Some famous CBD strains

Some famous CBD strains to look for are Cannatonic, Charlotte’s Web, Harlequin, Sour Tsunami and Pennywise.
If there are no CBD strain options, choose an indica over a sativa
If you have anxious tendencies, seek out indica strains if you can’t find any CBD strains. Indica strains generally tend to have a higher CBD content than sativas. Usually, indicas generate sedative and relaxing effects that are felt mostly in the body over the mind.

Stay away from the Haze

People who suffer from anxiety should normally steer clear of any strain with the name “Haze” in it. Hazes tend to have very potent cerebral effects that can be disorientating or mildly psychedelic. Some examples are Super Lemon Haze, Super Silver Haze, Amnesia Haze, Original Haze, Neville’s Haze, Lemon Haze and Silver Haze.

Try low dose edibles

If all you can see on the shelf are hazes and sativa, first thing to do is find a new place to buy weed. In the meantime, you can try some low dose edibles. Edibles have effects felt mostly in the body, and not the mind. At higher doses edibles can be debilitating, but in small doses you will experience a happy full body buzz, while maintaining a clear and alert mind.

Now get out there!

Now you are equipped with more information to safely consume cannabis. If you suffer from anxiety, it doesn’t mean cannabis is completely off limits for you. Always remember, start low and go slow. Once you can understand how your body reacts to different strains and different doses, you will be able to consume cannabis safely, and maybe it will even help your anxiety!

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