Why Does Cannabis Cause for Some People Paranoia? [ANSWERED]

Paranoia is a fearful state of mind which affects not only some cannabis users, but also those who do not consume marijuana. Experiencing paranoia can be extremely uncomfortable and at times frustrating, but it sometimes goes unnoticed because the delusion feels incredibly real to the individual experiencing it. For this reason, paranoia can be especially frightening, especially in extreme cases, because it becomes challenging to differentiate between fact and fiction.

Much talk exists about cannabis promoting paranoia, which can sometimes be a side effect attached with the consumption of some cannabis strains. However, it is not as clear cut as this. Numerous factors exist which contribute to whether or not a certain cannabis type will produce a bout of paranoia for a specific person. In this article, we’ll be discussing this topic in detail to not only clarify misinformation, but also to provide further (and hopefully helpful) details.

Keep reading to learn about Why Weed Causes Some People to Have Paranoia…

What Exactly Defines Paranoia?

Paranoia is described as an occurrence that causes someone to lose touch with reality, where their thoughts genuinely begin to over-consume them. These thoughts are typically related to someone desiring to do harm to them, someone talking about them, or someone about to take a certain action towards them, and can be not only related to fearful occurrences but also to anxious ones as well. In extreme cases, paranoia can be a result of mental illness such as schizophrenia or psychosis, but not everyone who experiences paranoia is experiencing psychosis.

Although the two are related, they are also separate, for psychosis has many additional dimensions. Most of all, paranoia is defined by being a series of thoughts that are delusional in nature, yet pose no real threat in reality. When someone experiencing fear asks someone around them if they’re going through the same thing, and the answers don’t match up, that is a clear sign of paranoia unfolding.

With marijuana-related paranoia, these are some very common thoughts that you might encounter:

  • “Was what I said just stupid? I bet this group of people thinks I’m stupid.”
  • “Where are those sirens coming from? They’re probably coming for me here.”
  • “This person keeps looking at me weird. Maybe they think I’m strange or maybe they want to hurt me.”
  • “Is this individual following me?”
  • “What was that noise? What was that thing I just saw?”

Although these are just a few examples, paranoid thoughts typically fall under a few different categories amongst cannabis consumers: feeling targeted, feeling mistrust/suspicion/anxiety, and feeling as if those who are around you want to do harm to you.

Paranoid thoughts while high can be really quite scary and feel immensely real, but once the high has faded, the thoughts themselves once revisited can actually become quite humorous. Some amount of paranoia amongst sober, non pot smoking individuals is normal, and it is in fact reported by at least half of the general population. However, weed does of course have a tendency to enhance the normal quantity of this experience.

Contributing Factors:

With cannabis-specific paranoia, there are usually a few related contributing factors that determine whether or not someone has a likely chance of experiencing this uncomfortable form of anxiety while high.

First and foremost, it heavily depends upon the strain type, as some strains are more notorious for causing paranoia and increased anxiety. However, it’s generally easy to find out about particular strains simply by researching them online before trying them out. A few strains that have a reputation for causing paranoia and fear amongst sensitive individuals (or inexperienced users) include Green Crack, Jack Herer, Trainwreck and OCD, among many others. If you know you’re the type of person to get anxious or freaked out while smoking, it might be wise to steer clear of these types.

Another contributing factor to weed-induced paranoia is individual body chemistry and makeup. Since every human is unique in their own way, so is the manner in which they will react to every substance. For some, an especially potent cannabis type will do no harm, only generating good vibes and whatever medical healing is desired. Meanwhile, a different person, even though they might consume the same strain, could start freaking out and wondering when in the world the high will wear off so they can feel normal again. This is purely brain chemistry and the way in which certain cannabinoids interact with each individual’s brain.

THC content also plays a role, because while some are sensitive to certain strains (sometimes even those without crazy THC contents), it is more likely for an individual to have a negative experience when this cannabinoid is heavily present, and/or consumed in large doses. For this reason, it is often mentioned that those with less experience or those who are sensitive, should start slow and build from there, as to be sure not to have a bad experience.

Lastly, speaking from experience, the regularity of your cannabis smoking can have a lot to do with paranoia and anxiety. Those regular smokers who have built up some tolerance will largely know what to expect when consuming potent weed, so the changes in sensory aspects and so on do not freak them out or startle them nearly as much. Additionally, it takes a lot more THC and herb to get them high, which means milder and milder effects with successively larger doses.

Overall, the relationship and connection between cannabis and paranoia is quite complex and challenging to make sense of, but it seems that an individualistic chemical process is at the core of the situation when this unpleasant circumstance arises.

Marijuana and Its Connection to Paranoia:

It is not completely understood how paranoia, increased anxiety and cannabis are connected, but some research studies have suggested a link between THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and the more emotional parts of the brain, where cannabinoid receptors were discovered in the amygdala (a portion that regulates anxiety and fear). THC has a tendency to cause these regions of the brain to go into fight or flight mode, otherwise known as a high alert mode, which in turn can cause seemingly harmless occurrences to be perceived as dangerous or threatening – hence paranoia or increased anxiety.

Interestingly enough, for other people the same strain could actually decrease anxiety, which is where all of this gets a bit more complex and confusing. At the end of the day it really depends on an individual’s unique body/mind makeup, in addition to the percentage of THC present in the strain or product that’s being ingested.

Alternative Options:

Due to the fact that certain cannabinoids are related to an increase in paranoia, while others help to actually counteract this anxiety, if you are an individual that is prone to experiencing paranoia while high, do not fret – there are still options for you.

CBD, for instance, is considered one of the cannabinoids that helps with anxiety and paranoia, especially when it has been induced through excessive THC consumption. For this reason, a blend either with both of these two components present in balanced amounts (i.e. a 1:1 THC to CBD ratio) or a mostly CBD strain can serve as an alternative and a way to combat cannabis-tied paranoia, while still being incredibly medicinal. Certain strains exist on the market that are higher in CBD than others (such as Charlottes Web, ACDC, etc), while some have been bred to contain almost no THC.

Here are a few options you might want to try if you’d like to avoid pot-induced paranoia:

  • Sweet and Sour Widow: This is an indica strain with a 1:1 THC and CBD ratio, and it is an ideal option for marijuana consumers that do not want to risk becoming paranoid, yet still would like to experience some of the psychoactive effects of cannabis.
  • Ringo’s Gift: A well balanced hybrid with a 24:1 CBD/THC ratio, this strain has ultimately very little THC, yet plenty of medicinal CBD, which makes it pack the medical punch without the extra added-in psychoactive effects. Perfect for consumers who want the medicinal aspects of cannabis, but don’t want their herb to alter their day-to-day functioning.
  • Harlequin: With THC levels usually around 7-15% and CBD levels around 4-10%, this marijuana strain leans a bit more towards the THC and psychoactive qualities, but it runs little risk of producing paranoid thoughts given that CBD is still present in fairly high quantities (which balance out the cerebral psychoactive effects).

Final Thoughts:

If you’ve ever wondered why weed causes some people to have paranoia, then hopefully some of your questions have been answered with our article. The bottom line is this: if you never want to experience paranoia again while high on cannabis, you’ll likely have to stay away from certain strains that are especially heavy in THC, and instead turn towards options with a more balance cannabinoid content, preferably ones that include high quantities of CBD.

We hope you not only found this read to be entertaining, but also educational and informative. It is important to remember that the consumption of marijuana is the sole responsibility of the user, and discretion should always be taken.