Smoking marijuana seems to have, for many, polarizing effects: either it totally chills you out and lets you forget about day-to-day stresses and hangups, or it intensifies all your worst insecurities, magnifying whatever's bugging you and ratcheting up social awkwardness (or, god forbid, existential dread) to paranoid levels.
For this reason, for many naturally anxious people, smoking pot can be either a godsend, or a completely terrible idea. Which is it gonna be? Here are three things to consider in determining whether cannabis can help you feel better.
The more exposure you have to the plant, the more you know what to expect from the high - and the more adept you probably are at talking yourself down if you accidentally consume too much. According to animal studies cited in Leaf Science, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, THC, only starts to raise anxiety levels "after a certain threshold is passed."
"Although it's hard to predict what your threshold might be, people who use cannabis frequently tend to have a higher threshold. This is because of the desensitization to marijuana, or tolerance, that develops."
In the past, cannabis connoisseurs considered a percentage of high THC the hallmark of "good" weed. As we learn more about the plant's chemical composition, there's an increasing recognition of the medical uses of high-CBD, lower-THC strains like Charlotte's Web and CBD Shark. In addition to anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea effects, "it's evident the chemical compound cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is the main ingredient to treat anxiety," according to Anxiety Social Net, which adds that THC can actually ramp up, rather than quell, feelings of panic and stress.
3. Health history
If you're prone to bouts of anxiety and depression, marijuana can exacerbate your preexisting conditions. In an article titled Mental Health and Marijuana, The University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute states that for some people, "marijuana can lead to symptoms of anxiety, such as panic, in the short-term, but there is a lack of evidence pointing to marijuana as an important risk factor for chronic anxiety disorders...again, if someone has a genetic vulnerability or has an existing mental health issue, marijuana should be avoided."