How Does Smoking Weed Help Anxiety?

If you're new to cannabis, you may be wondering how smoking weed helps anxiety. For thousands of years, cultures from all over the world have touted the calming and relaxing effects of smoking cannabis flowers, and as a prohibition of the herb wanes, we're starting to understand the science behind how smoking weed helps anxiety. However, we must always remember that everyone experiences the effects of cannabis differently, and that other factors (such as the strain composition, the setting, and your present state of mind) play a part in how much smoking weed will help (or exacerbate) your anxiety. 

It's also important to distinguish between sudden feelings of anxiousness and chronic anxiety disorders when you want to use cannabis to help with your symptoms, as cannabis may affect you differently under varying circumstances. The American Psychology Association defines anxiety as "an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure," but these feelings can come on in different situations for different people. So, if you've ever asked yourself “how does smoking weed help anxiety?” you've come to the right place, for here we list a few ways that science has shown how consuming cannabis helps ease feelings of anxiety.

cannabis for anxieties

1. We know that cannabis exhibits natural anti-anxiety properties, particularly the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) and certain terpenes found in marijuana, such as linalool, myrcene, and terpinolene.

2. A 2014 international study led by Vanderbilt University found that smoking weed increases the production rate of endocannabinoids in the amygdala area of the brain in mice. This is the area of the brain that regulates anxiety, emotions, and our “fight-or-flight” response, and researchers often see a decrease in the production of endocannabinoids in patients suffering from chronic stress or anxiety disorders.

3. Cannabis can help people get off of prescription drugs. In a 2016 Canadian study, medical marijuana was found to help 40% of the subjects to stop using benzodiazepines (a common anti-anxiety drug with many undesirable side effects).

4. Smoking weed has been shown to play a part in memory extinction, the mental phenomenon of forgetting trauma, bad memories, and negative experiences. This has led some to believe that smoking weed can help treat anxiety from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Before Nikki Furrer was a cannabis writer and professional, she had another dream job: owning an independent bookstore. While she says her business venture as a bookseller was ultimately untenable, it did open her eyes to how much she enjoys “matching the reader to the exact book they’re craving.” This zest for matchmaking is evident in her book 'A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis.' As the title suggests, 'A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis' is for women who are curious about cannabis. A more appropriate title, however, might have been a 'A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis.' Though Furrer touches on applications for the plant that are specific to women—relief of menstrual pain or beauty (though her belief that cannabis is a beauty product because it makes you appear more well-rested seems relevant to both men and women—much of the information in the book is relevant to anyone who is totally inexperienced with cannabis, apprehensive about trying it and needs a run down of the basics.

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