When most people think about stoners, they picture the stereotypical "chill dude." And while some stereotypes are baseless, it turns out this one is backed by scientific evidence.

According to a recent study, marijuana was found to be an effective, and safer, alternative for treating anxiety than traditional meds. The experiment involved measuring the amount of cortisol, a hormone that determines a person's stress levels, in a person's saliva. The scientists studied a group of daily marijuana users and a group of non-users, and found that the regular users displayed more blunted reactions when exposed to acute stress.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the effects of acute stress on salivary cortisol levels in chronic cannabis users compared to non-users,” said Carrie Cuttler, a clinical assistant professor of psychology and one of the study's co-authors. “While we are not at a point where we are comfortable saying whether this muted stress response is a good thing or a bad thing, our work is an important first step in investigating potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis at a time when its use is spreading faster than ever before.”

This study is consistent with other studies showing marijuana has a distinct effect on a neurotransmitter related to stress. Research shows that chemical compounds in marijuana, mainly cannabidiol enhances the effects of the GABA transmitter, which is responsible for producing chemicals that can calm down the body when it enters an excited state. The GABA transmitter is what most anti-anxiety meds affect to produce their results. 

Anti-anxiety medications have a variety of serious side effects that marijuana does not. Benzodiazepines, the most common type of anti-anxiety med, are easy to develop a tolerance to. So patients need to take more and more in order to get even a limited effect. This also makes chemical dependency very easy when using benzodiazepines. Anti-anxiety meds also produce fatigue, disorientation and mental fogginess, and are also responsible for thousands of overdose deaths in the United States every year.

This is where I point out how marijuana has none of those side effects, is far safer, and yet is illegal under U.S. law, but that should be pretty obvious by now.