Can Medical Marijuana Help Depression and Anxiety? ✌️



  • Studies are inconclusive on whether marijuana use helps or hurts those with anxiety and depression. Some studies show improvement with few side effects.  Other studies show a worsening of symptoms.
  • There is a lack of studies about the effects of marijuana on anxiety and depressive disorders.
  • Medical marijuana can improve quality of life in those with pain and seizure disorders.
  • A 2017 study at Colorado State University finds an association between weed smoking and anxiety and depressive symptoms. However, it is not known if the association is causal or if those prone to depressive symptoms are self-medicating with marijuana.
  • A 2015 study at The University of Buffalo found a positive effect of marijuana on symptoms of anxiety and depression in people who had depressive symptoms from experiencing chronic stressful situations like war or abuse.
  • Strains with mid-range to higher levels of THC may be more suitable for depression without anxiety. Most strains with an average level of THC may be useful for depression.  Depression complicated also by anxiety symptoms may respond better to lower THC levels.
  • Strains with higher levels of CBD and lower levels of THC may be more effective for depression. Harlequin, CBD OG Kush, CBD Medihaze, and Cannatonic are examples.
  • Smoking or ingesting marijuana can set off panic attacks in some people. It is important that users prone to anxiety attacks choose a low THC, high CBD strain to avoid this complication.
  • Smoking or ingesting weed can set off paranoia and anxiety in some users.
  • Some studies show a link between using marijuana starting in childhood and an increase in psychotic disorders which may include auditory or visual hallucinations and delusions.
  • You can get marijuana to use for depression in states that have full legalization such as Alaska, Oregon, California, Colorado, Washington, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine.

Not a lot has been written about medical marijuana anxiety depression.  Can one use weed for depression and anxiety?  There are also not a lot of clinical studies on the question can smoking weed help depression?  Many weed smokers with depression have made the claim weed helps my depression.  So, we will examine this claim and check out the pros and cons of smoking weed for depression and anxiety.  There are some claims that pot may cause depression; however, medical cannabis depression does not appear to be spreading as medicinal marihuana is becoming more available.  Prescribed cannabis without a doubt has power as a treatment for pain symptoms.  Cannabis for anxiety and depression has both great potential benefits and some possible risks and consequences.

  Effects of Marijuana on Blood Pressure and Hypertension

Can Smoking Weed Help Depression?

A study done at Colorado State University (2017) found that there may be an association between anxiety, depression, and the use of recreational marijuana.  However, it’s not possible to tell if people prone to mood disorders are self-medicating, or if in fact, the use of marijuana may increase the risk of anxiety and depression.

In 2015, the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute found that marijuana may help those suffering depression as a result of persistent stressful experiences.  This may include people who have experienced abuse or war trauma.

These two studies epitomize the problem of lack of studies on whether weed, thc, or cbd is helping to treat depression and anxiety or if users merely think it treats depression when in fact it may cause more strain and problems.

A deeper analysis of the studies suggest that by treating chronic stress and chronic pain, the right strain of weed can improve depressive symptoms.  Strains which are high in the citrusy terpene called limonene, often with sufficient Sativa genetics, are said to cause an elevation of mood through aromatherapy.  Some strains with this property are the popular Pineapple Express and the Jack Herer strain.  These strains create more euphoria and less fatigue and couch lock.  These strains may also improve energy and creativity.

Cannabis and Anxiety

Figure 2.

Cannabis For Anxiety

There are also strains which are better for anxiety.  These are generally Indica strains which contain higher amounts of CBD and lower or mid-range amounts of THC.  Harlequin is a Sativa but may have as much as 16% CBD and 7% THC.  This is great for relief of pain caused by inflammation as well as to quell anxiety.  High THC strains can sometimes cause anxiety and paranoia, but CBD can reduce this effect and cause a sense of relaxation and peace.  The Cola Cove in Tigard, Oregon and other dispensaries in full legalization states sale this strain for an affordable price.

Marijuana with low to mid-range THC and high CBD is known to calm the nerves.  It is even used as an anticonvulsant for children with certain types of seizure disorders.  While high THC strains may exacerbate anxiety, the low THC mellow types like the Harlequin strain may cause a temporary rise in pulse, then a long period of mellow relaxation.

  The active ingredients of cannabis
Best Strains for Anxiety
Strain Description
1.        CBD Medihaze  Medihaze has a ratio of CBD to THC of 1:1, and has about 9 percent each.
2.       CBD OG Kush This hybrid of the famous OG Kush has 5 to 10 percent of both THC and CBD.
3.       CBD Critical Cure Critical cure has about a 2:1 ratio of CBD to THC, being about 11 percent CBD and 5 percent THC.
4.       Harlequin Harlequin is one of the most widely used strains for anxiety.  It has about a 5:2 ratio of CBD to THC.  It is composed of as much as 15 percent CBD and about 6 percent THC.
5.       Stephen Hawking Kush Named after the famed astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking Kush has about a 1 to 1 ratio of CBD to THC, each comprising 5 percent of the plant.
6.       Cannatonic Cannatonic has a ratio of 2 to 1 CBD to THC.  It is about 17 percent CBD and about 6 percent THC.

Relaxing marijuana strains can also be used to treat insomnia associated with anxiety.  Many weed strains are known to cause couchlock and put the user right to sleep.  Getting sufficient sleep in return will help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression, helping you start your day off fresh.

Risks and Warnings

Increased Anxiety, Paranoia, Psychosis, or Panic Attacks

Though there are many health benefits to using medicinal marijuana, there are also risks.  The biggest risk to using marijuana to treat anxiety is that it may increase anxiety.  Researchers at Vanderbilt University have discovered cannabinoid receptors in the amygdala of mice.  The amygdala regulates fight or flight or fear responses.  This may explain why marijuana may increase anxiety in some people, while it may calm others.

Some users experience increased paranoia from using marijuana.  They may become paranoid of sounds they hear or the perceptual disturbance caused by the drug may cause them to believe that others are staring at them or plotting something to cause them harm.

Figure 3.

One of the most cited risks of smoking marijuana is that some people experience panic attacks during use.  A panic attack is a sudden sense of a wave of fear and doom that may overwhelm the person and cause them to avoid things they believe to trigger their panic.  Some people have this experience while smoking marijuana and may suddenly begin behaving strangely.

  A short history of medicinal cannabis

The most controversial and troubling possible link is between marijuana use and psychosis.  Psychosis is when a person hears and sees things which are not there, as happens in patients with schizophrenia or during a bipolar psychosis.  Some studies have shown that those who use marijuana starting in childhood, are at greater risk of developing psychotic disorders.  However, it’s not known if the association is causal.  It may be that marijuana is causing the increase in psychotic symptoms, or it may be that people who are already manifesting psychotic symptoms may attempt to self-medicate by smoking marijuana.  In any case, marijuana for this reason is not considered safe for children unless it is used to treat a disorder like intractable seizures.

Figure 4.

How Can I Get Marijuana for Depression in the US?

There are 8 states which have full marijuana legalization.  In order to use it to treat depression, all you need to do is find a strain which is therapeutic then get the advice from a medical professional about dosages and means of ingestion which may help with anxiety and depression.  If one does not already smoke drugs of any kind, it is advisable to begin with edibles bought from a professional manufacturer showing the CBD and THC content clearly.  The full legalization states are:

  1. Washington
  2. Oregon
  3. Nevada
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Maine
  6. Colorado
  7. California
  8. Alaska

Many other states legalize some forms of marijuana for specific conditions.  29 states legalize medical marijuana.  In many states, you will have to get a Medical Marijuana ID in order to purchase medical marijuana.  You will have to have a doctor’s recommendation to apply for the ID.  Most states have a limited number of conditions for which a doctor can make the recommendation.  The more liberal states listed above are the states where you are more likely to be able to get a doctor’s advice or recommendation on using marijuana for depression or anxiety.

In the end, we have observed that marijuana helps some people with depression and anxiety, and for others it does nothing or worsens symptoms.  So, one may simply have to try it, with a doctor’s advice if available, to see if it helps symptoms or not.  No antidepressant on the market works for everyone, and it’s the same way with marijuana.

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