Ask Old Hippie: Can Smoking Weed Cause Paranoia or Anxiety?

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Q: I’ve noticed that smoking high THC strains seems to cause anxiety or paranoia. Is this normal?

A: Yes, this is quite common. Unfortunately CBD, a natural component of cannabis that has anti-anxiety effects, has been bred out of most recreational strains, and many recreational users chase the “ultimate high”, so we will see more reports of such problems as more places legalize. That’s because people will blame “the pot” rather than the fools using it. Here are some simple remedies:

  1. Smoke less, FFS.
  2. Have some fresh black peppercorns around (they’re full of beta-caryophyllene). When someone starts freaking out, grind some and let them sniff (not inhale or snort) the ground pepper.
  3. Use only true indica strains, or ones with at least 5% CBD content.

(from a conversation on LinkedIn)

Old Hippie is a father of two boys and thankfully living in California where all this kind of thing is legal. He started smoking marijuana in 1967 in high school, experimented with mind-expanding drugs of all kinds, and then straightened out 15 or so years later to become an airplane pilot. After being diagnosed with depression in 2000, he lost his job and most of the following decade to prescription medications (such as antidepressants) which sapped his energy and will. Finally, a chance conversation with a friend led to a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana (MMJ). This changed his entire life, health, and outlook for the better. is his continuing story. It’s also his way to provide experienced advice on using medical marijuana effectively and responsibly, as well as advocacy, activism, and support for others. Old Hippie teaches about safe use of cannabis edibles, Canna Caps, vaporizers, dosing, and even microdosing.


Thanks Old Hippie…
I have been trying to find strains that would be less anxiety producing. Could you recommend/name some? With the 5% CBD content.
Thanks in advance,

Dear Sarah,

Well, first I must remind you that strain names are not as important as the actual tested content of the plant. For instance, I’ve gotten cannabis under the name AC/DC — several months apart, from the same dispensary! — that was 50:50 THC:CBD, and then 5:1 CBD:THC. Both have proved to be useful in their own way, but still I think that shows that you can’t go by name alone.

But since you asked, we’ve successfully used Cannatonic, AC/DC, Harlequin, Omrita, Trident, and probably a few others. You can generally find names of high CBD strains on Leafly or Project CBD. Weedmaps used to let you look up strains so you could easily find them at dispensaries, but they may be more about money than helping now…pity. Hope that helps!

i musta forgot to hit send. Thought it could read my mind.
Thank you for this info! It’s a question I have had…Great suggestions.
Thanks again…..
Sarah…..I don’t know about the 5% CBD, but Harlequin and AC/DC are lower in THC and less prone to cause anxiety. Higher than most in limonene. I’m lookin’ for myrcene too. I hope you get your answer: I’m interested, too. AT a collective, one doesn’t name strains like the some dispensaries. But if you can name a strain, they can usually, if not always, find something comparable. That’s my experience in CA. I’ve been nudged to grow 2 plants w/ a neighbor: one for day some days and a strain for occasional sleeplessness.
Prefer outside, alas, no sun in my yard. It will be organic. hahaha…and that’s all I know.
Fyi….I know very little about growing. It’s a plant…..and I’m good w/ plants. So, I’m going to pretend. 🙂

There is so much information about growing on the web and if you are good w/plants I bet you will be fine. I’m growing on my balcony here in DC where it is now legal to do so. Amazing and fun and challenging. Mine have needed a lot of attention and they are doing really well. So far my neighbors have not complained. We are getting into the stinky time and near harvest. I am not sure of one of the plants I am growing as it is from a “mystery” seed. I will try and get some seeds for next year that are known to have less THC and more CBD. In the meantime I will try and find someone who can “donate’ some to me that might less anxiety producing. I do not yet have my medical card so I am relying on other citizens, such as myself, to help me out! Crazy laws we have here. Looking forward to legalization some day nation wide. Good luck with your growing!

After some research, I think i’ll wait until 2016 summer….
I don’t have a clue what I’m doing…best not to waste my time . chuckle”
whew…that was close.

More reading…

HELP…..I smoked like 3 tokes like a week and a half ago and have to pass urine test on Wednesday…. I was told to drink vinegar so I did and well I can’t do that again and from reading what you have posted it will not help any way:/ so what can I do to make sure I am 5*2 and 150 lb….I have to pass this for out patient and im wicked scared I don’t usually smoke so I need to know…..

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