Medical Marijuana for Anxiety: Is It a Good Idea?


Anxiety disorders, much like other mental illnesses, are difficult to treat. With triggers and symptoms specific to the individual’s personal experiences, some treatments don’t work as well on them as they do on others.

The recent legalization of medical marijuana in different states across the country has raised the question of its effectiveness in treating mental illnesses. However, there is a debate on how it affects people with anxiety disorders.

What is Medical Marijuana?

Cannabis sativa, more commonly known as marijuana, is a plant with over 120 active ingredients and compounds. Two of these are cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

  • THC is a psychoactive compound that gives the “high” people often associate with the plant.
  • CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that gives the plant its medicinal properties for therapeutic purposes.

The Use of CBD in Treating Anxiety Disorders

In a study on CBD and its use in anxiety disorders, researchers found that the compound reacts well with the cannabinoid type 1 receptor and the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor, regulating how the brain responds to fear and anxiety.

In their clinical trials, the researchers found that CBD is effective in treating certain types of anxiety disorders, including:

  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Although the research points to marijuana’s effectiveness in treating anxiety disorders, you should still consult with your doctor. They can determine how many doses of CBD is suitable for you. Additionally, they can instruct you on where to get your prescription. Even as some states legalize the plant’s use for medicinal purposes, there are strict cultivation laws you must follow.


How to Use CBD in Treating Anxiety Disorders

Currently, there are no standardized dosing recommendations for medicinal marijuana. Most healthcare professionals make their prescriptions based on their patients’ conditions. For example, a 600-mg dosage of CBD might be effective for one patient but causes another patient to experience unpleasant side effects.

Aside from an individual’s condition and symptoms, the dosage depends on what type of CBD product they use and how often they administer it.

  • Capsules take at least 30 minutes to show any effects.
  • Essential oils take anywhere from half an hour to more than an hour to take effect.
  • Vaporized oils (used through vape pens) often take effect immediately, making them a popular choice for many.
  • Edibles are known to take the longest to show any effects, with some patients saying that it can take as long as two hours before anything happens.

Doctors will ask their patients which products they prefer before making a prescription to calculate the right dosage.

The Risks and Side Effects of CBD

Studies have found that most people can tolerate a CBD dose of 1,500 mg a day. However, much like other medications, this shouldn’t be taken as a generalization. You should still consult with your doctor on the appropriate dosage for your treatment.

When you start using CBD to treat your anxiety disorder, consider looking out for the following side effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in weight
  • Diarrhea

If you experience any of these, stop using your CBD medication and consult your doctor. Tell them about the side effects and determine the next possible step in your treatment.

As the body of research on CBD use continues to grow, more people see the value in using it in treating mental health disorders. If you have tried other treatments and medications for your anxiety disorder, consider broaching this topic with your doctor.

Learning more about medicinal marijuana, from its benefits to its risks, will help you determine whether this new treatment is suitable for you.