Does Weed Help With Anxiety? Relief & Benefits -

Does Weed Help With Anxiety? Relief & Benefits

This post is part of our Best Dispensary in San Diego series, sponsored by Cannabist.

Money woes. Relationship conflicts. Work stress. Struggling to stay cool in the pressure cooker of modern-day life. These and other triggers can manifest into a real mental health condition, known as anxiety.  While experiencing anxiety at some point in our lives is inevitable – if it becomes chronic or left untreated, it can explode into disastrous results.  Thankfully, anxiety doesn’t have to plague your happiness or general well-being.  We’re talking about using cannabis as a solution for managing anxiety in a natural way.  But does weed help with anxiety? And if so, how does weed affect anxiety?  To answer these questions, we consulted the experts to provide you these insights about how weed can be a tremendous asset in coping with and managing anxiety.   


Did you know 40+ million Americans wrestle with some type of anxiety disorder?  In light of that staggering statistic from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, it’s clear an overwhelming segment of our society is grappling with this nerve-wracking condition.  Although it might be tempting to just shrug it off, the reality is that anxiety left to run rampant can kick up a slew of health-compromising conditions.  Illness, high blood pressure, heart problems, and severe depression are just a few health compromises that can result from anxiety.  If you are one of the millions seeking relief from anxiety, you might wonder, does weed help with anxiety?  Let’s take a deeper look at that inquiry and explore how weed might just provide a hopeful ray of light if you’re floundering in an abyss of anxiety.  

How Does Weed Help With Anxiety?

We’re all familiar with weed-culture films featuring goofball characters acting silly or just zoning out after taking a toke of some sweet herb.   While some of these movies might be hilarious – anxiety is nothing to laugh at.  In reality, cannabis products have the potential to kick stress in the pants, and that’s something that begs closer investigation.

So how does weed help with anxiety? Buckle up for some science: Weed interacts with our endocannabinoid system, which regulates various body processes, including mood and stress response. The cannabinoids found in marijuana bind to certain receptors in this system, leading to changes in neurotransmitter activity. Additionally, both THC and CBD exhibit anti-inflammatory properties that could contribute to their overall calming effect on some folks who experience anxiety symptoms.

Does Weed Help With Anxiety Long Term?

While marijuana can provide temporary relief for anxiety symptoms, its long-term effects on anxiety are still not fully understood.  This is mostly because of all the variables involved, such as: Individual reactions to weed, different levels of THC or CBD, and different strains and their effects, to name a few factors.  

Some research suggests that in the short term, cannabis can stop anxiety in its tracks.  However, other studies show that overuse of marijuana may actually increase anxiety in the long run. This could be due to the psychoactive compound THC found in marijuana, which can cause paranoia and heightened anxiety levels. 

On the other side of the coin, anecdotal reports from individuals claim that using marijuana has helped them manage their anxiety over an extended period. These people often report feeling more relaxed and less anxious after consuming cannabis.

So what’s the answer? Does weed help with anxiety long term? Because of the many variables involved and the fact that everybody responds to weed differently – the ultimate proof in the pudding will be in your experience as you sample different types and dosages of marijuana.

Does Weed Help With Anxiety?

Is Smoking The Only Way To Use Weed To Help With Anxiety?

Not at all! You’re not limited to smoking marijuana to help with anxiety.  Hot on the heels of ongoing marijuana legalization follows an impressive array of different ways to consume weed.  To meet growing consumer demands, purveyors have come up with mind-boggling products so people can now use weed without having to smoke it.  Here are a few alternatives to smoking weed that might be more appealing to you: 

Edibles: From cannabis-infused gummies or chocolates to weed cookies and THC-infused beverages – the edible scene for cannabis is off the hook. Edibles are a yummy way to consume marijuana without having to inhale smoke. Just know that edibles usually take longer to kick in than smoking or vaping, but their effects typically last longer.

Creams: When you think of taking weed for anxiety, topical cannabis-infused creams or ointments might not be the first thing that pops into your mind.  Nevertheless, if you grapple with chronic pain – that’s a source of anxiety that CBD creams can really help with. These products are absorbed through the skin to alleviate pain but do not produce psychoactive effects.  

Oils: Specially crafted cannabis oils can be consumed by mouth by placing drops under your tongue or added to foods or beverages. Depending on the type of oil you’re trying, they can provide the soothing mellow sensations you need to quell anxiety.

Vapes: Yes, there is some inhalation of smoke involved with vaping. However, it isn’t as harsh as smoking a joint. Vaping involves heating the cannabis flower or oil to a temp that releases active compounds with less harmful combustible effects than smoke.

Can CBD Be Used To Help With Anxiety?

The short answer is yes.  Unlike THC (the cannabis component that gets you “high”), CBD provides more of a calming, full-body high.  It cuts through anxiety like butter, putting you in a dulcet state of well-rounded relaxation.  

As mentioned earlier, studies suggest that CBD may have anti-anxiety properties by interacting with receptors in the brain and regulating neurotransmitter levels. This could help reduce stress and promote a sense of balmy calmness.

For instance, one study from Drexel University published in 2019 found that participants who received CBD reported reduced levels of anxiety compared to those who received a placebo. Alternatively, the same study showed that low doses of THC were also helpful in staunching anxiety – but high doses of THC actually created the opposite effect – causing subjects to feel more anxious.

Having said all that, the non-psychoactive CBD component might be your best bet for anxiety.  It’s also a good idea to start with low doses of CBD and gradually increase if needed. We also recommend that you consult a healthcare professional before incorporating CBD as a means to reduce anxiety.


Best Strains For Anxiety

There are as many different strains of weed as there are ice cream flavors.  In fact, there are over 700 strains of cannabis at the time of this writing.  Most strains of weed are composed of either sativa or indica (or a mix of both), and we’ll talk more in-depth about that in a minute.  

When you’re looking for the right strain for anxiety, you’ve got to do a little experimentation to see which works for you.  That said, we can report that one popular strain that many people turn to is ACDC. This strain has a high CBD content and minimal psychoactive effects, making it an excellent choice if you’re wanting to alleviate anxiety without feeling overly “high” or sedated.

Another strain worth considering is Harlequin. This has a balanced ratio of CBD to THC and is a sativa-forward strain.  Harlequin provides relaxation without the intense cerebral effects often associated with other strains. It allows users to maintain mental clarity while easing their anxious thoughts.

For those who prefer an indica-dominant hybrid, Granddaddy Purple may be a suitable option. Known for its potent relaxing properties, this strain can help calm both the mind and body, promoting a sense of tranquility and peace.

If you’re looking for a non-intoxicating option that solely focuses on the therapeutic benefits of CBD, Charlotte’s Web is highly regarded within the medical cannabis community. Developed specifically for its anti-anxiety properties, this strain offers gentle relief without any intoxicating effects.

Is Sativa or Indica Better For Anxiety?

The answer here isn’t cut and dry because everybody has a different response to different strains.  However, we can break down the differences between sativa and indica for anxiety to help you make better-informed choices.

Sativa strains are heralded for their elevating, perky properties. They offer up a cerebral, mind-focused high that promotes creativity and improves mood. Sativas may be beneficial for individuals who experience anxiety alongside depression or low energy levels. Alternatively, be aware that certain sativa strains can actually increase feelings of anxiousness or paranoia due to their potent psychoactive effects.

Then we have indica strains.  These are generally associated with relaxation and sedation. Indica tends to have a more fluffy, calming effect on both the body and mind, making them potentially helpful if you need to chill from anxiety-related sleep issues or physical tension. Furthermore, indicas may provide a soothing sensation that can ease racing thoughts and induce a sense of tranquility.

Which Is Better For Anxiety: CBD vs THC

We’ve already talked about what the two main components of cannabis are, but which is better – CBD vs THC for anxiety? If you’re turning to cannabis to squelch anxiety, you should know that not all components of weed are created equal. Namely, the two key compounds found in marijuana – CBD and THC – have different effects on anxiety. Ready for some more science? Here’s the lowdown on the benefits and impact of these two prime cannabinoids:

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the chemical element responsible for the psychoactive effects of weed. It can produce feelings of relaxation but it also packs a bursty boost of elation as it increases dopamine levels in the brain. This can potentially alleviate symptoms of anxiety by promoting a sense of calmness.

Alternatively, CBD (cannabidiol) does not have psychoactive effects but may still impact anxiety through different mechanisms. It interacts with serotonin receptors and which are neurotransmitters linked with mood regulation, which makes it a great potential option for tempting down anxious episodes.

How To Purchase Marijuana

Alright, now we’re rolling.  You’ve done your on-page research, and now you’re ready to try some cool kush or other strains to determine what weed can do for your anxiety levels. So how do you get your hands on the best anxiety-stomping pot? The good news is that weed is becoming increasingly available since recreational use was legalized in 2012.  Currently, 23 states in the US have legalized recreational marijuana.  

If you live in one of these weed-legal states, you can purchase cannabis for anxiety at a dispensary. We adore the Cannabist dispensary in Utah and their other location in San Diego. Why? Because the Cannabist is a 100% professional dispensary offering the highest quality marijuana-derived products you can buy. They put you at immediate ease with their friendly, knowledgeable staff (known as budtenders).  The Cannabist budtenders are non-judgemental and know their weed – big time.  We also love this dispensary for newcomers because of its fresh, clean environment, and it’s a perfect place to explore, ask questions, and shop out the right cannabis products for you.

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If you don’t have the luxury of being close to a Cannabist dispensary – you’re not up a creek.  There are tons of dispensaries around the nation. The key to picking the right dispensary is 1) Make sure it is a licensed dispensary. 2) Confirm the dispensary is a trusted retailer that works with trusted suppliers and sources. 3) Read reviews.  Product quality and professionalism vary wildly in the dispensary realm – so do your homework before going. That way, you can have an A+ experience purchasing weed for anxiety.

What if you live in a state where you can’t purchase weed without a prescription? In that case, you might be able to apply for a medical marijuana card (MMJ).  Currently, there are 38 states in the nation that, according to the Compassionate Care Use Act passed in 1996, allow you to purchase weed with an MMJ card if you have a condition(s) that qualifies.  Some states have approved medical cannabis for treating anxiety – you’ll need to check with your state cannabis laws to confirm.

Key Takeaways On Weed And Anxiety

As we start to wrap up our foray into probing the question, does weed help with anxiety – we hope we’ve addressed all your curiosities.  But for the sake of giving you a well-rounded lowdown, here are some takeaway points regarding how weed can help with anxiety:

  • Weed has two major components – THC and CBD.  The THC part produces that sensation of feeling high or stoned, whereas the CBD factor delivers a fluid, full-body vibe that can make you feel chilled out and relaxed.
  • Both THC and CBD can help with anxiety. However, pay attention to dosages. In elevated and long-term doses, THC can potentially exacerbate anxiety, whereas low doses and CBD-centric products can promote serenity.
  • Different strains of weed can result in different effects on anxiety.  Indica might be better for anxiety because it puts you in a mellow zone. Alternatively, sativa provides a more energetic and “switched on” vibe, as it stimulates the mind – something that might backfire for some people with anxiety – but it might work for you.
  • Experimenting with different dosages, strains, and THC/CBD content is key in nailing which type of weed works to slake your anxiety issues.
  • You’re not limited to smoking a joint to alleviate anxiety. There are loads of other ways to consume, including edibles, oils, or vapes.

Although the use of weed for anxiety is a topic that continues to be widely debated, it is still a viable solution if you are seeking natural relief.  Just bear in mind that weed can have varying effects on different people, and what works for somebody else may not work for you. It’s also a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider before incorporating it into your anxiety management plan.  All that said, we hope this in-depth look at how weed can help with anxiety sheds new light on alternative solutions to help you shoo away the anxiety blues and get into a smooth mood for your best mental well-being.