We have been subjected to so much positive spin about cannabis in recent years that it is hard for many people to imagine anything negative about using the plant as a drug. But no plant, whether used medicinally or recreationally, is without its negative side effects. And in some people, anxiety and paranoia are real side effects of using cannabis.
Cannabis itself is not a drug. It is a plant. Certain compounds in the plant constitute the drugs in question. THC is the one most people are familiar with. It is the cannabinoid that causes pot’s high feeling. CBD is another well-known cannabinoid. Though it doesn’t make users high, it does have medicinal benefits.
The interesting thing about most cannabinoids is that they are biphasic. What does that mean? It means that they can produce opposite reactions among different users. The same properties that allow THC to create euphoric feelings in some users can lead to anxiety and paranoia in other people.
THC and Cannabinoid Receptors
The people behind the Beehive Farmacy, a medical cannabis pharmacy in Brigham City, UT, explain that THC achieves its effects on the body by binding to cannabinoid receptors within the central nervous system. When this happens, the brain is stimulated to increase production of dopamine, serotonin, and GABA. All three substances are neurotransmitters that affect everything from mood to cognition.
In most people, the increased neurotransmitters lead to feelings of euphoria. In other words, people get high. Dopamine increases euphoria while serotonin and GABA reduce both alertness and anxiety. Again, all of this is what we would expect in most cannabis users.
However, some users react in just the opposite way. Excess dopamine may still create that high feeling, but the reaction to serotonin and GABA is in the other direction. Rather than being calm, they end up being more anxious. If serotonin and GABA levels get high enough, that anxiety can turn into paranoia.
Human Beings Are Complex
Does any of this matter in the grand scheme of things? After all, haven’t people been using cannabis for millennia without serious side effects? The latter point is true. Cannabis has historically been a pretty safe drug. But its nature as a biphasic drug is still important to note.
The fact of the matter is that people react to cannabis differently. Pushing medical or recreational cannabis as being completely harmless and with no negative side effects is irresponsible. It is also an outright lie. The legalization agenda is not so important that the truth should be withheld from people.
The same goes for the medical cannabis agenda. To believe some cannabis proponents, THC and CBD can cure just about anything. We know that’s not true. We also know that, just like people have different reactions to THC, they will respond differently to medical cannabis.
Not Right for Everyone
Beehive Farmacy recognizes that medical cannabis is not right for everyone. They also say that most medical advocates in the state recognize as much and have no trouble making it known. Advocates routinely recommend that patients start slowly and go from there, working with their pharmacists to figure out the best dosage and delivery methods.
Not everyone who attempts to use cannabis as a medicine will find success with it. Likewise, there are some recreational users who ultimately discover that they don’t like marijuana at all. Some of them may suffer from anxiety and paranoia, two very real side effects of a drug that we do not know as much about as we think. Let that be a warning if you are new to cannabis.