Updated on December 7, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Like other medicines, medical cannabis does have potential side effects. While every patient’s experience using medical weed is different, some users may have feelings of paranoia after taking it. The good news is that we understand what causes this side effect, so you and your doctor can make changes to your treatment to prevent future episodes of paranoia.
Aside from paranoia, medical cannabis can cause additional side effects. However, some of them, such as drowsiness and hunger, can be beneficial for some patients. Someone suffering from insomnia, for instance, may use medical weed before bed to help them fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.
For most patients, as well as recommending physicians, medical marijuana’s benefits outweigh its side effects. Every patient’s response to medical pot is different, though, which is why it’s crucial that you continue to meet with your medical cannabis doctor to discuss any side effects, as well as potential modifications to your treatment plan.
Through research, scientists found the interaction of cannabinoids with our brain’s chemistry can cause paranoia. The cannabinoid most often associated with paranoia is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which binds with receptors on your amygdala, the part of your brain that’s in charge of paranoia, stress and fear.
For some patients, this binding doesn’t create paranoia. For others, the connection makes their neural pathways too excited, which then leads to paranoid thoughts, actions and feelings. A 2015 study found that a higher concentration of THC in medical weed, rather than cannabidiol (CBD), increased the chance of paranoia.
Paranoia is defined as, “suspicion and mistrust of people or their actions without evidence or justification.”
Its symptoms include:
For many patients, experiencing paranoia can be disconcerting, which is why it’s essential for your medical cannabis physician to review the potential side effects of medical weed before you begin treatment. Also consider asking your doctor what you should do if you experience specific symptoms.
Like many other side effects of medical pot, feelings of paranoia dissipate as your medication wears off. It doesn’t cause long-term side effects, but it can lead to repercussions if you take irrational action while feeling paranoid. Patients, for instance, may make hurtful claims against loved ones during an episode because they’re feeling mistrustful of others.
One of the unfortunate aspects of medical cannabis-induced paranoia is that it doesn’t always occur. You could use your medication several times before ever experiencing a paranoia episode. To prevent paranoia, there are several techniques:
If you experience feelings of paranoia, having a family member there is helpful. They can monitor your symptoms and keep you calm until the episode ends. Afterward, it’s critical to contact your medical cannabis physician.
While many patients find the benefits of medical weed outweigh the potential side effects, everyone is different. That’s why it’s essential for you and your family to work one-on-one with your dispensary staff and medical marijuana doctor to find the dosage, strain and administration method that works best for you.