Why Does Marijuana Make You Paranoid – Or Does It?

There is a considerable amount of dialogue on the topic of marijuana in recent years. Part of that is inspired by the legalization of marijuana for both recreational and medical purposes. More states than ever before allow people to purchase and use marijuana for recreational purposes including Colorado, Washington, California and many others. Even the District of Columbia has legalized marijuana for recreational use, prompting many people to start looking at how it could benefit, and also adversely affect, this greater abundance of users. The medicinal qualities of marijuana are well known, including allowing people to sleep better, helping with glaucoma, and is even helpful in fighting cancer. However, there is some talk that marijuana might actually make you feel paranoid. Let’s discuss whether or not this is true, and if it is, why this actually occurs.

What Is Paranoia?

Before discussing whether or not marijuana can make you paranoid, it is beneficial to have a specific definition. A person that is paranoid is experiencing fear or anxiety, so much so that they can become irrational or delusional. It is common for those that are paranoid to think that everyone is out to get them, or at least believe that perceived threats exist without any proof. It is a personality disorder which is associated with people that have schizophrenia, and is even thought to arise from depression.

Does Marijuana Cause Paranoia?

In most cases, marijuana will induce a calming effect. This is one of the main reasons that people will use marijuana on a regular basis. It allows them to relax after a hard day at work, and can even improve their overall mood. However, it has been shown to affect people differently, causing them to actually become paranoid. This has to do with the chemical reaction that cannabinoids have been the human brain, such as THC, when they actually bind with certain receptors. In some cases, these receptors are located on the amygdala, a portion of the brain that actually causes us to fear things that are out of our control. It is able to affect our level of motivation, and also our emotions, especially when something connects with its receptors. Although it is not known why, with some people, cannabinoids such as THC which can cause a euphoric high, can cause some people to become paranoid. There emotions are heightened, and the reason they become paranoid is typically because the amygdala is simply heightening thoughts and feelings that they have already had. Therefore, when the receptors of the amygdala are activated by the cannabinoids, it will simply heighten your emotions. In some cases, if a person’s emotions are directly connected to thoughts of paranoia that they experience on a regular basis, it is possible that feelings of paranoia will be heightened.

Although experiencing paranoia after smoking marijuana is not the norm, it can definitely happen to people that already have some type of your rational fear. It simply comes down to chemistry and how different portions of the brain, in this case the amygdala, affect your emotions. The marijuana itself, nor any of the cannabinoids, actually induce paranoia at all. The person that becomes more paranoid after smoking marijuana is simply experiencing a heightened sense of what they already feel on a regular basis.