The Real Reason Marijuana Can Make You Paranoid

Although marijuana is known for its ability to induce relaxation and relieve anxiety, it's not uncommon for some people to experience paranoia shortly after ingesting it. This is largely due to the way delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) affects your endocannabinoid system (via Bustle). THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that gets you high. It binds to the endocannabinoid receptors in multiple parts of your brain, including the amygdala, which is responsible for regulating your response to fear, stress, and paranoia.

While THC's impact on the amygdala can sometimes reduce these emotions, research has shown that ingesting cannabis with high concentrations of THC can actually increase feelings of paranoia and anxiety (via Refinery29). Furthermore, if you're already feeling anxious or worried, THC can sometimes enhance these emotions and negative thoughts. "Negative emotions leave us feeling down and vulnerable. Worry leads us to the worst conclusions," Dr. Daniel Freeman, a professor at the University of Oxford, wrote in The Guardian. "So when we try to make sense of the anomalous experiences — when we try, in other words, to understand what's happening to us — the world can appear a weird, frightening, and hostile place. Hence the paranoia."

How to reduce cannabis-related paranoia

If you're experiencing feelings of anxiety and paranoia after smoking or ingesting cannabis, you can try to reduce or alleviate these symptoms by engaging in some calm and relaxing activities. For instance, you can try to manage your cannabis-related paranoia by breathing through one nostril at a time (via Healthline). This is a deep breathing exercise known as alternate nostril breathing. It can help distract your from your worried and anxious thoughts by redirecting your focus on your breathing. You can do this by holding one nostril closed while slowly breathing in and out with the other.

Smelling pepper can also help with your paranoia, believe it or not. That's because the terpenes in black pepper have a similar chemical structure to the cannabinoids in marijuana. As a result, sniffing fresh peppercorns might be able to help counteract the effects of ingesting too much THC. If that doesn't work, you can always try immersing yourself in a quiet, stress-free environment. If that's not possible, however, you can try wrapping yourself in a blanket, cuddling a pet, calling a friend, or putting on soothing music to help quiet your mind and calm yourself down.