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Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last few decades, you’ve heard the common concern that cannabis use can cause anxiety and paranoia. What many don’t understand is that that paranoia is merely a side-effect of overstimulation from strains that, in the illegal market, prioritized the psychoactive effects created by a bud with high levels of THC. As medical marijuana production and research has grown, so have the number of strains bred to emphasize another common cannabinoid: CBD, which doesn’t have the same psychoactive effects and can even temper the side effects that come with smoking a little too much.

THC? CBD? Endocannabinoids? Cannabinoids? These acronyms and terms have been flying around more frequently as more people are starting to utilize weed as medicine for a slew of ailments, as has been done historically in a variety of cultures. The endocannabinoid system is the key to that therapeutic effect and describes a series of receptors and the endocannabinoids and cannabinoids that bind to them. The endocannabinoid system is complex, and one we’re still trying to understand, but we do know this: it moderates communication between cells, which is why balances and imbalances in the system can affect things like pain, stress, anxiety, and other issues that people are now using cannabis to help mediate.

Endocannabinoids are the compounds naturally produced by the human body to interact with this system, and cannabinoids are the compounds that mimic them, which can be found outside the body. Cannabis contains at least 85 different cannabinoids, many of which are still a mystery to researchers. THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, and CBD, cannabinol, are the most common and the most famous. While many researchers believe that THC is beneficial to health and is an important part of the theorized entourage effect that many believe is integral to cannabis as a medicine, it is also known to be the main source of the psychoactive effect of cannabis and is believed to be the cause of anxiety and paranoia in people who ingest more than their system can handle. CBD, on the other hand, is described by some as a “dimmer switch” that blocks some receptors and helps moderate the endocannabinoid system’s absorption of compounds.

Though there isn’t much research on the subject due to cannabis’ Schedule I classification, anecdotal evidence seems to point to CBD helping counteract the negative effects of THC, especially if you smoke too much. Many people report feeling “too high” after consuming, which can feel like dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, paranoia, or other negative effects, and have said that consuming a high-CBD strain or a CBD-only product like capsules or oil helps clear up the unpleasant feeling faster.

Next time you’re feeling too high or anxious after smoking or otherwise consuming weed, reach for a strain that has equal amounts of THC and CBD, or a higher ratio of CBD to THC, or a CBD oil or pill; they might help.

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