Why Do I Get Paranoid When High?

Weed Paranoia With Man Looking Through a Mirror

 Just like that video below, many people feel like someone’s out to get them when they smoke or ingest weed. Though it isn’t common for every single person to feel this way, it can happen for many reasons. Weedgrets is a side effect of smoking or eating weed products that come with what’s known as marijuana paranoia.



And while it doesn’t affect everyone who tries it, it can feel scary, and some people have admitted to feeling sad, suicidal, and other scary emotions. Therefore, being aware of what it is and how you can prevent it may help you avoid falling into that unknown space.


Keep reading to find out:


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The Difference Between Anxiety and Paranoia

Weed Paranoid Man Peeping Through Eyehole

I think it’s important to take a look at the difference between anxiety and paranoia. Anxiety is a typical stress reaction and is defined as a sensation of dread that something unpleasant will happen. However, the term "paranoia" refers to an excessive or unreasonable dread that someone is trying to attack you.

Few scientific studies have attempted to pinpoint the precise reasons why marijuana causes people to feel nervous or paranoid due to cannabis' Schedule I designation as a substance (and additional research obstacles). Leading research supports a few different hypotheses, and it makes sense that THC is a key contributor to the negative effects of cannabis.

A fast heartbeat after ingesting a cannabis-based product may surprise new or infrequent cannabis users. THC is responsible for this action by triggering the "fight or flight” responses in the autonomic nervous system. It's also likely that THC directly binds to heart tissue, causing a faster beating heart.

Feelings of anxiety can frequently accompany a high dose of THC because the brain interprets a rapid heart rate as a "fight or flight" response; however, it is typical for this side effect to lessen with time as people gain tolerance to the effects of THC.

But what’s research say about weed paranoia symptoms? Let’s take a look.

How Weed Causes Paranoia

How Weed Causes Paranoia

Research done by a team back in February this year shows that cannabinoid receptors are released in “high density in areas involved in cognition and behavior.” It also found that in animal models, the exogenous cannabinoids “disrupted the important processes and led to cognitive and behavioral abnormalities.” 

 In human trials, it also showed that THC increased the risk of cognitive impairment. So in some people, it may help to relax the body but in others, the total opposite will happen. 

For instance, cannabis users are more likely to feel that everyone around them is trying to harm them on purpose. It's not clear, though, if cannabis use contributes to or worsens paranoia. All we know for sure is that THC does affect the brain in a potentially negative way if the person ingesting the weed is not in a good condition. 

All in all, they found that: 

  • “Acute intoxication with marijuana affects memory, behavior, and impulsivity.
  • The long-term effect of cannabis on cognition may be domain specific.
  • Neuroimaging studies have shown structural changes in cannabis users; however, the results are inconsistent.
  • Functional changes may be observed in areas of the brain involved in cognition among cannabis users.
  • Early exposure to cannabis may have a negative effect on cognitive function.”
Weed Paranoia Found in Clinical Trials

According to Medical News Today, one of the most thorough research on marijuana and paranoia to date was a 2014 study led by Prof. Daniel Freeman about how cannabis causes paranoia.

The study took 20 participants ages 21-50 who had all at least tried weed once and didn’t present any mental health conditions in their medical history. Thirteen participants were given a dose of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC) equal to a strong joint through injection. The rest were given a placebo. 

The results? 50% of the people given THC reported feeling paranoid! As for those who received a placebo, only 30% mentioned feeling weed paranoia symptoms. The study assured that as THC left the body, so did the paranoic feelings. 

To put it another way, using marijuana can lead to a vicious cycle of negative emotions: first, you feel strange, then strange about feeling strange, and finally, your strangeness leads you to believe that everyone is trying to get you. 

“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.” Dr. Freeman wrote in The Guardian.”

Everyone has unique preferences and tolerances when it comes to marijuana, and that is completely acceptable.

Are some people more vulnerable to weed paranoia symptoms than others?

Two People Smoking Weed At Their House

Only some cannabis users claim to have had paranoid feelings after consuming marijuana. Also, some people only occasionally experience paranoia. How come this is the case? There isn't one specific reason why but here are some things that may influence it: 

THC Tolerance

Everyone is affected differently by THC, the most prevalent psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana. Different people have different levels of THC tolerance. This might be brought on by genetics or repeated use.

THC (and CBD) appear to provide a biphasic effect. This implies that depending on how much you use, you will experience a different response. In the case of THC, there is proof that even modest doses can have medicinal effects. Microdosing is now a common technique as a result of this. However, the risk of a negative effect increases with increased use.

Reminder: It is especially crucial to use caution when consuming edibles that frequently have significant THC concentrations. A user runs the risk of ingesting too much since they don't wait for the effects to kick in because the high is delayed.


A study on cannabis' effects on animals was published in Nature in 2019. The scientists discovered that when the drug primarily engaged the frontal lobe of the brain, it often decreased anxiety and enhanced calm. This, according to the study's authors, is due to the high concentration of opioid receptors in this area of the brain.

There is a bigger chance of a negative reaction if the back of your brain is more sensitive to THC than the front. This may trigger side effects like anxiety and paranoia. 


Even if there is little evidence to support this notion, it's fascinating to look at an animal study from 2014 that was reported in Drug and Alcohol Dependency. Researchers discovered that lower THC tolerance and higher estrogen levels could reduce marijuana sensitivity by up to 30%.

According to this study, women are more likely to be sensitive to marijuana's effects. It implies that women may be more prone to anxiety and paranoia than men. However, they are more likely to gain from beneficial benefits of THC, like pain relief. 

The Ageing Process, Mood & New Breeding Techniques

As we become older, our brains and ECS (extracellular space) change. At age 25, you might take cannabis without any issues. However, consuming the same dosage at age 45 can have consequences that you weren't expecting.

Additionally, your environment and attitude have a role. The likelihood of experiencing paranoia and anxiety from excessive THC use increases when you're already stressed out compared to when you're relaxed. Naturally, it will play on your mind if you're already concerned about getting "found" consuming marijuana. This is also true if you have a worried or suspicious nature.

It is also true that cannabis strains have grown significantly more strong recently. It was more difficult to find THC-rich cannabis throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the so-called "golden age" of marijuana. Breeders today, though, are continuously working to create more powerful breeds. A THC level of over 20% is the standard today, although you might have gotten 5-7 percent THC a few decades ago.

It is also true that cannabis strains have grown significantly more strong recently. It was more difficult to find THC-rich cannabis throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the so-called "golden age" of marijuana. And in the present day, breeders are now continuously working to create more powerful breeds. A THC level of over 20% is the standard today, although you might have gotten 5-7% THC a few decades ago.

How to stop being paranoid when high

Girl Meditating To Get Rid Of Weed Paranoia

Smoke slower and in smaller doses

In other words, you’d be micro-dosing. In this way, you’ll be testing out how much you need to feel a buzz or high, without getting uncomfortable. Nobody is pushing you to try it so be sure that if you don’t want to smoke or eat weed products, don’t. 

Don’t mix depressants with hallucinogens

If you happen to mix a depressant like alcohol with a hallucinogen (weed), then you might encounter a bad high. Try not to mix these two and if you feel like going after a high that may make you creative and imaginative, some people have claimed to mix stimulants with weed like caffeine or energy drinks. Of course, you’ll need to do this in moderation without overdoing either, or the two substances. 

Change your environment

Whenever you start to feel paranoid or nervous while high, you can try going into a different room or outside. Changing your location can help distract and ease the paranoia. Also, going somewhere you feel safe like in the middle of the forest with friends or somewhere else, may help avoid getting paranoid when high. 

Be in a group of friends 

Being in a group is an alternative to smoking alone. You can watch TV together, play games, or just relax and have a light-hearted conversation. Any activity that keeps your mind at ease will help distract you from thinking anxious thoughts. Try reminding yourself that the paranoia you’re feeling is just a side effect of illusion and it isn’t real. 


Meditating may help you relax because you’re taking time to sit down and concentrate on your breathing. Thinking only about your breath will help every other thought flowing through your mind just pass right through. Then you won’t pay much attention to it. Whether it’s good or bad thoughts, just letting them pass through and continuing to focus on your breathing will help you calm down. 

Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, meditation will even take you to a place of thoughtlessness! You will just exist and be one with your breath. And this can help a lot when dealing with weed paranoia. 

Eat this to ease your weed paranoia

Black pepper, lemon, and pine nuts

Science appears to support the idea that black pepper may be a cure-all for weed paranoia. According to Russo's research published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, cannabis and black pepper work well together. He found that the terpenoids in pepper and the tetrahydrocannabinol in cannabis combine to generate harmony in the brain - in medical terminology, it's the "phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effect." Also, in Russo's research, he found that pairing cannabis with the chemicals found in lemons, pine nuts, and black pepper, can produce a high devoid of anxiety or paranoia.


Don’t worry. Be happy.

Getting familiar with weed paranoia may serve as a counteractive factor for some people. However, if you are aware of it, how it works, why it happens, and what to do when you get it, then it’ll be easier to calm the mind and body. Right? By following the steps above or just getting to know your limits with weed, you can start living the Bob Marley and just “don’t worry, be happy!”



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That’s amazing! This is one of the most interesting topics! Thank you for sharing this information with me.

Faith Stephenson

this is a good article to educate people about weed. It is still not legal to smoke weed in my country but glad there are a lot of conversation about it now especially the transparency of what others could feel or react e.g paranoia when smoking it.

Erik the Hungry Traveller

Ooohhhh…it is good to know of information like this. There is a lot we need to know and understand about cannabis.

Ntensibe Edgar

I don’t have fair idea about these substances but I do understand that both are different. Usually when I am high, I prefer to sit quietly and look at people around


I know several people who are regular marijuana users and they don’t feel any sense of paranoia. But like you said, every person is different.


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