May 7, 2023  – For one, a person’s mental health state prior to consuming the drug can impact whether they feel anxious after taking it, as research shows cannabis can intensify emotions a user is already feeling.   

Sex may also be a factor. Among infrequent cannabis users, women are more likely to feel anxious, nervous or restless after using the drug, according to one 2020 study.   

“A person’s sex potentially influences every aspect of cannabis use,” said Esther Choo, professor of emergency medicine at the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine. For that reason, she said, “sex differences would not be surprising.”  But she cautioned that “the science is not consistent on what those differences are. The medical literature provides no clear basis to assume, for example, that women are consistently more prone to feeling intense or negative symptoms, like anxiety, from cannabis use versus men.”

The type of cannabis being consumed does play a significant role, mainly because different strains have varying concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. 

“If you look at one of these rigorous studies where you’re comparing an active ingredient in cannabis to a placebo and looking at anxiety, what you see is that at a certain dose, participants will show decreases in anxiety compared to a placebo,” said Ziva Cooper, director of the UCLA Center for Cannabis and Cannabinoids.