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Research Suggests That High Potency Products May Lead to Increased Anxiety

Chane Leigh

by Chane Leigh

February 25, 2021 10:47 am ET Estimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
Medically reviewed by Dr. Abraham Benavides
Research Suggests That High Potency Products May Lead to Increased Anxiety

The idea that cannabis can be used for dealing with anxiety is most likely due to its CBD component. However, a recent study shows that regular consumption of cannabis with high concentrations of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) could lead to the opposite and then some. 

Reducing anxiety and preventing the increase thereof as it is accommodated by adverse effects and leaves the individuals with an ominous sense of worry, dread, or uneasiness. Anxiety can cause a disturbance in the person’s daily life which is why cannabis inducing anxiety is cause for concern and caution. 

A Recent Study Shows Frequent or High-Potency Consumption Could Be Problematic

A study published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal in May 2020 displayed results of increased chances of anxiety as well as having higher chances of developing Cannabis Use Disorder (the cannabis version of addiction) among UK young adults due to frequent consumption of higher-potency cannabis. 

Cannabis containing around 10% or less of THC is considered low-potency while cannabis containing more than 10% is considered to be high-potency. 

The study published in May also revealed that only 12.8% of the participants in the study were consuming high-potency cannabis on a regular basis while the rest frequently consumed low-potency cannabis. The same study also revealed that men made up the largest part of the group which frequently consumed high-potency cannabis.

Before the study began, the participant’s socioeconomic status and conditions (such as anxiety) were assessed and declared. Thereafter, the patients consumed cannabis with either low- or high-potency. It was found that the participants consuming cannabis with high potency were likely to consume cannabis more often and became more likely to develop a generalized anxiety disorder. 

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Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) can be defined as persistent and excessive worry or stress over a number of different things at the same time such as money and health. 

The Study Only Proves a Correlation Between High-Potency and Anxiety

Although this study may present evidence suggesting medical cannabis consumers should stick to consuming low-potency cannabis, there are some problems with the study. Firstly, it relied largely on self-reported results. It also made use of a specific age and demographic group, which means that it may not be applicable on a larger scale. The researchers also didn’t take mental health data from individuals who do not consume cannabis at all, thus making it hard to compare to the natural development of anxiety in the general public.

High-potency products are gaining popularity and taking over shelving space and stock. As the cannabis in modern years continues to evolve into bigger, denser, higher potency products, it would be wise to limit your intake of them, at least until more concrete evidence and research have been established. THC content has actually increased by 212% since 1995 according to a survey done by Colorado cannabis dispensaries in 2017. 

Just a Word of Caution

The caution is advised to limit and prevent the possibility of becoming ‘addicted’ to cannabis through the increased chances of developing Cannabis Use Disorder as well as to ensure the cannabis does reduce your anxiety instead of increasing it. 

If the reason for your consumption of high-potency products is because your usual dose isn’t working as well anymore (it’s less effective), then it would be in your best interest to take at least a 24-48 hour tolerance break. If you are consuming cannabis daily, you can build up a tolerance that may necessitate a higher potency or larger quantity of cannabis in order to get the desired and original results from previous times. Regular tolerance breaks can lessen the need for higher potency, thus reducing the risk of adverse effects.  

It may also be wise to avoid high-potency cannabis if you are under 21, or already have a severe anxiety or psychotic disorder. Always talk to your doctor first before taking cannabis or cannabinoids for any reason as they may not be appropriate for everyone and you may need other treatments. Mental health conditions are serious, can be emergencies, and should always be closely supervised by a qualified professional.

Cannabis has a long list of research that still needs to be done, but by keeping yourself educated and up-to-date, you could make better use of cannabis while minimizing any setbacks or adverse effects. 

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