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Marijuana Makes You Paranoid

According to a new study published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin, marijuana can cause short-term paranoia in people who use it. The paranoia is specifically caused by marijuana’s main active ingredient THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

Daniel Freeman, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford in England and study leader, stated: “The study very convincingly shows that cannabis [marijuana] can cause short-term paranoia in some people.”

He also said: “But more importantly it shines a light on the way our mind encourages paranoia. Paranoia is likely to occur when we are worried, think negatively about ourselves, and experience unsettling changes in our perceptions.”


Marijuana Makes You Paranoid/Image:THCzar

The researchers recruited 121 subjects between the ages of 2 and 50 who had previously used marijuana. One third of them were injected with a placebo while the remaining two thirds were injected with THC. The dose of tetrahydrocannabinol was equal to that of a single joint or marijuana cigarette.

Following the injections, 50 percent who had been injected with marijuana reported paranoid thoughts as opposed to only 30 percent of those who had been given a placebo. The investigative team thus concluded that the tetrahydrocannabinol was the cause of the “increased paranoia in one in five” of the subjects injected with the drug. Additionally, their paranoia lessened as the tetrahydrocannabinol left the bloodstream.

Freeman and his team also discovered that psychological elements such as anxiety, low self-esteem, worrying and experiencing numerous upsetting “changes in perception” brought on by tetrahydrocannabinol added to the paranoia.

The drug’s active ingredient also was responsible for several additional psychological effects including anxiety, bad mood, negative self-perception, “poorer short-term memory”, worry and numerous alterations in perception. For example, subjects often thought that colors were abnormally bright, sounds were louder and their sense of time was affected as well.

Freeman noted: “The study provides a great deal more information about the immediate effects of cannabis, but it did not investigate clinically severe disorder. The results don’t necessarily have any implications for policing, the criminal justice system, or legislation.”

He concluded: “It tells us about the little-discussed paranoid-type fears that run through the minds of so many people from time to time. The implication is that reducing time spent ruminating, being more confident in ourselves, and not catastrophizing when unusual perceptual disturbances occur will in all likelihood lessen paranoia.”

About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.
  • Carmen gonzales

    That explains a lot, Mr. Phoenix.

    • Will Phoenix

      Hi Carmen!
      My personal opinion is that every drug has its potential side-effects. Still, i try to make sure I report on the good and bad of marijuana because I don’t think we should hide either the pros or the cons.

  • GSWSyndicate

    While I agree with the studies relfected here by the journalist, I believe one extremely (lifesaving) study has been left out…perhaps purposely. That is, cannabis also reduces paranoia, schizophrenia, and most importantly PTSD on many more people than it induces paranoia. In fact it was these studies that motivated the VA to move to legalize cannabis for veterans with PTSD. They will be getting cannabis, thank God, as we are losing several veterans per day to suicide many of whom are on prescription drugs which only tend to exacerbate the issue. Now, farmers know how to grow strains of marijuana with very little THC and very high CBD which is nothing less than a “miracle herb” for such mental issues. Why did you purposely leave that out? Or were you just not aware? Or are you perhaps working with Big Pharma who is trying to hide this info from the public since it is not much of a money-maker for them. Their synthetic “Marinol” has turned out to be an expensive total disaster for chemo patients.

    • Will Phoenix

      Hi GSW,
      I just wrote a story involving PTSD and marijuana in fact. I try to cover both the pros and cons. my personal opinion is all drugs seem to have potential side effects so we just have to make our choices knowing that. This particular story just happened to be about a study concerning what I would call a potential side-effect. Thanks for reading my stuff and if you search under my name and marijuana you will see the other aspects I have covered including legalization, PTSD and so forth. Thanks for reading my stuff!

  • timedonkey

    Marijuana is a truth serum. When folks partake they are brought into remembrance of what they have thought, said and done, viewed in the light of unfaltering righteousness and begin judging in themselves, what is right, what is wrong. This moral perspective can be a little scary if you have never had the sublime experience of questioning yourself, your own motives. As for the study, it scares me, I mean, injected THC, they are true paranoids and should ask their own doctors if medical marijuana might not be right for them. The herb has helped a lot of fear biters live a normal life.

    • Will Phoenix

      Hi time,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, there is some truth that some people get introspective. Thanks for reading my stuff.

  • massvocals

    we need to legalize get the donkey out of this

    • Will Phoenix

      Hi mass,
      I am hesitant to point the finger at one source myself but thanks for your comment and thanks for reading my stuff.

  • nezzybc1

    not everyone suffers from paranoia, most of the paranoiia comes from beleiving your doing something wrong.. there will never be anything wrong in smoking marijuana

    in my mind. life’s too short to let that sort of thing get in the way..

    • Will Phoenix

      Hi nezzy!
      Well, technically, there is something wrong with it where it is illegal but if you check out some of my other articles on marijuana you will see that is changing too. I believe it could very well end up like many of our new drugs in that they all have possible side effects. Having done some research in college I can say that you have to have the right numbers or they consider your work to be nothing. This particular study the numbers fell more towards paranoia than away from them but –as you note– it doesn’t mean everyone gets paranoid. Thanks for your comment and thanks for reading my stuff!