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Why Does Cannabis Make Some People Freak Out?

People tend to have two reactions when it comes to marijuana: they either find it very relaxing or they don’t. Those who belong to the latter group accuse the plant of being paranoia-inducing, making them feel like they are too “in their head,” similar to having a melt down. It’s not a nice sensation, so it makes sense that these people don’t want to give marijuana a second chance.

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These findings and anecdotes leave cannabis in an interesting spot since the plant is capable of producing the exact opposite effects in different people. This is all due to the make up in their brains and their predispositions to the drug.

Cannabinoids like THC bind to the receptors in the brain, causing either relaxing or negative effects. Some of these receptors are located in spots governed by the amygdala, a section of tissue that’s responsible for managing emotions like fear, stress and paranoia. In users who are new to cannabis or are anxious about consuming it, THC can overexcite the brain’s neural pathways and produce heightened anxiety, stress and fear.

Studies show that the positive and therapeutic effects of cannabis are due to the influence of cannabinoids on patients’ endocannabinoid systems. These positive results appear markedly when patients are running low on these chemicals due to past experiences with trauma and PTSD.

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The most clear link between freak outs and cannabis occurs when people are new to the plant or have a negative predisposition to it. In order to prevent this it’s recommended to  stick to low and manageable doses (avoiding oils and edibles since they’re harder to manage) and to smoke in a place that’s comfortable and private. Where you smoke and who you smoke with are very important factors to your experience, playing a role that could separate a good high from a bad one.

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