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How Marijuana creates paranoia

California and 12 other states have medical marijuana laws that allow for people, with a doctor's prescription, to use marijuana as a way to relieve pain or calm anxious nerves.  Articles previously written by this examiner highlighted how that works.

Yet the negative effects of marijuana are just as real. They may not include making people jump out of windows such as those 1950's scare tactic ads suggested, but there are legitimate mental health concerns with chronic use. This article will discuss how marijuana can induce paranoia and stunt emotional growth. If you are a teenager or parent of a teenager, you might want to read this.

Please note that this author does not condone the use of any substances deemed illegal.

The brain has a section called the Amygdala, which is located in the deep middle of your brain. It's part of a Limbic system, which means it is connected to all of your brain's functions. The Amygdala's main function is to promote emotional growth. It helps you learn when to be happy, when to be sad, when to be afraid, when to be strong, what promotes excitement, what causes anger and even how to control those emotions. The Amygdala uses cannabinoid receptors to transmit those instructions and grow the brain cells by creating memory paths for them.  It's just like driving to your house every day. After awhile, your body knows what to do and it seems almost automatic as time goes on.

Whenever marijuana is inhaled, it has an immediate effect on the body. Inhaling bypasses any toxic removal functions as done by the liver and kidneys. Smoke immediately reaches the mind, blasting it with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.  When THC reaches the Amygdala, it connects to those cannabinoid receptors and interrupts their transmissions. It can send mixed signals or prevent any signal from being sent at all. A small study showed that chronic marijuana users had smaller Amygdalas than non-chronic users.

Remember, this is all in association with chronic use, not recreational use. Even if you don't believe the science, take a look at the chronic and recreational pot smokers you know. Observe their habits.

With chronic marijuana use, the signals for fear and worry can be tremendously affected. Some studies in adult smokers show that fear is actually reduced. But these adults have fully-formed emotional brains. In brains still learning how emotions work, however, these emotions are stunted and warped. They start to contribute to memories and overthinking. Imagine an immature, emotional feeling of fear inside a mind that's already dealing with trying to avoid getting caught using illegal substances.

So if you are smoking marijuana or considering smoking marijuana, you might want to also consider these risks, especially if you have known mental health disorders.


  • concerned reader 4 years ago

    the AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION even conceded.... GIVE IT UP!!!!!

    ps. doesnt matter how many new writers you get, you are still on the losing side of the battle

  • JoePublic 4 years ago


    I failed to see where it says Dr. Paul Bright. Aren't mental health examiners just people who failed at obtaining a medical license to become a shrink.

    If scientific facts are being stated where are the references. I fail to see any real references (probably because the links were not created properly). It's pretty sad when you can't even create a proper link to your references. And you probably expect people to take you seriously.

    Look I write a bunch of related words and call it an "article" too.

  • Emylou Lewis 4 years ago

    Looks like you wrote a controversial one!

    Third culture kids examiner
    Seattle stay-at-home moms examiner

  • ProudSmoker 4 years ago

    Inhaling bypasses any toxic removal functions as done by the liver and kidneys.

    Took special offence to this statement. If you had done your research you would know THC is NON TOXIC and therefore any "toxic removal functions" of the liver and kidney are irrelevant.

    Also, joe public is write if you want people to take you seriously you have to provide references to full text peer reviewed articles from reputable journals.
    Besides being biased and misleading the article is actually well written.

  • EgadsNo 4 years ago

    Wow- the hippocampus is responsible for handling stress and anxiety (paranoia ) and marijuana = hippocampal neurogenesis any wonder some people would get stressed out while signaling the rebuilding of density and volume caused from damage via stress hormones... Not to mention accounting for the short term memory loss. Do not tell me there is a single cell in the human body where the CB1/2 receptor is not still governed in function by the cell- keeping it free of detriment.

    Paranoia is not Fear, Fear is a reaction to an emotion, namely anxiety and paranoia originating from the hippocampus. Fear is handled in the Amygdala

  • mr_bill 4 years ago

    I'll take a mild paranoiac over a violent drunk anyday. Let's not forget the role that William Randolph Hearst, Examiner founder and patron saint of yellow journalists everywhere had in faking up the evidence for marijuana prohibition in the first place, in order to shore up his monopoly on paper production:


    Also: "Marijuana smokers, Assassins of society" :

  • Paul Bright 4 years ago

    1) pot is NOT legal in all states. Pot used for medical marijuana purposes is legal in 13 states so far, with doc's prescription. I noted that.
    2) no, THC is not toxic. But there are natural toxins in marijuana smoke. Also, read that most of this is about CHRONIC use, not recreational. But paranoia will make you see things that aren't there.
    3) mental health examiners are not "failed license" ppl. You want us to do "More research" but then you make that statement. Please.
    4) If this was biased, I wouldn't have included the link showing where recreational marijuana use can be beneficial to adults. In the last article, I showed how it works to reduce psychomotor agitation. Might just be your paranoia.
    5) I completely agree with the wrongs on WHY pot is illegal. But I'm not the SF Legal Examiner; I'm the SF Mental Health examiner. The AMA didn't concede that Pot was LEGAL. They have no say in that. The AMA said it shouldn't be illegal because not enough testing was done to justify it

  • Paul Bright 4 years ago

    I fixed the links. Sorry about that. Don't be afraid. They actually go to real documented studies.

  • DarthNole 4 years ago

    I'd like you to key in on just a few items:

    #1 - "Amygdala uses cannabinoid receptors..." --- is it not AMAZING tht there is a portion of our brain the interact so perfectly with the plant Cannabis

    #2 - "fear inside a mind that's already dealing with trying to avoid getting caught using illegal substances." --- The argument can be made that the "paranoia" one feels is directly related to the prohibition of the substance. If the non-toxic plant that just so happens to interact perfectly with receptors deep within our brain, were re-legalized, regulated, and taxed this "paranoia" would not occur......

  • Loser 3 years ago

    heh heh,cool.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    Mr Bright ,

    Your article is inspiring. I'm a chronic user and I'm fascinated with how drugs alter the chemicals and neuro-transmitter functions in users minds. I like to feel informed about what is happening when I smoke because it helps me feel in control of my habit. Practically any substance can cause a negative outcome with abuse though, even cannabis, its a shame people won't accept that.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    previous posters have clearly never had a panic attack from smoking cannabis. You don't get paranoid over it being prohibited, you get paranoid because it causes your thoughts to splinter into a million little thought-shards of horror and morbidity, each jutting out of your skull in an odd fashion. Kids shouldn't smoke bud. This is coming from a kid who smoked weed since he was about 13.

  • JMF 3 years ago

    ^this guy knows, ive been there
    What I hate is that people seem to think that pot will help me, and trust me, it never does, I haven't smoked it in awhile, and everytime I do it sends me into a bad trip...memories come up, and I just don't feel like Im in control...If I could take back my time smoking I would....FOR SURE

  • paranoid 3 years ago

    I'm 21 years old, male and a recreational smoker and smoke once every month or so, mostly indoors with my mates. I'm a university junior. Around mid-trip, i feel paranoid about my life and where I'm headed. Sometimes, I tend to 'become' an outside entity and judge myself as a 'creature' of society and point fingers at myself and dwell on the negative points only. When sober, I'm perfectly normal, confident and social. I also have many friends and a girlfriend. Maybe the dealer is shady, or maybe weed is not for me.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    Check your links again. The "small study showed that chronic marijuana users had smaller Amygdalas than non-chronic users" shows no such thing.

    Also, you make rather controversial and frankly unscientific statements such as "But these adults have fully-formed emotional brains. In brains still learning how emotions work, however, these emotions are stunted and warped". Such bold declarations need to be supported and as far as I know there are no such studies investigating emotions, age and marijuana use.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    As if cannabis is some new dangerous man-made substance. You need to realize that cannabis is a natural resource that has evolved with humans since the beginning. Cannabis use has been recorded in history going back thousands of years. Its not going to kill you. It's not going to "shrink your brain". It's not going to give you a heart attack. Cannabis is not going to poison you, It's not possible to overdose on cannabis. It wont shrink your penis either.

  • Joe 2 years ago

    Cannabis causes paranoia in over 20 percent of the people who use it.

  • Anonymous 1 year ago

    Because of its illegality cannabis is made by crooks who make it so potent that the THC levels are through the roof (near 20% now compared to 3-5% in the sixties) and that this consequently lowers CBD levels in the plant (Cannabidiol). Here's the deal : THC is the psycho-active component of the plant. CBD is a component that works as an antipsychotic. It should be made legal, taxed, grown in a controlled environment and distributed by the government.

  • Anonymous 9 months ago

    You can't tell a druggie that what they're doing is wrong and how it can adversely effect them. They're dope heads that could care less. They're just wondering when their next high is coming.

  • anonymous 7 months ago

    Everything you do in life effects the people around you, EVERYTHING! Sometimes even more than it effects yourself! Beware of yourself as it effects your loved ones! Dont be selfish!

  • jason 5 months ago

    You can't call someone who smokes weed a druggie if u knew anything about this glorious wonder of mother earth you would know its not addictive personally I go through stages where ill smoke everyday for a couple months at a time even then ill just say enoughs enough and ill just stop smoking for a couple weeks months or years at a time so why don't u take ur close minded beliefs to a link where it will be appreciated ..feeble really weak minded miss guided soul shame may God have mercy on you !!you gonna need it

  • dude 4 months ago

    Dude fuck that shit

  • Nero 4 months ago

    "A small study showed that chronic marijuana users had smaller Amygdalas than non-chronic users."

    Very interesting. A study making the rounds this week claims that chronic cannabis users have *larger* Amygdalas than non-chronic users. And that's being spun as a *bad* thing.

    So which is worse, a small Amygdala or a large Amygdala?

  • mcdougal 4 months ago

    First off the Amygdala is responsible for fear and memory. Second when THC is smoked it is absorbed into the bloodstream, therefore being processed by the liver and kidneys to remove toxins present. All smoke is toxic to all living organisms. Please when putting stuff on the internet be factually accurate and give credit with in text citations for credibility.

  • nicolene 4 months ago

    Good day I'm not sure how this pod works with me I'm not a pod smoker but sometime m friends want me to smoke whit them so I get heavy paranoid I think they doing stuff to kill me and m boyfriend is cheating an me its like I'm so cleaver pointing the small things they say makes it led to m paranoid they setting me up

  • Anonymous 4 months ago

    Did you even read the article? They were referencing to CHRONIC smokers - everything in moderation, which is what keeps weed safe.

  • Anonymous 4 months ago

    Did you even read the article? They were referencing to CHRONIC smokers - everything in moderation, which is what keeps weed safe.

  • Olivia 4 months ago

    mcdougal could you please provide links for your claims there, haha.

  • Richard Vert 3 months ago

    See , this is why people who really don't know anything about what they're talking about should talk about something else. To keep it simple , it's immature trichomes that cause the paranoia. Must let those little guys get nice and cloudy , and even let 10 to 20 percent degrade to an amber color. Greedy growers chop their crop too early while the trichomes are still clear and basically the dope just isn't done yet. It's all on the internet just get it from an informed source.