If you haven’t already heard, one of the biggest benefits of weed (aka. cannabis) is for improving mental health. Studies have shown that certain types of addiction and mental illnesses such as depression, social anxiety, and PTSD can be alleviated through the use of weed—while others, such as bipolar disorder, should not be treated with weed.
The body of research around weed and mental health isn’t huge right now because of its classification as a drug that has a high potential for abuse—which is funny because alcohol is regulated much less strictly, yet is also abused commonly around the world. But we digress.
So… does weed actually help with mental illness?
What mental illnesses does marijuana treat?
The best strains for anxiety and depression, in particular, are high-CBD strains. These strains of weed are good for controlling anxiety and stress, and because they have relatively higher levels of non-psychoactive CBD, you won’t get as much of the “high” effects produced by THC—which in some cases can make anxiety worse because of possible side-effects like dizziness and altered thinking.
Here are just three of the top strains for treating anxiety and depression:
Cannatonic is known for its low THC content—often below 6%—and high CBD content (as high as 17% or higher). What’s interesting is that it’s an equal blend of indica and sativa, meaning you can’t judge a strain by how much indica and sativa it’s made of! Its relaxing and uplifting qualities come with little to no buzz (aka. psychoactive effects), depending on how much you consume. It’s well regarded for inflammation too and is a popular daytime option when you have to get stuff done.
Another high-CBD strain that’s good for anxiety is Sour Tsunami. It’s a sativa-dominant hybrid with 10–11% CBD and 6-7% THC, though it’s bred for high CBD content. Like Cannatonic, it’s good for relieving anxiety, but because of its slightly higher levels of THC, it can also help ease certain types of pain and inflammation. The nice thing about Sour Tsunami? Even though it has relatively higher amounts of THC than Cannatonic, it won’t incapacitate you—you’ll still be clear-headed, just with the added perks of stress relief.
If you’re looking purely for the relaxation and well-being that comes with lots of CBD, ACDC is your sativa-dominant cannabis strain of choice. It’s one of the highest-CBD strains, with a 20 to 1 CBD to THC ratio. Compared to the other strains on this list, its CBD levels are relatively high: about 19%. Most high-CBD cannabis strains are good at reducing anxiety, and ACDC is no different. Again, you won’t have to worry about psychoactivity here because its THC are so low. One possible thing to look out for is dry mouth or dry eyes, so make sure to keep yourself hydrated.
How does marijuana help with mental illness?
Mental illnesses are complex, with many factors that connect and impact each other like biology, environment, and lifestyle choices. Even with decades of research, our understanding and knowledge of mental illnesses are still not all-encompassing. It’s important to take into account your body’s unique traits when you’re trying to gauge the possible effects of cannabis of you.
That being said, there have been encouraging findings of positive mental effects of weed, including its potential to: alleviate addiction and by extension, the opioid epidemic; offer a general sense of well-being; and treat bipolar disorder—though the data on its ability to treat depression is more mixed.
If you’re really curious about the benefits of weed on mental health, do your research, talk to different physicians, and if you’re completely new to marijuana, have a bud buddy who can check up on you and make sure everything’s chill.