Anxiety Medication and Marijuana

Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
January 5, 2023
cannabis plant in hands, Therapeutic Medical Conditions for Cannabis
cannabis plant in hands, Therapeutic Medical Conditions for Cannabis

Anxiety Medication and Marijuana

Both anxiety and cannabis are very common in the US, and indeed many users of medical marijuana or recreational weed are using it to alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety. But what is better to choose, or can marijuana and anxiety medication be taken altogether?

Are There Interactions or Contraindications Between Anxiety Medication and Marijuana?

As such, the potential for drug interactions is high as many users who have anxiety disorders – also use prescribed medications such as:

  1. Benzodiazepines (e.g., Lorazepam/Ativan, Klonopin/Clonazepam, etc.) – used for many types of anxiety, including panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Side effects include drowsiness, balance, and memory issues, and there is a great deal of abuse of benzos as they work well and can also be addictive. As such, shorter-term use is recommended, as withdrawal can be severe.
  2. SSRIs – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (e.g., Zoloft/Sertraline, Paxil/Paroxetine) – initially used for depression (common often alongside anxiety) – the use of SSRIs has proven effective in relieving patients from panic attacks and other forms of anxiety disorders.
  3. Older medicines and classes of medicines that are less frequent, such as MAOIs, tricyclic medications, Beta blockers, and others like Buspirone.

Each class of medicine and specific medication can have its own side effects as well as potential interactions with cannabis and cannabinoids.

Accentuation of Side Effects

Before taking marijuana, ​​medication for anxiety and depression, or something else, please consult with your physician about whether using THC , or Delta 8 THC, Delta 9, Delta 10, THCA & THCV or other hemp derived products for anxiety (or other related compounds) will affect your treatment.

Sometimes taking cannabis with a medication that has similar side effects, such as Buspirone (which can cause drowsiness, fatigue, dizziness, and dry mouth), can add to the perception of those side effects by, e.g., making the mouth drier or the person more tired.

Other higher-risk medicines that require greater caution, as cannabis could magnify negative effects such as increased heart rate as well as blood pressure, include:

  • Sedatives (e.g., Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien).
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., Imipramine/Tofranil, Amitriptyline, Doxepin, Trimipramine/Surmontil).
  • MAOIs (e.g., Tranylcypromine/Parnate, Phenelzine/Nardil, Isocarboxazid/Marplan).

Time to Take Effect and Duration of Action vs. Cannabis

Each class of medicine has different mechanisms of action, with some, like Benzodiazepines, being more immediate and others that take longer to take effect – like Buspirone. Additionally, each medicine has a different profile for how the body absorbs and eliminates that medicine, and that can also affect how long the compound will affect anxiety.

Due to the half-life of cannabinoids and their mechanism of action, cannabis and related specific cannabinoids may also provide immediate relief. Smoking, in particular, delivers cannabinoids into the bloodstream very rapidly – and therefore, the effects on the brain and central nervous system can be felt almost immediately in most individuals. The effects come faster with smoking and also dissipate more rapidly.

Other forms of administration, such as edibles and capsules, have a less immediate effect due to their need to be absorbed, but the results can be felt for longer.

Other Ways of Managing Anxiety

Anxiety can range from being a mild form felt occasionally and slightly uncomfortable to being constant and debilitating. Each individual is different, with different underlying causes and conditions. While medications and cannabis may serve to help, it is important to consider lifestyle choices that can also help.

These choices include:

  1. Exercise. According to the ADDA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), exercise can be helpful in the management of and reduction of stress and enhances one’s overall sense of well-being. Even moderate exercise can lead to significant improvements in many individuals.
  2. Meditation & Yoga. Even as little as 15 minutes of focusing on deep breathing and relaxation can significantly help reduce stress.
  3. Therapy. Reach out for some psychological help to work through the troubles worrying you.


Oftentimes medications are prescribed for symptoms of an underlying disease rather than the condition itself. This is an important consideration, especially when combining anxiety medication and marijuana; therefore, there could be other changes or interactions you may notice that may or may not be related to the medication interactions. It is always best to check with your healthcare provider and other experts to ensure you are being careful when adding to your regimen. It is also good to speak with cannabis experts to select the right strain for your needs and interests.