How can Marijuana help Depression?

Depression is a condition which is hard to define but can be devastating in impact.  At a mild level, depression is a long-term low mood.  At a serious level, depression can make people feel so unhappy that they self-harm in some way or even commit suicide.

The fact that the symptoms of depression can be so wide-ranging means that we can probably all identify with them to some point.  We have probably all experienced low moods and negative feelings.  The point at which these feelings become formally identifiable as depression, is the point at which they start having a meaningful, negative impact on your life.

Originally posted on 23rd July 2018, Updated on 29th January 2019

How does medical marijuana help depression?

One of the great benefits of the move to legalize medical marijuana is that it has made it much easier to gather scientific data. A lot of recent research has focused on investigating the possibility of using medical marijuana, as an alternative to opiate-based painkillers. There has also been some interesting research into mental/neurological conditions, such as depression.

A study conducted by researchers from Washington State University collected data on around 12,000 adults who suffered from depression.


The subjects provided their gender, along with the way they consumed cannabis, the strength and how much they used. Twenty minutes after usage, respondents rated the severity of their depression symptoms on a scale of 1-10.  This made it possible for the researchers to analyse the results, delivered by medical marijuana under normal conditions. In other words, where the respondent would usually use it rather than in a lab.

The results yielded some surprises.  People who automatically reach for THC as a way to boost themselves out of low moods might want to change their strain. Research discovered that just one puff of a strain, which was high in CBD and low in THC was enough to reduce the symptoms of depression.  They also found that two puffs of a cannabis strain with any level of THC or CBD, was enough to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Ten puffs of a cannabis strain which was high in both THC and CBD, was enough to lead to a significant reduction in the symptoms of self-reported stress.

Researchers also found that over time, even in the best THC:CBD ratio could cease to be effective. Resulting in the symptoms of depression making a comeback.  Patients can build up a resistance to medical marijuana in the same way as they can build up a resistance to various forms of prescription medication.

The way to avoid this is to be scrupulous about microdosing. Which is essentially the technical term for using only as much marijuana as necessary to get the job done.  Here are the five keys to effective microdosing.

Pay attention to your strain


Microdosing is about the dose of cannabinoids rather than the gram weight of your bud.  If you prefer to use potent strains,  then you should use less bud than if you medicate with a lower-potency strain.

Swap smoking for other consumption methods

Smoking cannabis may be fine for general chilling, but microdosing, as its name suggests, calls for accuracy,. Vaping may be a bit of an improvement in that it allows for more precise temperature control. But ideally you probably want to look at edibles and you may need to experiment with different forms of edibles to suit different situations.

Start low and go slow

Dispensaries and reputable seed banks can give you plenty of information on the characteristics of various strains. But you’re only going to find out how you react to them when you try them.

Give your medication a chance to work

Some strains are slow starters at the best of times and even the quickest of strains can be slowed down if you put it in an edible.  As a rule of thumb, allow at least 15 minutes for a strain to get to work when smoking it. Edibles can be more difficult to judge, but as a very loose guideline you would be looking at about 15 minutes for drinks. 30 minutes to an hour for foods which are easy to digest and up to 2 hours for foods which are harder to digest.

Think about timing

Keep a journal of your symptoms so you can begin to predict when you are likely to experience depression and be prepared for them.  You might want to look at having a range of treatments available, so you can pick the right one for the situation.

Best Medical Marijuana Strains For Depression


Cannatonic has low THC, with a maximum of 6% and high CBD of up to 17%. This is exactly the sort of cannabinoid content which the WSU study suggests is optimal for treating depression.

OG Kush

OG Kush has high THC of up to 24% and lower CBD at around 0.23%. This may not be ideal for treating depression itself, but it can help a lot with associated conditions such as headaches and lack of appetite.

Northern Lights

Northern Lights generally has about 18% THC and about 0.1% CBD.  This sort of ratio makes it a good all-rounder for many conditions. It's especially good if your depression is triggered by pain, as the THC will deal with that while the CBD helps balance your mood.

Blue Dream

Blue Dream has long been a popular choice for treating depression, especially in the daytime and it's easy to see why. It has about 17% to 24% THC and about 2% CBD. Therefore, it covers both pain relief and relaxation. But even though it has quite a lot of CBD, the substantial Sativa genetics make it lighter than you might think.

Girl Scout Cookies

Girl Scout Cookies is known as a THC powerhouse with 24% to 28% THC. But it also has about 1% CBD.  Like OG Kush, it could be a good choice if you experience headaches and loss of appetite due to your depression.

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