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Women and Weed

We all know that smoking marijuana has an effect on people who use. But what we don’t talk about are gender differences, which do exist. This article will look at how marijuana affects women (cis-women) in particular. Unfortunately, little attention is being focused on this subject and to date the only data/tests that have been conduced has been on rats.

1. Women’s Sensitivity and Tolerance to THC.

THC is the chemical in marijuana that is responsible for the high felt during use, and is the component that causes addiction. Interestingly, studies show that women respond differently to THC because of their naturally higher levels of estrogen, a female hormone. Estrogen receptors bind to the THC chemical strongly which in turn makes women feel the high stronger and quicker than men, meaning they have a higher sensitivity to this drug.

The stronger reaction to THC also plays into females’ tolerance to the drug. Tolerance is when a person needs a higher dose over time in order to feel the same level of high. Needing a stronger dose of THC every time they use is when marijuana addiction can start.

2. The Effects on Women’s Mental Health

Many people use cannabis to help “treat” or ‘self-medicate’ anxiety and depression. But what many people don’t know is that using cannabis can actually cause depression and anxiety. Regular cannabis use can cause your brain to stop creating dopamine which is the pleasure/happiness chemical and anandamide, the calming chemical. Cannabis floods the brains dopamine and anandamide receptors causing the brain to think it has plenty, so it stops producing it. So this results in a big impact on their mental health which can cause depression, anxiety, paranoia and potentially drug addiction.

3. Using before, during, and after pregnancy

Women who use cannabis during pregnancy usually say it’s for morning sickness. The concern is there could be fetal development damage such as an increased risk of lower birth rate and developmental problems such as autism, vision problems, or seizure like symptoms (WDG Public Health).

If a mother decides to breast feed while using cannabis, the chemicals and THC are transferred to the baby through the milk that can make a baby drowsy, making it hard for them to latch, and affects the baby’s movements and responses (WDG Public Health).

Even after pregnancy, there can be second hand smoke, including vapor from vape devices that can be very harmful for a new born.

Using cannabis has a slightly different effect on cis-women and it is not being talked about enough especially using cannabis during pregnancy. So far, the studies about women and weed have the same outcome, that cannabis has a negative effect on women, physically and mentally. I encourage women to share this information with others!

Look for future articles where we will go over how males are affected by marijuana. Check out Omni Youth Programs YouTube videos "Let’s Talk Pot Part 1: How Much Does Marijuana Help or Hurt?" and Lets Talk Pot Part 2: How does my young brain react to marijuana? to learn more about how marijuana can affect you. Check out our Facebook Live - Women and Weed for a more information about this blog!

Also follow us on social media where we share youth marijuana and alcohol prevention tips and data!


San Juan Regional Medical Center - Cannabis and Pregnancy

WDGPublicHealth - Cannabis: Before, During and After Pregnancy

Estrogen Increases Cannabis Sensitivity

Science Daily - Sex, drugs and estradiol: Why cannabis affects women differently

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