Does Cannabis Affect Men and Women Differently?

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Added 15 May 2021


All species, animals, and humans have differences in their behavior, the way they process information, handle emotions but also have differences in their hormones and genes. This even goes to aspects such as our language and social skills and the way we portray ourselves in society. The human body handles this and regulates itself through chemical transmissions that are sent between a network of neurons that crosses our entire body and brain. These "messages" are sent out via presynaptic cells in the neurons, which then get passed through a synapse and received by a postsynaptic cell on a separate neuron, which then communicates the response. This communication is constant and helps to regulate functions such as emotion, thoughts, and physical movement. Gender and the definition of sex is a construct that is defined by chromosomes and anatomy and such but, in our society, gender is a social and cultural construct linked to our own personal identity. and this is not defined by how you look. And in this article, we will be going over the topic of how cannabis affects men and women differently in more than a few ways.

The Effect Of Cannabis On The Human Body

In our brain, we have endocannabinoid receptors and these receptors are neurotransmitters that are scattered all across our body. We need these in order to keep our body in a condition called homeostasis. This is the term used for our ideal balance, and this is of course when all is going well and everything works with great health. Not only does our body has naturally occurring endocannabinoids that work with our endocannabinoid system but plant-based cannabinoids such as THC and CBD ( phytocannabinoids ) also interact with it ( and that is how you get high ).

The following are just a few ways cannabis can affect your body :

Positive or negative emotions and thoughts

Increased/decreased anxiety or depression

Pain Relief

Appetite, aka 'the munchies'

Sexual appetite

Dehydration and thirst

Impaired judgment

Memory loss

Ease of sleep/Drowsiness

How Cannabis Affects Men and Women Differently

There are more than a few ways that Cannabis affects men and women in different ways. This goes from aspects such as, how fast we get high, what our sexual appetite and experience is, but also the way we could get possible side effects such as depression or anxiety. Now, to be honest, this is a hard subject because of a lack of good scientific research but a few conclusions have been made by science.

  1. Who gets high quicker? The effects of using cannabis are experienced the same for both genders, however, studies have shown that women seem to get the same effects but with lower doses of THC. More and better lab research that was done on animals showed the same and they believe it has to do with how THC is metabolized with females. But because of the lack of human research, the reason is undetermined.
  2. Sexual appetite : Cannabis is proven to enhance sexual appetite, but, other studies have shown that cannabis can have a bad influence on blood circulation, and as a side effect can make you tired and less focused "to perform". However, there are very conclusive studies that show that many of the participants, male and female alike, by using cannabis, were able to relax better, have a greater sense of touch and sensitivity, and therefore having a better sexual experience.

  3. Anxiety is a hard thing to deal with. Cannabis can have a big effect on this, especially with heavy and long-term users. But when it comes to men and women, there seems to be a difference where studies and research have shown that women are more sensitive to experience things such as "heart racing" and higher levels of anxiety as a side-effect.
  4. Panic / Personality disorders : There are many types of mental disorders but men have a higher chance, especially when it comes to long-term use and abuse of cannabis, to develop panic and personality disorders. 
  5. Withdrawal symptons : Studies have shown that the male sex is more sensitive in having withdrawal symptoms coming from cannabis use but this is most likely very related to the fact that men are the biggest group of cannabis users and because the way research is done by mostly having male patients.

It is hard to make final conclusions about some of the subjects since much of the research is somewhat biased toward the male gender and incomplete when it comes to the female gender, and not only that, research of cannabis on humans is just incomplete, to say the least, in the conclusion we give you a better understanding why this is the case.


The field of research on cannabis is still in its early stage because lawmaking around the world can make it difficult sometimes to perform tests and proper studies on humans and cannabis. It's still at the beginning of identifying aspects that could provide a neurobiological basis, based on facts and research to see what are the gender-based differences with cannabis use. Even though we have looked at several studies that are clinical and laboratory-based research, the evidence is not complete and we can only hope future studies will come to fill the gap in our knowledge about this subject!

Another good piece of info why research is incomplete and somewhat biased, clinical research still seems to underrepresent female patients but in modern society, there should be no excuse to limit research to only one sex. This makes progress go slower in this field but the hardest thing about is that not always report their findings, whether these are good or bad, we should be able to get this information anyway! 

Feel free to drop a line below in the comment section!


How important are sex differences in cannabinoid action? - Liana Fattore, Walter Fratta ( 2010 )

How Cannabis Alters Sexual Experience: A Survey of Men and Women - Ellen Wiebe, Alanna Just ( 2019 )

Cannabis study suggests women may need less THC to get to the same effects as men - Eric W Dolan ( 2020 )

Women May Be More Likely To Get Anxiety From Occasional Cannabis Use Than Men, Study Finds - Emily Earlenbaugh ( 2020 )

Sex differences in the acute effects of smoked cannabis: evidence from a human laboratory study of young adults - Justin Matheson, Beth Sproule, Patricia Di Ciano, Andrew Fares, Bernard Le Foll, Robert E. Mann & Bruna Brands  ( 2019 )

Cannabis and the Anxiety of Fragmentation—A Systems Approach for Finding an Anxiolytic Cannabis Chemotype - Brishna S. Kamal, Fatima Kamal1 and Daniel E. Lantela ( 2018 )

Sex differences in the acute effects of oral and vaporized cannabis among healthy adults - Dennis J. Sholler, Justin C. Strickland, Tory R. Spindle, Elise M. Weerts, Ryan Vandrey ( 2020 )

How important are sex differences in cannabinoid action? - Liana Fattore, Walter Fratta ( 2010 )

This article was updated May 2021


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