Dealing With Munchies, Paranoia & Other Negative Effects of Cannabis

On a recent episode of one of my favorite TV shows, some of the characters got high while camping; many hijinx ensued.

There was a point at which the boys were so overcome by the munchies that they were seriously considering commiting a crime (stealing food from another campsite). Obviously it was all fiction and played for laughs, but I’m curious:

  1. Are the munchies really so powerful that someone would resort to strong-armed robbery to satisfy the cravings? (*DISCLAIMER: I’ve smoked some pot in my time, but I’ve never had the munchies, so I have no frame of reference).

  2. Is there some kind of intervention that can negate the effects of cannabis (and the resultant munchies) besides food? Sort-of like an antidote?

  3. What about paranoia? I’ve had one full-on paranoid freak-out, and it sucked. The last time I lit up, I felt a little paranoia coming on, and I quickly chugged a Pepsi. I had read somewhere that caffeine helped. FWIW, it did help, but it could have been the placebo effect at work.

NOTE TO MODS: I am NOT asking for advice about how to do illegal substances.

Purely from anecdotal experience:

Are the munchies really so powerful that someone would resort to strong-armed robbery to satisfy the cravings?

No. The worst I heard was my brother pouring sugar on dry white bread when in that state, just to eat something.

2) Is there some kind of intervention that can negate the effects of cannabis (and the resultant munchies) besides food? Sort-of like an antidote?

Not even “besides” food. Eating food doesn’t make you less stoned, it just feels like the right thing to do at the time - and it tastes SO good if you eat when stoned.

3) What about paranoia? I’ve had one full-on paranoid freak-out, and it sucked. The last time I lit up, I felt a little paranoia coming on, and I quickly chugged a Pepsi. I had read somewhere that caffeine helped. FWIW, it did help, but it could have been the placebo effect at work.

I stopped smoking because I got paranoid too often. Nothing would particularly help if I got paranoid, with the exception of booze, which took the edge off a bit.

Drug Use in the Entertainment Media is rarely portrayed accurately. Most people have never experienced illegal drug use and only recognize the sterotypical hollywood portrayals. We expect to see a pot user on film be relaxed and/or lethargic and have the munchies.

“Big Bang Theory” certainly exaggerated the symptoms for comic effect.

As with legal drugs, some effects of illegal drugs vary widely from person to person. Add in the inconsistant quality…

[Moderator note]

Ok so far, but let’s also avoid discussion of personal present use of illegal drugs. Keeping the discussion in general terms will be best.

General Questions Moderator

The “munchies” aren’t anything like the kind of extreme hunger you feel if you, say, go without food for a day or more. There’s definitely a craving for food (and something to drink – often because your mouth is dry); then, when you get the food, you tend to eat a lot of it. Classic would be eating an entire bag of chips, because they just taste so awesome.

edited because I realized it sounded like a suggestion

  1. The munches aren’t so much about being really hungry, IMO. With pot, once you start doing something you tend to continue doing it (Newton’s first law of Pot). If you start on a bag of chips you will likely eat the whole thing. So I hear anyway.

  2. No antidote, and I won’t share an anecdote. Exercise helps though.

  3. The paranoia sucks and I’ve never found an antidote. Part of the problem is that, should you experience pot induced paranoia, you are also doing something illegal, so the paranoia is actually warranted. They are out to get you!

It’s not so much that you get hungry. You just never feel full so you keep eating. It doesn’t hurt that no matter what you’re eating is the best tasting thing ever.

Paranoia varies from person to person. I was never paranoid. One of my friends was in fact, a little too trusting when smoking. I remember him waiting for the security guard who was trying to chase us because we were smoking in a private parking complex. I also have friends on the opposite end of the spectrum that would always freakout and imagine someone was chasing him.

After smoking pot long and frequently enough, you stop getting the munchies (and sleepiness). It’s a sign of long-term changes to your metabolic system, which isn’t good.

The only thing that stops paranoia is placebo (and anti-anxiety meds, of course). Paranoia can also become worse physiologically due to those aforementioned long-term changes, but it exists from the start if you let yourself get paranoid. You can either get into a paranoid mindset, or a relaxed “don’t care” mindset. Up to you. Oh, and people never look as “obviously high” as they think they do.

Will people commit minor crimes for munchies? Sure, if it’s a group of guys and they think it’s a fun thing to do.

Well, it depends on the person, obviously. I’m sure there are people out there who would steal food to satisfy the munchies, but the worst I’ve known were a couple people who ate some of their roommates’ food without permission.

If you find one, let me know. I gained a lot of munchie-related weight when I smoked frequently.

As others have said, the paranoia varies widely from person to person. I never had any problems with paranoia, but I’ve known people who would get really paranoid under the influence. I think your personality has a lot to do with it; I’m usually pretty laid-back, and the people I’ve known with paranoia issues tended to be a little paranoid even when they were sober. Anecdotally, I’ve heard that paranoia among local pot smokers has decreased since Massachusetts decriminalized small amounts of marijuana this year.

Munchies is a negative effect of cannabis?

I thought that was the only approved effect of medical marijuana – improved appetite & reduced nausea for patients on chemotherapy, radiation, and similar treatments. What is negative about that?

Nope. Medical marijuana can be prescribed for pain relief, treatment for glaucoma, mood disorders, and insomnia, amongst other things, depending on the state.

My “negative effect” of cannabis comes from it being illegal.

What about anxiety? I know somebody who claims that her son has a prescription for medical marijuana to treat his anxiety disorder. I think she’s full of shit. Marijuana has to be the most anxiogenic substance I can possibly imagine. I completely lost all interest in using it when I was about seventeen, right about the time my anxiety disorder started manifesting itself. Two hits and I would be ready to crawl out of my skin. There’s no way it can really be used to treat anxiety, is there?

1.) In regards to munchies, a stoner might steal his roommates Captain Crunch while they are distracted, and then wander into a corner and devour the whole cereal. After eating 12-16 oz. of dry Captain Crunch, they get thirsty and wander past the roommate to get some liquids, snickering all the while. This probably happens 500+ times per day in the US somewhere.

Some stoner picking up the nearest weapon and threatening their neighbor, while they’re cooking a family bar-b-que next door, not so much. Stoners are mischievous, but they are certainly not violent unless there’s something else in their system.

2.) The only alternative to the munchies is either falling asleep before the munchies kick into high gear, or chain smoke cigarettes.

3.) Paranoia sucks, but if you stay in a “safe” environment, it usually isn’t a problem. If you freak out because you wanted a hot dog at the corner store and there happened to be a cop inside, that’s kinda your own fault.

If you’re in your own house/room, and you can still rationalize; you can convince yourself that the ComCast van down the road isn’t setting up thousands of dollars of surveillance equipment to bust you for your $25 1/8th ounce you bought that afternoon.

Pot-induced paranoia isn’t necessarily “paranoia” at all, in the sense of being afraid of some specific thing - it can take the form of general anxiety.

Some people absolutely cannot believe that anyone could be made anxious by smoking weed. I know people who, when I’ve told them about how I would sometimes get anxiety when high, just didn’t understand it. “How can that be? Weed makes you relax!” I guess they don’t realize that its effects vary wildly from person to person.

I always had mixed experiences with it. Sometimes I felt a pleasant euphoria; sometimes I felt lazy and apathetic; sometimes I felt extremely motivated and stimulated; other times I felt a dreadful panic which could linger for hours and required a milligram or more of Xanax to make go away. And sometimes it did give me genuine paranoia - I would think that my parents resented me, or that my friends actually hated me and were just pretending to like me, or other such negative ideas. Whenever I would be high around my dad, I would always suspect that he was trying to mess with my head (which he wasn’t) and I would read all sorts of things into what he said that weren’t intended.

Maybe a marijuana high relieves physical pain for some people, but it would not do that for me. If anything, it would make me more acutely aware of the pain. I would prefer opiates over even the strongest medical marijuana for pain any day.

I’m just responding to Argent’s previous post, but if you get to be a true cannabis connoisseur, there’s a difference between the indica and sativa species of pot.

If I remember right, sativa is the one that makes you mellow and kinda slow to the world. Indica gives the motivational type high, the one that makes you want to spend 4 hours cleaning your apartment, yet you’re still clear-headed and ready to do anything else that might pop up.

I’m not claiming to be a connoisseur myself, but there is definitely different strains that give different highs. It’s not all psychological.

Mood disorders? Like what? I thought pot could excbaerate (sp?) mood disorders and even trigger psychosis in some people.

The negative is that it promotes obesity by overeating. If one were to get high and eat an entire can of pringles in one sitting that’s 960 calories. Almost half your daily RDA of calories!

I have read of cancer and AIDS patients here in Oregon that would get their medical card just so they could put some weight back on. Back in my stupider days I would get really hungry and eat hotdogs with cheese and ketchup and mustard. Lots of them! It was the best ever! The next day wasn’t so fun though what with the distended tummyache. Now that I’m older and my metabolism slowed down I can’t do that any more. Pot would make it worse, I’m sure.

I’ve never understood the paranoia either, but as Argent said all and any drugs vary from person to person.

I tried it way back in the 70s when I was in school, and found it made me feel like I had just done about a shot of alcohol. No paranoia, munchies … just slightly tiddly.

I could get alcohol, and it wasnt that illegal [slap on the wrist and sent home vs jail and trial time] so I drank. I have never felt any urge to smoke - though if it was legalized I would because I now can’t drink, if I am not on pain meds, it is too many carbs for this diabetic to waste the exchanges on and smoking would let me get tiddly without having to dietarily compensate.

Don’t think I have ever lived in a medical marijuana state, so that doesn’t apply but it would have been nice when I was on chemo =)

Sure it is. As Argent Towers points out, the effects vary wildly from person to person. It may make you anxious and paranoid, but for plenty of people it’s calming and mood-stabilizing. Agitation due to Alzheimer’s Disease and PTSD I think are the two most common mood disorders listed as specific “approved conditions”, but in some states there’s room for a physician to make a case to the state about a patient’s particular condition, and whether or not they’d benefit from cannabis. I have no problem believing your friend who says her son uses cannabis to relieve anxiety.
In any case, why would you assume everyone who uses it reacts the same way you do? If everyone who smoked pot got freaky paranoid and filled with anxiety, why would anyone use it? For folks who use medical marijuana as a mood stabilizer, “mellowness” is the sought-after effect.

It’s the other way around. In my experience as a (legal) medical marijuana user, Indica strains are the best for pain relief and sleep, with a heavier “body” effect. Most available in the US are hybrids, anyway.

See above. Alzheimer’s and PTSD are the most common. Pot does not “trigger psychosis”. Choosing my words carefully, Robin Murray is… just the next proponent of this decade’s “pot makes you a communist” or “pot causes demotivational disorder” or “pot makes you a homicidal maniac and rape artist”, only now it’s “pot makes you psychotic”. The recent study that went around the UK was… flawed, to say the least. Here’s some commentary from a biased but well-cited source.