Gender Bender: Does Weed Affect Men and Women Differently?

Soft Secrets
20 Jul 2020

Does he smoke all your weed? Does she look more confident than you while under the influence? The effects of recreational smoking weed may be different for everyone, and while gender is still greatly uncharted territory―it may be a factor of significance.

According to the available data, about half of Americans have tried weed, with 22 million saying they have smoked pot at least once in the last month. Three-quarters of those pot smokers are men, so, as it turns out when it comes to smoking marijuana, men are outperforming women by a landslide.

However, with the legalization of medical and recreational weed in some states, the weed culture is slowly changing and the gap between men’s use of weed and women's is increasingly shrinking, especially when it comes to medical cannabis. With this change, researchers have found that cannabis just like other drugs may affect women and men differently.

For years, health professionals have been trying to resolve the mystery behind the question of how females respond to weed and how they might differ from men in that aspect. A recent study observing the phenomenon between the sexes to find the difference in how cannabinoids affect women and men, specifically in neurotransmitter and hormone functions, found rather interesting results.

Smoking Weed Effects: How it’s Different Gender-wise

How does weed affect women?

Researchers have discovered that women appear to be more sensitive to cannabinoids and are more likely to develop an addiction to the drug. A 2015 study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that women are demonstrating stronger withdrawal symptoms such as gastrointestinal pain, anxiety, and irritation, showering an overall higher level of discomfort than men.

Women, however, have a ‘better high’ and increased sensation of confidence after using the drug. The brain production of dopamine―the neurochemical also known as "happy hormone" is sex-dependent and consequently might also influence the cannabinoid-induced feelings of "reward" and  "pleasure." 

Studies conducted on rats show that the levels of estradiol, the hormone that modulates the endocannabinoid system and then promotes production whose feedback then influences estradiol production―are notably higher than those in males. Female rats have more sensitive receptors than male rats in key areas of the brain related to control of social behavior, control of movement, and filtering of sensory input. Other studies have shown that female pot smokers are more likely to suffer memory loss and visual impairment than male cannabis users are.

How does cannabis affect men?

Scientists have discovered that Cannabinoid receptor type 1 receptor availability is lower in males, resulting in effects and usage patterns widely different than those in females. The low level of Cbd 1 receptors is probably the scientific reason why men need to consume weed in greater amounts and at higher rates than women do.

Unlike women who tend to use cannabis for stress relief, men need larger amounts of cannabis to enhance the sensation and the ‘rewarding’ feeling. Men also don’t need weed tolerance breaks and tend to experience milder withdrawal symptoms than women.

On the gloomier side, high levels of THC may result in decreased production of testosterone, plus men tend to have a higher prevalence of personality disorders. Men have also demonstrated a higher susceptibility to appetite stimulation after cannabis use. So, gentlemen, next time the munchies kick in and you end up eating half the In-N-Out Burger menu, blame it on your gender.

Uncharted Territory

A number of other studies have found various areas that show smoking weed generates similar effects among both sexes, such as impulsivity, stress, cognition, learning, and reward memory. 

Still, when it comes to discovering all of the sex-dependent effects of cannabis use, science still has a long way to come. The preliminary scientific data helps understand the potential difference in the usage patterns of pot among women and men. While controlled humans studies are still fairly limited, anecdotal evidence claims men show more compulsive use of cannabis than women. However, this hasn’t stopped women to gain some leadership roles within the cannabis industry.

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