xanax versus cannabis for anxiety relief study

Cannabinoids May Relieve Anxiety Better Than Benzodiazepines

In a 2019 medical study published in the journal Cannabis And Cannabinoid Research, medical cannabis significantly reduced the use of Xanax among study participants with chronic anxiety. After 2 months, 30.1% of patients stopped taking prescribed Xanax and other benzodiazepines. After 6 months, 45.2% had stopped taking prescribed benzodiazepines. 

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Published September 23, 2019


Anxiety Relief Medical Study

  • After completing a 2-month course of medical cannabis, 30.1% of patients taking benzodiazepines discontinued their use.
  • This trend continued with a total of 44.5% of medical cannabis patients in the study discontinuing benzodiazepines after 4 months of prescribed medical cannabis use.
  • After six months of medical cannabis use, 45.2% of patients in the study had stopped using benzodiazepines.  (1)                                                                                                                                     



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Study Summary

  • Benzodiazepines are a group of pharmaceutical drugs prescribed for treating anxiety.  They have a strong sedative effect. They have several adverse effects and patients taking this class of pharmaceutical drugs often develop a dependency.
  • This medical cannabis study was a retrospective analysis of 146 patients.
  • Patients were already taking benzodiazepines prior to starting the course of medical cannabis.
  • The average age of study participants was 47 years.
  • 61% of participants were female.
  • 54% of the study participants had used cannabis prior to the study. (2  


  • Interestingly, the distribution of cannabinoids (CBD vs. THC) in the medical cannabis did not have a correlation with patients who stopped using benzodiazepines vs those who did not stop using benzodiazepines.




  • Multiple studies have shown that THC may cause anxiety in some consumers while CBD tends to have an anti-anxiety effect.
  • CBD has been shown to decrease the anxiety-causing effects of THC when both CBD and THC are consumed together.
  • It is believed that the higher THC to CBD ratio of modern cannabis varieties have led to anxiety-causing effects in some cannabis consumers. (3)


The study authors conclude that a large percentage of the study participants stopped using benzodiazepines such as Xanax in conjunction with starting a course of medical cannabis.  The authors urge further research into the medical benefits of cannabis.




How well does CBD work for anxiety? Find out the exact benefits of CBD for anxiety here.


cannabidiol guide to anxiety benefits based on latest medical studies recent to 2020


Download The Study



Purcell C, Davis A, Moolman N, Taylor SM. Reduction of Benzodiazepine Use in Patients Prescribed Medical Cannabis. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2019;4(3):214‐218. Published 2019 Sep 23. doi:10.1089/can.2018.0020

Study Authors

S. Mark Taylor

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