Get help today 888-744-0069 or sign up for 24/7 text support.
American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

Do Women Pay a Higher Price for Smoking Weed?

Tetrahydrocannibinol, better known as THC, is the most potent component of marijuana. It’s the chemical that causes feelings of euphoria and makes users feel “high.”

When someone uses marijuana, THC quickly travels into the bloodstream, through the lungs, and on to the brain. This process is completed within a few minutes, but the high can last for several hours.

Though you might think THC affects everyone the same, research has proven otherwise time and again. However, THC tolerance studies have only been conducted on males, thanks to their notoriously stable hormones. And that’s where Professor Rebecca Craft decided to start.

Women and Weed

Craft and her Washington State University research team set out to examine and compare levels of THC sensitivity between males and females. They discovered that modern forms of highly concentrated marijuana are likely more dangerous for women – thanks to the hormone estrogen.

Groundbreaking details of their National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded study were recently published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

In both males and females, effects of THC are seen in the parts of the brain that control hormones. However, for women, this specific neurological area also determines the sequence of the menstrual cycle.

Previous studies have already shown that women are more prone to cannabis abuse and dependence than men. Additionally, withdrawal symptoms of irritability, sleep disruption and decreased food intake are more severe in women. And to top it off, women also have a higher likelihood of relapsing after quitting the drug.

Study Specifics

Data gathered from the Washington State University study was collected by using male and female lab rats. After 10 days of regular THC exposure, the females showed a much higher tolerance. The doses were even adjusted, since the researchers knew that the female subjects were more THC-sensitive.

After making adjustments, the dose of THC Craft’s team administered to female lab rats ended up being the lowest dosage anyone in the scientific community has ever used to induce tolerance. And, when it was all said and done, the females still developed a higher tolerance than their more heavily dosed male counterparts.

The effects of THC are worse when a woman is ovulating. During this time, there’s a very clear spike in drug sensitivity that occurs when estrogen levels have already peaked and are beginning to decline. Craft believes this spike is responsible for the irregular menstrual cycles marijuana use is known to cause among women. What’s more, according to Craft, it can take several months of THC abstinence for the menstrual cycle to return to normal.


Learn more about helping an addicted loved one

Google Images

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.