Originally posted on 5th August 2015, Updated on 31st January 2020
Until recently, weed was commonly thought of as a ‘drug’. But, with cannabis legalization spreading rapidly, that view is quickly changing. Still, weed is a schedule I controlled substance according to many agencies including, the United States DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). And we all know, you can overdose from a drug, right?
So, that brings up an interesting question - can you overdose on weed? THC deaths or overages aren’t often heard of, for a good reason. The reason being that overdoing marijuana is difficult to do in general. With that said, let’s find out why weed overdoses are so rare and what you can do if you accidentally do over-consume.
First thing’s first - Can you overdose on marijuana?
According to experts, a weed overdose is highly unlikely, if not impossible - and never, fatal. Yet in certain rare cases, consuming too much marijuana can still occur. But, why is an actual overdose so unrealistic? To understand the complex answer...let’s educate ourselves on what an overdose actually is.
By definition, an overdose is when any person takes a big enough amount of a drug, for it to become toxic. Even at ‘toxic’ levels, that doesn’t always equal fatal results, or death. What complicates the answer to ‘can you overdose on weed’ is the fact that the amount of THC it takes to become an overage’, remains unknown.
To re-cover the basics - the cannabinoid, Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is a compound found in cannabis that produces psychoactive effects, known as the ‘high’. But, currently, even doctors are unsure of how much THC it takes to be considered toxic. Not to mention, THC’s effects differ from individual to individual. Depending on metabolism, body types and even stomach content.
So, what do the facts say? According to a highly credible source, the Centers for Disease Control - there have been no fatalities linked to weed. Even more, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) approves the same statistic.
What experts also agree on, is the wide range of effects that weed provides. While also concurring that at high doses, THC’s effects can become somewhat debilitating.
Rather than ‘overdose’ symptoms, researchers are targeting a few uncomfortable side-effects that THC can cause.To many new users, these undesirable or negative effects might actually feel like you’ve dosed too much. Now, we’ll cover these symptoms so you can prepare enough to avoid them.
Negative side-effects of consuming marijuana
Similar to any indulgence, like food, alcohol or sweets...you can always overdo it. With weed, it’s no different. Too much of anything causes negative side effects.
To be aware and cautious - here are a few possible side effects from consuming too much THC.
- Impairing your mental state. Psychosis, paranoia or high anxiety is no stranger to weed users. Many strains can heighten these effects, or at certain levels they can increase. With a THC overage however, users will feel additionally extreme episodes. In some cases, high levels of THC can even cause hallucinations. Even worse, the psychosis can last longer than it normally takes to metabolize THC. Confusion, delusion, even fear and panic attacks, can also occur with over-consumption.
- Impairing your physical state. When overdoing your dose, increased amounts of THC can take couch-lock effects to all new levels. Meaning, those who over-consume can feel lethargic like no other. Users may lose coordination, and feel an overall decrease in muscle strength. And, it’s a good thing you probably always have Visine on hand, too. An overindulgence of weed tends to produce extreme bloodshot eyes.
- Impairing your judgement. In addition to making users feel different, too much weed can also impair judgement and control. Like, slurring your speech, or experiencing slower reaction times. High levels of THC can also make it harder to focus and can often cause memory loss.
Keep in mind, it takes more than a normal joint or dab rip to reach these effects,. In fact, these negative effects from marijuana ‘overdoses’ usually only occur when smoking large amounts at one time. Beyond impairing your mental and physical state, or judgement, additional effects include headaches, vomiting and dizziness. Consequently, due to THC’s interaction with the cardiovascular system users may also experience heart palpitations, the lowering of blood pressure or a rise in heart rate.
Blood sugar can also reduce when consuming unusually high amounts of THC. If you didn’t know, THC helps to regulate blood sugar levels, overall. For new users, or with higher intakes, a ‘green-out’ could occur. This colorful type of episode comes from dropping sugar levels. A ‘green-out’ causes pale skin, weakness and nausea.
Generally, any side-effect of consuming too much weed lasts 3-4 hours. Unless, you take the THC dose orally via a tincture, or marijuana edibles. Similar to consuming an edible for their long-lasting positive effects - the negative side-effects can last longer when ingesting orally, too. Due to THC being absorbed through the digestive system, versus inhaling.
So, if you’ve over consumed and are want to reverse the damage...what can you do? Let’s take a look at a few steps you can take to lower a high.
I’m too high and feel unwell... What can I do?
To reduce negative effects from over doing THC...unfortunately, you have to play a waiting game. Time, and patience is the number one method for feeling better and to reduce anxiety. Relaxing and soothing settings can help while waiting out the symptoms, as they occur. Some recommend taking a shower or bath, to reduce effects. Going on a walk for fresh air is also recommended but do be careful, with either option. Especially if you’re in an unfamiliar area, or feel a loss of physical control.
While medicine won’t help, good old fashioned h2o just might. By hydrating, you can focus on simple actions like sipping and swallowing. This can help take the edge or focus off any negative thoughts or feelings that might occur. Drinking water will also cure a dry mouth, that’s likely to appear with high levels of THC. But do avoid drinking alcohol to quench your thirst, or curb any unwell symptoms. As alcohol is proven to increase THC counts in the bloodstream.
If you feel weak, nauseous or are pale from low blood sugar - try sugary drinks. Like juice, soda without caffeine or sugar packed munchies will work, too.
Lastly, some say that black pepper comes in handy for a case of too much weed, too. Black pepper is known to help in fighting paranoia, or anxiety. By simply sniffing, or eating black peppercorns you should feel calmer, more quickly in the case of over-consuming, marijuana.
Use but don’t abuse - Consume safely
Above all, THC provides a wide range of effects. These effects are often positive for medical and recreational users alike - unless, overdone. Like any pleasure - it’s all about moderation with marijuana. So, when asked... can you overdose on weed? You know, a weed overdose has never occured. And that, a marijuana overdose in general, is highly unlikely. Not to mention, totally avoidable with the tips you’ve learned today. There are a number of ways to safely use weed for relief, and delight, too. Just remember - you can use, but don’t abuse!