Can You Overdose on Cannabis?

27 February 2020
Is it possible to consume so much marijuana that you'll experience an overdose? Read on to find out now...
27 February 2020
6 min read
Can You Overdose on Cannabis?

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  • 1. Can you overdose on marijuana?
  • 2. How much cannabis is considered too much?
  • 3. How does a cannabis overdose feel like?
  • 4. What to do if you experience a cannabis overdose?

As the US government cracked down on vaping businesses in 2019, there was a lot of commotion. Flavors were prohibited due to severe illnesses, and rumors about cannabis spread like wildfire. People complained about lung issues, and while scores of people were hospitalized, there were quite a few deaths reported.

Although the government deemed that the vaping flavors were at fault, reports suggested that the culprits were THC cartridges that were brought off the black market. Now, don’t be quick to assume that THC is fatal – in fact, the rumors are totally baseless – but many people panicked and blamed cannabis anyway.

Can you overdose on cannabis? This is a question many people asked at that point. The short answer is, no, you can’t, but how do we explain the fatalities that occurred due to the THC cartridges? Well, investigators from CDC revealed that the deaths were due to chemicals present in the vaping products.

Most people that died were suspected to have vaped THC cartridges filled with high amounts of vitamin E acetate. Due to cannabis being unavailable, unscrupulous dealers had used vitamin E acetate to thicken the cannabis oil. Although vitamin E acetate was used previously, it was used in smaller quantities and the issue never surfaced. However, the moment it was used in large amounts with a goal to cheat customers buying products in an illegal manner, the issue became extremely serious resulting in deaths.

As you can see, this has nothing to do with THC. Basically, cannabis has never been fatal and will never be as long as you’re using the real stuff. There are many synthetic products imitating the real deal in the market, so the onus is on you to source your buds from a trusted dispensary.

Can you overdose on marijuana?

Despite many heated debates on the subject, experts reach one conclusion when it comes to overdosing on marijuana. They agree that it’s extremely unlikely to experience an overdose if you’re using pure cannabis.

Many researchers have conducted tests and THC has faced the heat constantly. THC – tetrahydrocannabinol – is a cannabinoid or chemical compound present in marijuana. It is natural and has the ability to bind to the receptors found in the human body. Although it has a few side effects including dry eyes, dry mouth and nausea at times when the dosage is too high, it has never been responsible for overdose.

Consider the statistics if you find it hard to believe. In the US alone, cannabis is the most common drug that’s used by more than half the population! And, now that medical cannabis is legal in most states, many states are prepping up to legalize even recreational cannabis. According to the statistics presented by NIDA in 2017, at least 1 among 5 adults claim to have used cannabis.

Simply put, a huge percentage of the population uses cannabis, and even if the chances of overdose were to be one in a million users, at least dozens would have died. However, nothing of the sort has happened because you cannot overdose on marijuana.

Having said that, THC isn’t completely harmless either. If you consume high amounts, the effects will certainly not be desirable. In extreme cases, you may even hallucinate and experience breathlessness. There have been numerous cases where teens that couldn’t handle the potency of dabs were admitted to hospitals because they couldn’t stop vomiting.

How much cannabis is considered too much?

Well, the answer to this differs from one individual to another. This is because cannabis affects everyone differently depending on their rate of metabolism, weight, and height. A joint usually consists of about 1 gram and 2-3 joints a day is fine if you’re an experienced user. Note that this amount is okay if you’re smoking strains with low potency. However, do not compare this with concentrates. 1 gram of cannabis bud is not equal to a gram of concentrate!

Thus, if you want to know the answer, you must experiment yourself because even scientists don’t know the exact answer to this question. Try consuming or smoking cannabis and keep a tab on the number of grams you’re using. The moment you feel the psychotropic effects overpowering you, it simply means that you’ve exceeded your limit.

How does a cannabis overdose feel like?

As mentioned already, it’s extremely unlikely to overdose on cannabis. And, that’s true when it comes to regular buds. However, concentrates are completely different and the side effects will not be pleasant. It’s easy to go over your regular dosage when you’re using concentrates like dabs, for instance. Regular buds contain a mix of cannabinoids present in the plant whereas concentrates are extracts consisting of resin and loads of THC.

If you abuse THC, you may experience psychoactive symptoms. Or, you may pass out and fall asleep due to cannabis’s sedative qualities. Also, natural THC is most definitely better than synthetic THC even when the molecular structures are the same. Synthetic THC can produce seizures and even heart-attack in rare cases.

In any case, if you’ve smoked too many dabs or shatter or rosin or any other concentrate, it’s possible that you hallucinate. Although the effects can be temporary, it can scare the life out of some people especially beginners.

What to do if you experience a cannabis overdose?

So, it’s a Saturday night and you’ve smoked more than you can handle? Perhaps it’s a friend that needs help? No matter what the case, the first thing you need to remember is to not panic. It’s easier said than done but the negative effects will last only for a while.

Usually, those that consume edibles may experience a nauseous feeling, and that happens because THC is metabolized a bit differently when you consume it instead of smoking it. It takes a while for the THC to metabolize after it hits the stomach lining whereas it takes only a few seconds for your salivary glands to absorb THC when you smoke a joint.

Also, edibles are slow to work and this may make you falsely believe that it’s not working. Often, you reach for another cannabis cookie, and before you know it everything is awry. It’s also possible to experience breathlessness and a rapid increase in your heartbeat.

If it’s a friend, you can make him/her comfortable by reminding them that they will be okay once the effects diminish. However, the problem is that they may not be in a position to comprehend what you’re saying. At this point, it’s sometimes easy to assume that your heart is aching or a feeling that you’re about to experience a heart attack.

If this is happening to you or a friend, consult a physician immediately. Even if you reside in a state where recreational marijuana is illegal, you can still head to the hospital. As mentioned earlier, the negative effects are temporary and last no longer than a few hours but few users also experience vomiting that can be controlled. If there’s a rapid reduction of fluids in the body, you will face other complications, which is why it makes perfect sense to go to the doctor immediately.

All said and done, cannabis is an amazing herb with very special qualities. Treat it with respect and you’ll be fine, but never abuse it because it will simply ruin the experience and even scare you to such a point that you may never try the herb again!