Can you overdose on marijuana?

Yes, you can overdose on marijuana (THC). Signs of overdose include nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, or acute paranoia. More here on how to address marijuana overdose and its complications.

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Although impossible to have a toxic overdose of marijuana, it is quite possible to consume more weed than necessary. When you smoke too much marijuana or eat too much pot-based food, you can manifest symptoms of ataxia/dizziness, sweating, nausea, vomiting, possible crying, and sometimes a sensation of dying. But don’t be concerned; ingesting too much marijuana is not fatal or injurious to any organs.

How do you recognize and treat symptoms of marijuana overdose? We review here. Then, we invite your questions about a marijuana overdose at the end.

Can you overdose on marijuana?

Yes and no. If you’re asking if you can overdose and die from marijuana: the answer is no, its not very likely. However, you can experience extreme anxiety (panic attacks) or psychotic reactions (where you lose touch with reality and may become paranoid) after consuming high potency marijuana strains with high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Additionally, people can and do injure themselves because of marijuana’s effects on judgment, perception, and coordination. Further, marijuana accents the effects of other drugs; this is why mixing marijuana and alcohol can lead to a high level of intoxication, risky behavior and/or intensified effects of drinking.

What happens when you overdose on marijuana?

When a temporary overdose of marijuana occurs, it is called “greening out.” It is important to understand that a temporary overdose of marijuana will not result in permanent disability or death, but can be quite common in people who have not used the drug often. The following are the symptoms of too much marijuana in the system:

  • disorientation
  • fast heart rate
  • hallucinations
  • pupil dilation
  • shaking that is hard to control, feeling cold
  • shortness of breath
  • temporary feelings of paranoia, fear and anxiety
  • vomiting and/or nausea

This phenomenon passes on its own within minutes to hours of marijuana use. If the symptoms are severe, medical attention needs to be obtained to make sure the user is closely observed for complications.

How much marijuana is too much?

It is difficult to establish marijuana potency levels, due to the variation in types of marijuana users consume. Simply put, until more refined and purified cannabinoid preparations are available, it will simply not be possible to derive a more specific or exact dosing schedule, let alone be able to predict overdose amounts. Additional factors such as age, general health, exposure to marijuana, marijuana tolerance levels, etc. contribute to an individual’s overdose level.  For example, a long-term cannabis user may require significantly larger amounts of cannabis than an initiate to achieve desired effect.

However, if you find yourself in any of these scenarios, perhaps it is time to take a break and re-evaluate your recreational marijuana usage:

1. Your health goes downhill

Long term effects of using marijuana can include reduced immune system response as well as cognitive changes in the brain. Consider also that there have been links between marijuana and brain damage, as well as other long term effects. So while you might be avoiding acute overdose, long term effects still take a toll on your physical and mental health.

2. You can’t shake that wheezing cough

You’re not likely to risk lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease like a cigarette smoker, but frequent, heavy marijuana use by smoking can lead to an irritated throat and lungs. Consider switching to vaporization or using edibles until your lungs can recover.

3. You’re blowing off your responsibilities

Being a responsible cannabis consumer means your personal use of marijuana doesn’t negatively affect fulfilling your responsibilities at work, at school, and as a parent, roommate and spouse.

4. You’re not getting high anymore

Increased tolerance can signal dependence on marijuana. And when physical dependence is present, psychological dependence may also be indicated. If you’ve stopped getting high on marijuana, it might be time to consider a break.  Dealing with psycho-emotional issues which compel use can help you avoid the need for marijuana.

Marijuana overdose help

So what can you do if you suspect you’ve OD’d on marijuana? Less serious cases of “greening out” will usually go away on their own in a few hours without treatment. Keep an eye on the person and offer fluids and rest. Watch for symptoms that warrant further medical care such as; trouble breathing, pale skin color, fast heart rate and unresponsiveness. Take the person to the nearest emergency room or call 911.

Overdose on marijuana questions

Still have questions about overdosing on marijuana? Please leave your questions below. We’ll do our best to respond to your question personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: DrugFactsWeek: Marijuana
NewHealthGuide: Can You Overdose On Marijuana?
Department of Justice: Marijuana Data Fact Sheet
Cannabis culture: Too Much Marijuana
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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