Even with all of its perceived benefits, cannabis consumption has its drawbacks. And although they’re nothing to be particularly alarmed about, these aspects can dampen the recreational experience.

We all have that one friend who feels dizzy after eating edibles. They’re the same friend who collapses into the couch after a couple hits from a pipe or joint. So it makes you wonder: “What’s the deal here? Can weed make you pass out?”.

In this article, we’ll provide an answer to this question. And later on, we’ll give you some tips on how to prevent that dizzy, uncomfortable feeling from arising in the first place.

Why Do We Get Dizzy?

Before we get into the meat of the topic, we’ll first address an important distinction between a fainting spell and blacking out. It’s understandable why people confuse the two, but they have their differences.

Difference Between Fainting and Blacking Out

Here’s a simple, clear-cut distinction: when you black out, you go through a brief period of memory loss. Such episodes commonly happen after a night of alcohol consumption, hence the term “blackout drunk”. According to experts, people usually black out once blood alcohol levels reach 0.15%.

When you black out from drinking, your brain malfunctions momentarily and stops creating memories during those moments. But in most cases, memories return through certain cues and reminders.

Blackouts also happen from concussions and seizures. For the latter, memories tend to return within 30 minutes, or after that postictal state of confusion.

Fainting, on the other hand, is a loss of consciousness caused by a drop in blood pressure (hypotension). Because there isn’t enough blood pumping through the brain, your body subsequently shuts off.

Certain conditions like epilepsy, internal bleeding, and heart conditions like arrhythmia can cause fainting. Likewise, it can happen from run-of-the-mill occurrences like standing up too quickly.

Why Do We Get Dizzy?

Why Does Cannabis Make Us Feel Lightheaded?

This is where things become a bit more complex. Though we don't understand the relationship between cannabis and lightheadedness completely, it involves certain activities from within our circulatory system.

Cannabis and Blood Pressure

Veterans in the recreational cannabis game will remember their first few smoking experiences wherein they felt faint after imbibing. Experts have found a connection between cannabis and blood pressure rise, particularly during those first few hits. There’s also a potential increase in heart rate to consider[1].

However, researchers are trying to determine if, once the body builds a tolerance to THC, cannabis may actually lower blood pressure[2]. A 2018 study supports this hypothesis[3], invoking cannabis' potential vasodilatory effects. In simpler terms, it causes a widening of blood vessels. It’s also the plausible reason cannabis users turn red-eyed after a period of smoking. But these aren’t definitive conclusions, and more research is needed.

How Common Is Fainting From Cannabis Use?

You may have heard numerous stories about people fainting from smoking weed, which sounds off some alarm bells. However, the straight answer is: fainting spells aren’t a common occurrence when smoking or eating edibles. Moreover, the fine line between fainting and being overwhelmingly stoned may cause some people to recount their experience as the former when it was really the latter.

Other Cannabis Side Effects

However, aside from fainting, there are other side effects to be aware of when choosing to partake in cannabis:

Paranoia

Studies have linked cannabis use with bouts with paranoia. This is a commonly reported side effect of using THC-rich strains.

Psychosis

THC impairment is also linked to momentary episodes of psychosis in those predisposed to the condition.

Dry mouth

Otherwise known as “cotton mouth”, it’s a common side effect wherein the body doesn’t produce enough saliva. Not a severe side effect, but annoying nonetheless.

Memory interruptions

A classic stoner stereotype, but sometimes valid, memory interruptions can be irritating for those trying to remain functional or productive.

Chest pain

According to studies[4], people with heart ailments are more predisposed to experiencing this side effect. 

Addiction

While the potential for this is on the lower side, cannabis dependence is still a possibility, especially among chronic users.

How To Prevent Dizziness From Cannabis Use

So, you’re one of those unfortunate souls who feels dizzy after smoking. Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. Here are some helpful tips to make these spells more manageable.

  • Try a Different Strain

If you feel like fainting after smoking weed, you’re likely consuming too much THC.

If you experience dizziness from a certain strain, switch things up. Find ones that aren’t as potent. And as a pro-tip, go with strains that have a balanced THC to CBD ratio. Cannabidiol is known to mediate THC’s effects, which could help with your dizzy spells.

  • Eat Something Before You Smoke

Cannabis’ effects vary from one person to another. For some people, the hit feels much stronger on an empty stomach, similar to alcohol.

To be on the safe side, grab a bite before your smoking sessions. You don’t need to fill your stomach with food. However, eat enough to tide you over for the next few hours.

  • Change Your Consumption Method

People tend to feel dizzy after eating edibles. This is unsurprising given the more potent and extended nature of an edibles high. It’s like being on a four-hour carnival ride that isn’t stopping any time soon.

If edibles are causing your dizzy spells, find another consumption method that suits you. Smoke a bowl, light up a joint, or do bong rips to see which you’re most comfortable with.

But if you’re loyal to your edibles, consider microdosing. Limit your intake to 2.5 mg of THC to retain the desired effects without becoming overwhelmed.

  • Go Slow and Steady

Sometimes, dizzy spells are caused by that sudden influx of THC into the body. Your system isn’t able to process it right away, and in turn, it elicits an unbalanced reaction.

Just like our advice with edibles, start things slow. Pace yourself. If you’re a rookie around veterans, you don’t need to catch up. Move at a speed you’re comfortable with. You’ll thank yourself later.

How To Prevent Dizziness From Cannabis Use
  • Start Your Session Sitting Down

Especially if you’re a first-timer dealing with a foreign substance like THC, you’ll want to be in control of the situation as much as you can.

In this case, it’s better to start your smoking session sitting down. For one, you’re a lot more stable when plopped comfortably on a chair. And in case you do get dizzy, you lessen the risk of falling over and hurting yourself.

Cannabis and Dizziness: Should You Be Worried?

A little bit of dizziness is fairly common when smoking cannabis. Even the most experienced recreational users go through such spells from time to time. And as we’ve explained, cannabis affects everyone differently, so it’s about finding what works for you.

By following our aforementioned tips, you can prevent these episodes from occurring. But if cases are severe, you might want to look into other possible health issues at play.

External Resources:
  1. Cannabis Use and Blood Pressure Levels: United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005–2012 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  2. Role of the central autonomic nervous system in the hypotension and bradycardia induced by (-)-Δ9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com
  3. Frontiers | A Systematic Review of the Complex Effects of Cannabinoids on Cerebral and Peripheral Circulation in Animal Models | Physiology https://www.frontiersin.org
  4. Marijuana and heart health: What you need to know - Harvard Health https://www.health.harvard.edu
Disclaimer:
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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