By Ryan Najjar

If you grew up somewhere with conservative drug views, you probably got a good talking-to about marijuana's supposed dangers. During these warnings, it's likely your teachers or parents brought up the potential of overdosing. The second that point comes up in discussions about weed nowadays, arguments are sure to get flung back and forth like cafeteria food in a high school movie.

It doesn't have to be that way, though. There are clear answers, but we have to be aware of how we're using the term "overdose". After we clear that up, we just have to know how much is too much of a good thing.

Can You Overdose on Cannabis?

While you might associate overdosing only with drugs, you can overdose on basically anything. Had too much coffee? You could overdose. Too much water? Overhydration is a very real threat. Being able to overdose on something, though, does not mean the overdose is lethal. To keep it simple, as is the case with any substance, there is such a thing as too much cannabis. In that sense, an overdose is possible, but a lethal dose is very hard to reach—if at all.

What is a Lethal Dose of Cannabis?

How hard to reach, you wonder? Well, to hit the pearly gates, you'd need to smoke about 1,500 pounds[1] (680kg) of cannabis in a blistering 15 minutes. If you're trying to do the maths on how many joints that would take, don't bother. The effects of the smoke itself, and smoking to that aggressive degree, would kill you long before the THC would.

You can ingest more THC with edibles since there's no smoke, but there's more to consider. You'd still need to consume 50 grams of pure THC[2] to have a 50% chance of dying as an adult man. Even with the most potent edibles, you're more likely to die from the excessive sugar and salt consumption.

Cannabis Buds

How to Spot When You're Too High

So no, you won't die. However, you're not out of the woods yet. As many first-year university students will tell you, bad stuff can definitely happen when you smoke too much. To play off the old expression, what doesn't kill you makes you really uncomfortable. There are specific discomforts to look out for, too, with some being more obvious than others.

  • 😟 Anxiety
  • 🤢 Nausea
  • 😵 Dizziness
  • 😨 Panic
  • 😧 Paranoia
  • 😕 Confusion
  • 🥵 Excessive perspiration

If you're familiar with weed's effects, fatigue is probably one of the first symptoms you'd expect. There's a difference between melting into the couch, of course, and falling asleep standing still. If you're feeling closer to the latter, you might need to give in to temptation and sleep it off. Thankfully, no matter how much you smoke, the effects will only linger for a few hours at most. And hey, who doesn't like a good 4–12-hour nap once in a while?

Speaking of symptoms you could predict, impaired movement is a good one to mention. While it's not nearly as bad as what other substances cause, you'll still be slumping and stumbling around. Forget being able to drive; even walking will be an interesting challenge. You'll also feel your heartbeat getting faster and faster, with your blood pressure dropping in turn.

Lastly, perhaps the least pleasant of the symptoms, anxiety and paranoia are very likely to strike when you're too high. Everyone's brain works differently, of course, but THC has been proven[3] to put certain people in those mindsets, and it only gets more likely as you take more.

How to Overcome Being Too High

As we mentioned before, these effects aren't ever too long-lasting, and you can combat them easily. If you have the time and opportunity, taking a snooze is the most foolproof way to get through the high. If not, you still have some strategies at hand. Getting some food in your belly, along with hydrating, will also help to ease your tension and make the high a bit more bearable.

What do you do if you have neither on hand? Well, unfortunately there's no choice but to ride it out. If you're feeling too paranoid and anxious to interact, just remove yourself from the crowd and get comfortable. From there, find your way home if you're not already there (do NOT drive yourself), get some blankets, and take some deep breaths. Listen to some calming music if you can, and let it guide you to sleep.

And above all, remember that it's temporary. It'll definitely be uncomfortable, but it won't last forever, and you'll be fine by the next day.

How Long Does a Cannabis High Last?
How Long Does a Cannabis High Last?

Smoking Too Much Weed Isn't Lethal, but There Are Side Effects

As it goes with all good things, you can always end up having too much. Just because too much cannabis won't kill you doesn't mean it won't be a bad time. We don't want to feel hyper-fatigued and paranoid, and we're sure you don't either. With that in mind, just make sure to enjoy the electric lettuce, like everything else, in moderation.

Some final tips: If you live somewhere that sells legal cannabis, talk with the budtenders at your dispensary or coffeeshop. They've heard every praise and grievance about their products.

If you want to know whether a few hits of a strain will have you curled up in the corner, just ask! Based on your smoking habits, they can recommend you something with the perfect THC content. If you aren't buying from a dispensary, though, and don't know the THC content, just have a little at first. If those hits go over smoothly, have a few more, and feel it out from there. It's that simple. Trust your body, trust your instincts, and you'll never fail.

External Resources:
  1. Here's how much marijuana it would take to kill you | The Independent | The Independent
  2. Can You Overdose on Weed?
  3. Cannabinoid-related agents in the treatment of anxiety disorders: current knowledge and future perspectives - PMC
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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