Can You Overdose On Marijuana?

woman smokes marijuana

Many people are rushing to give marijuana a try, whether it be to relieve everyday stress or improve a medical condition. Medical marijuana is generally considered a safe alternative and complement to traditional medical treatments, but it doesn't come without side effects, albeit very mild ones. If you're asking "can you overdose on marijuana", the simple answer is not likely.

Technically, an overdose means that you consume more of a drug than intended, but traditionally, people think of death when they think of an overdose. No one has ever died simply from smoking too much weed. Many newcomers to cannabis consumption have heard horror stories about their friends having "bad trips," but this isn't normally the case.

Can A Marijuana Overdose Be Fatal?

To determine safe doses of substances, researchers test them on animals to determine effects before they are tested on humans. Many people have questioned the validity of these tests and their ability to predict results in humans, but federal agencies continue to use this information. Researches denote a median lethal dose (LD50) to measure the amount of a substance needed to kill 50% of a tested population.

The LD50 of cannabis is "around 1:20,000 or 1:40,000" meaning you'd have to 1,500 pounds of cannabis to overdose. That's roughly 20,000 to 40,000 joints with at least 0.9 grams of marijuana. Even if you are vaping cartridge after cartridge of 95 percent THC distillate throughout the day, you aren't likely to experience a fatal marijuana overdose. A person would have to consume an impossible amount of marijuana in order to suffer deadly effects. An illegal substance like cocaine only requires a median dose of 1.2 grams for fatal consequences. Opioids also have a dangerously low lethal dose.

Opioids suppress areas in the brain that control breathing and blood circulation. Alcohol poisoning works in a similar way when there is too much alcohol in your blood. These areas that control the autonomic nervous system are primarily located in the brain stem. Cannabinoid receptors are more commonly found in the cerebellum, hippocampus, and basal ganglia, not the lower brainstem. Instead, these cannabinoid receptors are found all throughout your body and regulate your appetite, pain sensitivity, memory, and mood.

What Are The Potential Negative Effects Of Marijuana Use?

Depending on a person's metabolism, frequency of use, and potency of product, everyone's cannabis experience will be different. Some marijuana strains are meant to energize and uplift you, while others can sedate you to relieve pain and inflammation. Without proper cannabis education, a first-time user can have an uncomfortable experience. With cannabis use on the rise, it's important to look out for these symptoms associated with consuming too much marijuana:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of balance
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Confusion
  • Lapses in memory
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate

Marijuana can negatively affect people who are under emotional stress, suffer from extreme mood disorders or have a severe, underlying condition. Even heavy and chronic users can experience anxiety, paranoia, and panic attacks. If a person is hallucinating, they may feel extremely frightful leading to increased breathing and heart rate, and erratic behavior. In one extreme case, a first-time cannabis user jumped to his death after eating a 65 mg THC cookie in a short amount of time. This case does not answer the question: can you overdose on marijuana. This accident only points out that marijuana isn't entirely risk-free.

How To Avoid Experiencing Negative Effects When Consuming Marijuana?

When purchasing marijuana, don't hesitate to ask your budtender for advice. It's best to do your own research, but any expert advice helps. Pay attention to the cannabinoid content. It's recommended to start off with low doses of cannabis (2.5 to 5 mg of THC) for new users. Additionally, cannabidiol (CBD) has all of the therapeutic benefits of THC without the high.

Edibles can be especially potent and have a delayed effect. Edibles are metabolized in the liver where THC converts to 11-hydroxy-THC, which is known to produce stronger and longer-lasting effects on the body than inhaled THC. You may also experience a negative reaction to edibles if you haven't had much to eat that day. No matter what you do, do not operate heavy machinery or a vehicle when under the influence of marijuana.

Mixing substances with cannabis is extremely dangerous. In some cases, black market cannabis has been laced with illicit substances like cocaine or PCP. Additionally, people seek out synthetic marijuana, known as spice or K2, as an alternative to cannabis. Synthetic marijuana is a misnomer and contains different chemicals that can cause a life-threatening overdose. When mixing cannabis with alcohol, THC concentrations increase in your bloodstream which can lead to loss of balance and vomiting.

Negative symptoms of consuming too much cannabis are temporary. Symptoms usually go away within a few hours (or more) depending on how often you consume weed and what type of product you consumed. Some states are adopting THC limits and enacting strict labeling regulations for products and edibles with multiple doses. Safe cannabis use can prevent marijuana overdose symptoms. If you do happen to experience symptoms associated with marijuana overconsumption, don't panic and wait it out.