Marijuana Overdose: Is it Really Possible to Die from Cannabis?
You can overdose on drugs like painkillers or tranquilizers, especially if you’re mixing them with alcohol. But, when it comes to cannabis, it’s quite a different story.
Drug overdose is on the rise.
According to the statistics, 64,000 Americans died from drug overdose in 2016, both illicit and prescription drugs. Also, at least 2458 Canadians died from an opioid-related overdose. These deaths are most commonly caused by heroin and benzodiazepines (the group anti-anxiety prescription medications like Ativan and Xanax).
No one has ever died from a marijuana overdose. In fact, there is not a record of a person in this world who overdosed on marijuana, ever.
Of course, there are certainly some unpleasant things that could happen to you if you take too much marijuana, driving difficulties for one.
If you smoke or eat too much weed, you’ll probably get goofy, sleepy or paranoid (which will even feel like dying).
When it comes to weed, there is a saying that has stood the test of time:
Weed you can overdo, but cannot overdose.
Let me elaborate.
The scientific explanation
The receptors for most drugs are located in the brainstem, where we control essential functions like breathing.
If we take extremely high doses of these types of drugs, the first effect is the lack of oxygen, which prompts irregular breathing, which leads to poor blood circulation and possibly death.
Taking just a little bit too much of the drug can lead to severe consequences, even death.
Marijuana is different.
Unlike the opioids, cannabinoid receptors are located all over our body but do not interfere with important functions such as breathing. In fact, they are located in the brain (but not in the brain stem), tissues, organs… Therefore, marijuana and its substances do not lead to lack of oxygen.
Since cannabinoid receptors are located in the central nervous system they may cause low blood pressure and short-term memory loss, increased heart rate, impact motor skills and a few other side effects.
So, to conclude — there is no such thing as cannabis poisoning.
Is there a deathly dose of marijuana?
The lethal dose of cannabis is theoretically elusive. It’s simple as that. No one on this earth can consume the amounts of cannabis which would lead to death.
But, let’s see how much weed would be lethal.
Can you overdose by smoking weed?
According to Colorado Pot Guide, a person would have to take 40,000 times more weed than usual to actually die from it. That means you would have to take 1,500 pounds of cannabis within 15 minutes in order to overdose.
In other words, you’ll have to smoke between 20 and 40,000 above average size joints (with at least 0.9 grams of weed) in a quarter of an hour to die.
And we can all agree that it’s practically impossible to consume that amount of cannabis in such a short time.
Even if you do manage to smoke that amount of marijuana in 15 minutes, you would probably die from carbon monoxide poisoning, not the cannabinoid poisoning.
Can you overdose on dabs?
A lot of us were interested in this question at some point, but in this instance, the doubt is fair enough, since dabs are much more potent than marijuana buds.
The same goes here, you will have to take more dabs than you can even imagine in 15 minutes.
And the thing is, people usually get too high after just a few hits (sometimes even one). There is no way someone can consume hundreds of pounds of dubs in such short time span.
Can you overdose on edibles?
When it comes to edibles, it’s a little bit of a different story but you still can’t overdose. Even if you do take too much edibles and feel like dying — you won’t. The feeling will go away.
You would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times more marijuana than usual. No one can eat that much food, not even edibles.
The most usual problem with edibles is that it takes more time to feel the effects when compared to smoking.
When you smoke a joint, the THC goes straight into your bloodstream.
When you consume an edible, it goes to your stomach and takes much more time for the digestion process to start.
That’s why most people don’t feel the effects right away, so they take more. And once THC kicks in, you’ve already taken too much.
This can be a very uncomfortable experience. You could feel more anxious, even paranoid, not being able to move properly. But, if that happens, just try to stay as calm as possible, take deep breaths and keep in mind that it will all go away.
We can’t overdose on marijuana itself, however, we can die as a result of other circumstances while consuming cannabis.
For instance, driving while being very high on marijuana can lead to a car crash, which is sometimes fatal, but even then we cannot say for sure that it was all because of cannabis.
There have been some reports in the press on marijuana-related deaths. A woman was shot to death by her husband after he used cannabis edibles in Colorado. A guy killed himself after having five times more edibles than recommended. I mean, these things certainly do happen, but we still don’t know all the circumstances. Was there alcohol or any other drug involved?
What we should all keep in mind is that marijuana-related deaths are caused by actions taken while accidentally being under the influence of cannabis at the same time, and not the herb itself.
Synthetic and laced weed overdose
I’ll just keep it brief on this one.
Synthetic and laced weed are nothing like actual legal marijuana.
Laced weed is cannabis mixed with other drugs and chemicals to enhance its poor starting potency. Laced weed is rare but very dangerous.
Synthetic cannabinoids bind to the same receptors as cannabinoids found in cannabis, but they have nothing to do with the plant. Synthetic weed, also known as K2 or Spice, should not be mistaken for Marinol, the synthetic THC which is even FDA approved.
Unfortunately, there have been reports of deaths caused by synthetic and laced marijuana.
And it’s simple why:
It’s because the artificial chemicals intervene with receptors involved in breathing.
Marijuana over-intoxication symptoms and first aid
You never know what the real weed paranoia is until you take too much cannabis for the first time in your life. Excessive THC can trigger paranoia and anxiety, panic attacks, increased heart rate, slowed coordination, short-term memory loss and a myriad of other symptoms.
There’s not much you can do in that situation except keeping yourself as calm as possible.
If you or someone you know is having an unpleasant experience from too much weed, try to stay hydrated, breathe deeply, relax and it will all go away sooner or later (but no more than a few hours).
The first aid for people who took too much cannabis is pepper lemonade. Pepper contains terpenes which help diminish the side effects of consuming too much THC. Lemon helps you stay refreshed and hydrated and relieves the cottonmouth effect.
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