When I think of an overdose, I think of someone dying or at least coming close to it; the truth is, consuming more of a substance than we can handle is scary, even when not fatal. Thankfully, overdosing on cannabis is not really physiologically possible, and there is a lot one can do to mitigate the effects of greening out, even if it feels uncomfortable or scary at the moment.
Now, when was the last time you heard of someone dying from an overdose of cannabis? Usually, when we hear about overdose, it is because of opioids (such as fentanyl), and cannabis is not an opioid. Also, cannabis can’t kill you, something the media often fails to mention — It’s just not possible to ingest a lethal dose of cannabis.
Unfortunately, the growing opioid crisis has become so deadly that, according to the government of Canada, there were about 19 people a day dying from opioid toxicity between April and June 2021.
However, with cannabis, it is a different story.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a government agency that handles drug use and addiction, there has yet to be an adult death attributable solely to marijuana. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also states that while using too much marijuana can cause extreme confusion, emotional distress, increased blood pressure, heart rate, severe nausea, or unintentional injury, “a fatal overdose is unlikely.”
How Much Is Too Much?
Well, there isn’t a straightforward answer. Everyone has a different tolerance to cannabis. Some tolerate cannabis well, while others do not.
Cannabis products also vary in their potency, meaning, always start by consuming a small amount — Especially if you are a newbie. So, for example, if you are vaping a high THC for the first time or something different from what you usually use, take a few puffs to see how you react.
Edibles tend to carry a slightly higher risk of taking too much since it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple of hours to feel the effects. A common mistake is taking more without waiting at least two hours to feel the effects, compounding in an uncomfortable experience.
Cannabis does indeed carry the risk of unpleasant, unwanted, or negative effects, and some people have sought medical care for these issues. However, these effects are usually psychological, like a panic attack or cannabis hyperemesis, a rare but treatable event. And ultimately, these instances are still not an overdose but negative reactions.
What Does A Negative Reaction Feel Like?
- Thirstiness or a dry mouth (aka “cotton mouth”)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Concentration problems
- Slower reaction times
- Dry eyes
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Increased heart rate
- Anxiety and panic attacks
In general, cannabis promotes relaxation, decreases anxiety and reduces symptoms from many medical conditions. However, some people might react differently, especially if you consume too much, which can cause some of the side effects listed above. Negative reactions can last anywhere from 20 minutes to six hours. There have yet to be any reports on an adult dying from these types of side effects. So an overdose while consuming cannabis is unlikely to happen.