Is a Cannabis Overdose Possible?

When it comes to the topic of overdosing on cannabis, there are generally two opposing camps. Those who feel that there is no way that one can overdose on it and those who believe that you can. The former group of people is generally folks who enjoy their cannabis and the latter group is the people who despise weed. 

Putting all bias aside, though, cannabis is a substance that causes physiological and psychological changes when used. It alters a person’s normal state of being for a while so there has to be some truth to the claim of overdosing. 

Let’s call it a bad reaction

Although a fatal overdose is highly unlikely, it does not mean that there is no such thing as an overdose. One can very much have a severe reaction or a bad reaction when using too much marijuana. When you do have a bad reaction, the effects are pretty much the same as a normal reaction, just amplified. If paranoia is one of the side effects you get, then this paranoia will be heightened to extreme levels. 

The same can be said of the other side effects like anxiety, extreme confusion, panic, fast heartbeat, delusions and hallucinations and so on. The effect itself is not what makes it dangerous, but how the person reacts to those effects. 

These extreme side effects could lead to car accidents or accidental injury of the person or anyone who is near to the person having a bad reaction.

How much THC does it take?

Again, medical professionals are not even sure how to define cannabis overdoes as the effects are so diverse. What makes matters even more complicated is that they do not know how much THC it would take for an overdose to take effect. As to the severity of the overdose, there is also still much to speculate about. 

When the overdose is used, it usually goes together with symptoms and consequences like seizures and even death. Although there have been isolated events where marijuana was implicated in the victim’s death, there are no causal relationships that would indicate that it was purely the marijuana’s doing. 

In these cases, the autopsies and medical reports were inconclusive as to whether the victim had any pre-existing condition that would have caused the adverse effect. 

What are some of the other adverse effects?  

Many different chemicals cause the weed to have its effect on people and new strains are constantly being developed to induce new or enhanced effects. Apart from the THC, there are over 100 other cannabinoids in cannabis with their own effects. Couple this diversity with the biological differences in each person, and the list of effects become equally complicated. There are, however, a few published side effects of THC toxicity.

Heart arrhythmia is one of the most common side effects that is associated with cannabis, but some doctors are of the opinion that it is also an underrated one. Many people use cannabis together with other drugs or even alcohol. So when the heart starts to beat out of sync, it is hard to determine which one of the substances caused the imbalance. 

Psychosis and paranoia are also very common side effects and when a person has taken enough to overdose, then things get really interesting. The biggest concern when a person experiences these effects is that the psychosis can last longer than the time it takes for the body to metabolize the THC. This could then lead a person to do things that are completely out of character and even dangerous to him or herself and those around them. 

Extreme nausea – Nausea that is caused is in direct contrast to one of cannabis’s biggest claims to fame, namely its anti-nauseating properties. When a person has a bad reaction to the THC, they could enter a phase of uncontrollable vomiting, which in itself is not the end of the world. It becomes a big problem when a person becomes dehydrated. 

Overdosing on edibles

What most people do not realize is that a cannabis overdose is not related to smoking or vaping alone, but it can also be induced by edibles. When one smokes or vapes weed, the effects almost immediately take hold. With edibles, however, the effects are delayed as the cannabis first has to be digested. People do not take this time into consideration and end up eating one n many brownies. The result is an extreme reaction. 

Overdosing on edibles are also a lot more common, especially as more and more states start to legalize medicinal and recreational cannabis. People become much more tolerant and negligent with their edible brownies that they leave them lying around for the kids to find. They are none the wiser and dip their hands in the cookie jar a little too much and end up with adverse reactions. 

Now that more states have legalized recreational use, many medical experts have expressed their surprise by the increase in the use of pot. People that would otherwise never have tried cannabis are now intrigued and give it a go. 

Many of these first-timers enjoy it so much that they overdo it. This explains then why the paramedics and hospitals have reported an increase in emergency department visits as a result of the increased use of marijuana. 

What to do in case of a suspected overdose

Depending on the severity of the bad reaction, one should always seek medical attention when the signs start to show. Bad reactions can last anything from one to three hours if the cannabis was smoked, but when an overdose was caused by edibles, the effects can last for several hours. 

If a medical facility is not an option or if the geographic location causes medical personnel to be delayed, you should remove the person with the reaction from a crowd and try and calm them down as best possible. Ensure that no dangerous objects are lying around and, in case of uncontrollable vomiting, have plenty of fluids at the ready.

What's your view?  Can you overdose on Cannabis?     

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