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Cannabis Overdose: Is There Such a Thing as Too Much?

May 30, 2023

Cannabis Overdose: Is There Such a Thing as Too Much?

So, let’s be real for a second. Here at Pharma, we recently finished our first batch of our Euphoria line gummies, a potent 120mg mix of Delta 8, Delta 9, Delta 10, and HHC. Our staff is usually encouraged to take home samples of new products to test if we’d like to and being the person to write about our CBD products, I always want to be able to give our customers a personal perspective. I went home and dutifully tossed ½ of one of our new Pineapple Punch gummies down the hatch.

Two hours later I gripped the cushions of my couch, eyes closed, breathing into a literal bag, my soul rushing in and out of my body as my brain hummed with wave after wave of buzzing, crackling energy. Colors of the room throbbed, music seemed to pass through every cell of my being at once, and I wasn’t sure I had any say over what my body could and couldn’t do. Was I transitioning to the next dimension? Having a heart attack? Had I melted my brain beyond repair once and for all? No. I was just really, really, really high. 

I obviously lived through my adventurously strong (for me) dose, but the experience led me to a question I thought I had known the answer to, back when the strongest thing on the market was a 50mg Delta 8 gummy: can someone actually overdose on cannabis? And if so, what does that look like?

Сan you overdose on cannabis?

Let’s get something out of the way: a healthy adult human has never died just from consuming cannabis. There have been a number of cases over the years floating around various news stations and the ever-powerful internet info stream concerning  the death of young children, health-compromised adults, or in cases where cannabis was not the only substance found in the system, but none can state conclusively that cannabis alone caused the death of an individual. And if you think that “big cannabis” is just “covering up” the risks, keep in mind, human beings have been using cannabis for thousands of years and if a statistically significant (or any really) risk of death existed, we’d know about it by now. 

All that isn’t to say that large doses of cannabis can’t make you feel decidedly uncomfortable, because they can. Users who overdo can experience paranoia, distortions of reality, panic and anxiety attacks, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, muscle weakness, changes in blood pressure, amongst other unpleasant side effects, but there’s good news here: this is all survivable and best yet, entirely preventable. 

It is important to note that you are far more likely to “overdose” on edibles than by smoking, dabbing, or vaping. There are two primary reasons for this. The first being, edibles take a long time to process in your system, typically between 40 minutes and 2 hours. It can be easy for an impatient user or someone unfamiliar with their own body’s processing to decide to ingest more before letting an original dose start to take effect. It is also a common misconception that because one has a considerable tolerance for smoked cannabis that the same tolerance will translate to edibles. Which brings us to the second reason why cannabis edibles are a major culprit for uncomfortable cannabis experiences: smoking cannabis and consuming an edible do not produce the same experience. At all. And we have science and our livers to thank for that. 

Man smoking a cannabis

When you smoke cannabis flower, your lungs process the THC into your bloodstream very quickly, which isn’t the case with edibles. As cultural personality Joe Rogan so eloquently put it “when you eat (cannabis) it’s processed by your liver and it produces something called 11-hydroxy-metabolite, that’s five times more psychoactive than THC… and it lets you talk to dolphins.” The intensity of the high also lasts far longer, which can test even the most experienced of smokers. So, even someone familiar with cannabis, or even someone that’s familiar with edibles, can end up in a situation that proves to be less than comfortable.

How Can I Prevent An “Overdose” of Cannabis From Happening To Me?

Choose a CBD Product That’s Tailored to You

It can be easy to select products based on popularity or based on “best-seller” lists, but cannabis products are not one-size-fits-all. The ongoing introduction of different isolated cannabinoids and cannabinoid blends can feel very confusing. It’s hard for those of us in the cannabis industry to keep all the differences between Delta 10, Delta 8, HHC, THCA, THCP, THCJH, and all the myriad of others straight, with most general consumers left feeling very lost. But all of these cannabinoids do behave differently and work better for different people. 

If you don’t feel like spending all of your free time boning up on the whole cannabis spectrum (and I can’t blame you), don’t be shy in asking a representative from your local smoke shop or at the company you plan to buy from. The people you’re talking to should be well versed and can help match you up with the best cannabinoids and products for you, whether you’re totally new to cannabis life or a total pro. Just be candid about your cannabis experience and your goals and you’ll usually find yourself in good hands. 

Mind Your Dose Cannabis 

This might seem like an obvious point, but you wouldn’t believe the number of people I’ve talked to whose bad experiences have simply boiled down to taking too much. Start slow with anything you’ve never tried before and give your body plenty of time for the effects to kick in. You’ve got nothing to prove to anyone by taking a too-large dose, despite what social media may tell you, and you’ll look a lot sillier when you’ve hit that point of questioning your own reality and not being able to spit out the word “cheeseburger” in the fast food line because you’re worried that that the drive through employee might actually be working for the FBI. Not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything…

We promise, cannabis is not a competitive sport and if the people you’re using it with seem to think so, we’d recommend taking applications for new smoking buddies. Do only what makes you feel comfortable and always stick to your guns when it comes to your safety and security. You’ll always thank yourself for it in the end. 

…As Well As Your Set And Setting

On that note, you want to make sure that you take a minute to evaluate your personal “set” or state of mind as well as where you are and who you’re with (your “setting”) before consuming any psychoactive substance. You want to make sure that you are in a good place mentally, in a safe space, and with people you trust, all of which can help to prevent a bad experience from happening and provide you with more leverage to get back on track if things start to go south. Cannabis can be used as a therapeutic tool, but this should always be supervised and undertaken with care. Think carefully about using psychoactive substances with people you don’t know well, in unfamiliar places or in large crowds, and when you’re in a less than awesome mood or have recently undergone a traumatic experience. 

What Do I Do If I Already Over-Dosed Cannabis?

Overdose of Cannabis

It would be great if we could prevent overdosing from happening every time, but in reality almost every cannabis user is going to experience that “help, I’m too high,” feeling at least once. The first resource you have: don’t panic. You’re going to make it through this. I can absolutely promise you that. Luckily, you might have some resources on hand that can help you relax and start to fix the situation. In addition to the usual recommendations of drinking water, grabbing a blanket, and deep breathing, here are a few other techniques you can use that you might not have thought of that can majorly help when you’re faced with canna-crisis. 

Strategy #1 : Grab Some Black Pepper

Believe it or not, pepper is a great way to help mitigate that “too high” feeling. The terpenes (pinene and caryophyllene) in pepper will help to bring you down a few degrees, and it doesn’t take long to be effective. You can either chew a few peppercorns or grind some into a small dish and smell it. 

Strategy #2: Visit Your Fridge For a Glass of Lemonade

Lemon also has terpenes that can help bring you down from a too intense high. Limonene has a naturally calming effect and has been studied for its anti-worryness properties. Sugar also has positive effects in this scenario. A lot of the discomfort associated with “greening out” is the result of a drop in blood sugar. So, fill up a glass and drink your way to a calmer state of mind. 


 Scientist studying cannabis leaf

Strategy #3: Become One With the Water

Taking a shower or bath is a great way to help distract your body and mind from a too potent high. Getting clean is naturally relaxing and even just washing your face can prove to set your mind more at ease. Hot water is a great muscle relaxer, but cold water may be even better, if you can stand it. Cold water will help to let your body access more oxygen for stabilization, drop your body temperature, boost your mood, and decrease your heart rate, which should let you begin to calm down. 

Strategy #4: Use Your CBD Stash

CBD is a great way to counteract an intense high. CBD prevents THC from binding to CB1 neural receptors and helps you to come down faster. Remember that CBD is still going to need some time to kick in, so a tincture or vaporizer is really the best delivery system to make sure that you get the calming benefits you need as soon as possible. 

At the End of the Day…

Don’t be nervous. As we uncovered earlier, no one has ever died exclusively from cannabis use, and you are more than likely not going to be the first. Stay calm, plan ahead, observe your set, setting, and personal tolerance and you’re going to come out just fine. And if all else fails, just pop on an old episode of Seinfeld or The Office and let the simplicity of a sitcom carry you home. No one ever figured out their limits without going a little too far, so consider yourself part of a time-honored stoner tradition of overdoing things. Hopefully, you can take away a lesson or two and be better equipped to fine tune your future cannabis experiences.PharmaCBD is a trusted manufacturer and seller with a wide product range to suit your needs. Fill out our online form, and an experienced professional will get back to you as soon as possible.


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