Cannabis Overdose – Truth or Myth
There is an ongoing controversy around the effects cannabis or in wider scope marijuana can have on the body, and if excess intake of the substance can cause a fatal overdose. Even amongst supposed experts, the verdict varies.
In this article, we will take a closer look at how cannabis or in this case marijuana affects the body, and if in fact, it can cause a fatal overdose.
Disclaimer: The content of this article does not connote medical advice and it should not be seen or taken as such. The author and his partners are absolved of how you use the information contained therein.
Now, down to business.
To know if cannabis can cause an overdose, it is first important to understand how cannabis interacts with the human body.
Marijuana – also known as Maryjane, pot, weed, hash, and dozens of other names – consists of the shredded and dried parts of the cannabis plant, including the flowers, seeds, leaves, and stems. Traditionally, the substance is consumed by smoking but in some cases, it can be consumed as an ingredient in food, brewed tea, or oils.
The different methods of taking the drug may cause the drug to affect your body differently. When you inhale marijuana smoke into your lungs, the drug is quickly released into your bloodstream and makes its way to your brain and other organs. It will take a little longer time to feel the effects if you eat or drink the substance.
So, what happens when you consume cannabis?
Several persons report various physical and psychological effects when they consume the substance. Effects range from harm and discomfort to pain relief and relaxation.
When cannabis enters your bloodstream, the effects are usually person dependent. While the substance is rated to have therapeutic benefits, the reaction is not the same for everyone. Some of the reported effects include; changes in perception and increased heart rate, an enveloping sense of relieve and relaxation, and for many others, an increased state of inebriety.
This is how cannabis interacts with the body.
Cannabis interacts with what is known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) located in the brain and Central Nervous System in the body. The substance being a phytocannabinoid work to support the ECS to perform its function correctly.
The substance is rated to support the body to heal its self of pain, provide relief from anxiety, help to stop seizures, and in many ways provide therapeutic relief for a whole range of conditions that plague the human body.
So, how can something so good cause any harm?
While the consumption of cannabis holds plenty of benefits for the body, we cannot deny that the substance can cause some harm in some people. For much of the negative effects of the substance, we can credit the causes to abuse, and consuming THC rich marijuana.
Now, this is an entirely different topic on its own, but no worry, we would try to break it down a little.
THC and CBD
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD are the two most dominant chemicals you would find in the Cannabis plant. By virtue of their dominance, cannabis plants are rated along these lines.
THC is the reason your mommy warned you about marijuana. The substance is what causes the euphoric high that most people experience when they consume the substance recreationally. The consumption of THC is illegal in most parts of the world, and in some instances, THC rich marijuana is considered first-class drugs, and as such, consumption and possession are considered criminal offences.
CBD on the other hand is non-psychotropic and does not cause any euphoric reactions. The substance is responsible for much of the positive attention that cannabis is receiving right now and it is noted for its therapeutic properties and healing tendencies.
CBD does not cause a high and can be consumed by people of all ages.
The effects of marijuana on the body are often immediate. Longer-term effects may depend on how you take it, how much you use, and how often you use it.
While you can’t overdose on cannabis in the way that you can overdose on, say, opioids, it doesn’t mean you can’t overdo it or have a bad reaction to cannabis.
How much marijuana is too much?
There isn’t a straightforward answer here because everybody’s different. Some people seem to tolerate cannabis well, while others don’t tolerate it well at all. Cannabis products also vary greatly in their potency.
Edibles, however, seem to be more likely to cause a negative reaction. This is partly because they take a long time to kick in.
After eating an edible, it can be anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours before feeling the effects. In the meantime, many people end up eating more because they mistakenly believe the edibles are weak.
Mixing cannabis with alcohol can also cause a negative reaction for some people, and like we have said above, consuming THC rich marijuana products can cause a bad reaction in some people, especially those who don’t use cannabis often.
What does a bad reaction look like?
Cannabis can have quite a few less-than-desirable side effects, including:
- thirstiness or a dry mouth (aka “cotton mouth”)
- concentration problems
- slower reaction times
- dry eyes
- fatigue or lethargy
- increased heart rate
- anxiety and other changes in mood
In rarer cases, it can also cause:
- paranoia and panic attacks
- nausea and vomiting
These side effects can last anywhere from 20 minutes to a full day. In general, cannabis that’s higher in THC is associated with more severe, long-lasting effects. And yes, it’s possible to wake up with a “weed hangover” the following day.
Looking to avoid a bad reaction in the future?
Keep the following in mind:
- Start with low doses. If it’s your first time using cannabis, it’s a good idea you start low and slow. Consume a small amount and give it plenty of time to kick in before using more.
- Be careful with edibles. Edibles take anywhere from 20 minutes up to 2 hours to kick in because they need to be digested first. If you’re trying edibles for the first time, or if you’re not sure of the strength, have a very small amount and wait at least 2 hours before having more.
- Try a low-THC cannabis product. Most dispensaries and cannabis shops list the amount of THC in their products. If you’re new to cannabis, or if you’re sensitive to the side effects, try a low-THC product or one with a high CBD: THC ratio.
- Avoid overwhelming situations. If cannabis sometimes makes you anxious or confused, it might be best to use it in a safe, calm environment.
While nobody has died from overdosing on cannabis alone, it’s possible to consume too much and have a bad reaction. This tends to happen more with edibles and high-THC products.
If you’re new to cannabis, pay careful attention to how much cannabis you’re consuming at a time and give yourself plenty of time to feel the effects before using more.