Can You Overdose On Marijuana?
A complicated question requires a complicated answer. The reality is that it is incredibly unlikely that a person will overdose on marijuana alone—if not entirely impossible.
Marijuana Overdose: Symptoms and Treatment
The past few decades have seen the emergence of new conversations about marijuana use and its safety. As more and more states legalize the drug for medicinal and recreational purposes, questions remain about the safety and risks involved with marijuana use.
As of 2020, 15 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, taxing the substance as they do for alcohol. Along with this, many other states have legalized the drug for medicinal use, requiring explicit permission from a doctor to obtain marijuana from licensed dispensaries.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has concluded that marijuana is the most popular psychotropic drug in the United States, second only to alcohol. Widespread legality is no doubt responsible for this increase in popularity.
Marijuana has the reputation of being a completely harmless or benign substance, but it is still labeled as a Schedule I controlled substance on the federal level by the United States government. Many pro-marijuana activists argue that the substance has only beneficial and medicinal effects but this is not exactly true.
In this article, we will explore the effects of marijuana use and its possible consequences. With the increased acceptability of the drug, the question of whether or a not a person can overdose on marijuana has never been more relevant. If nothing else, this discussion will help inform those who choose to partake in marijuana on how to avoid any unpleasant consequences from marijuana overconsumption.
Marijuana Overdose: Is It Possible?
A complicated question requires a complicated answer. The reality is that it is incredibly unlikely that a person will overdose on marijuana alone—if not entirely impossible. Many intoxicating drugs, such as opioids like heroin, bind to parts of the brain that are responsible for vital functions such as circulation and respiration. With marijuana, this is not the case. Marijuana almost strictly affects the parts of the brain that are responsible for memory and coordination, leaving the “auto-pilot” sections of the brain unaffected.
The relative safety of marijuana compared to other drugs is accepted as fact by the United States government. Government agencies such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) have concluded that there are no recorded instances of anyone overdosing on marijuana alone, fatally or otherwise.
Just because fatal overdose is a virtual impossibility, that doesn’t mean that overconsumption of marijuana can’t have some intensely unpleasant effects.
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Recreational Marijuana And New Trends
With the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in many states comes some new conversation regarding the strength of marijuana products. The psychoactive ingredient in marijuana is called tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. This is the compound that is responsible for many of both the desired and undesired effects of marijuana consumption.
Over the last few decades, the concentration of THC in marijuana strains has increased across the globe. This fact, along with the increased popularity of ingestion methods such as marijuana edibles and “dabbing,” leads to the effects of THC to be slightly less predictable than simply smoking the drug.
Purveyors of marijuana products have worked to make THC concentration more predictable. They are now able to distill marijuana into highly concentrated oils and waxes used for “dabbing.” Dabbing refers to the process of instantly vaporizing these THC concentrates to provide the user with intense and immediate effects.
Marijuana edibles are extremely popular as well, and as the name suggests, involve infusing THC into edible products such as candies or baked goods.
The issue of marijuana overconsumption lies in the concentration or “dosage” of THC. As of 2020, many states still lack any sort of regulation for THC levels in marijuana edibles and other products. Even though a product sold at a licensed marijuana dispensary may advertise that it’s THC content is relatively low, without regulations this dosage label is mainly a guessing game.
Along with this hazard, marijuana edibles also absorb into the body more slowly over time. For the inexperienced marijuana user, this can lead to negative effects. The person may think that the edible has no effect and consume more, quickly leading to an overload of THC in the system and some rather uncomfortable symptoms.
This risk is especially prominent when talking about “marijuana tourism.” This is a phenomenon that occurs when someone vacations from their home state where marijuana remains illegal, to a state such as Oregon, where marijuana is legal for recreational use. There is a high potential for over-consumption as the person may not be accustomed to the potency of marijuana sold legally for recreational use. This can easily lead to some of the unpleasant symptoms of marijuana “overdose.”
Symptoms Of Marijuana Related Overdose
While it would be an exaggeration to consider the over-consumption of marijuana an “overdose,” there are certainly some rather uncomfortable issues that can arise when too much THC is ingested. Some of these physical and psychological side effects may include
- Headache or light-headedness
- Escalated or emphasized heart rate
- Feelings of paranoia or anxiety
- Auditory or visual hallucinations
- General confusion or panic attacks
While we understand that marijuana has a negligible chance for fatal or serious overdose, these uncomfortable symptoms of over-consumption should not be ignored. Always seek medical intervention if you feel as though it is necessary.
Treatment For Marijuana
The biggest ally to anyone dealing with an over-consumption of marijuana is time. Treating the effects of marijuana intoxication is typically seen as a waiting game. Because paranoia, anxiety, and panic attacks are so common with THC overconsumption, it is effective to calm and soothe the affected party and make them comfortable. Preferably, the comforting should be done in the presence of trained medical professionals.
Many users scoff at experts when they call marijuana addictive, but the proof of potential psychological dependence is there. Similar to the same effect as nicotine, it can cause irritability, anxiety, and sleep difficulties when attempting to quit. People with substance addiction issues can either consider inpatient or outpatient treatment when it comes to marijuana, as there are no medical drugs to regulate or reduce cravings, and all cognitive behavioral therapy can be done outside of rehab.
Recovery Is Possible, Get Help With Vertava Health’s Network Of Addiction Treatment Centers
Because marijuana dependence typically co-occurs with other drug use, treatment should be sought from a program that can treat all addictions that the user might have. Also, since adolescents are the primary users of cannabis, many marijuana addiction treatment centers will specialize in teen rehabilitation.
If you or a loved one are dependent on marijuana and want to stop, contact us today. Rehab Center by Vertava Health is here to help you find a treatment center that is suited to meet your specific needs in treatment. Call us today at 877-890-3431 to start on your road to recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How much marijuana does it take to overdose?
There is no amount of marijuana that a user can ingest that will cause a fatal overdose. When a user ingests too much tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), they may have some very uncomfortable side effects such as anxiety, paranoia, and increased heart rate, but these symptoms are not recognized to be fatal or particularly dangerous.
How much marijuana do you have to smoke to overdose?
While there is no agreed upon amount that a person would have to smoke in order to overdose on marijuana, it is relatively easy to experience issues with anxiety and paranoia. One article from Newsweek suggests that a person would have to smoke 1500 pounds of marijuana in 15 minutes in order to suffer an overdose. Overdose is known to be virtually impossible.