When you tack on the ever-growing list of medicinal benefits of marijuana, it’s easy to see why people are opting for a joint instead of the bottle.  But, just like how you can get blackout drunk from drinking too much, smoking too much can yield a similar, unpleasant experience. It’s called greening out. 

Novice cannabis enthusiasts tend to run into this problem more than any other cohort. They smoke a joint or eat an edible and don’t feel anything, so they insist on taking on more than they can handle.

Then, when the cannabis finally kicks in, they find themselves ridden with anxiety, paranoia, and the inability to speak.

The “green out” is almost a rite of passage at this point for greenhorn smokers who don’t heed the advice of their friends and more experienced tokers. Nevertheless, this gives us reason to warn people of what to expect if it happens to you and give you some strategies for copying. 

What is Greening Out? Is it a “Weed Overdose?”

green-out

In comparison to drinking too much and blacking out, “greening out” is when you smoke too much weed

“Greening out” is also essentially a cannabis overdose. The wording is slightly problematic since a regular person would need to smoke 1500 pounds of cannabis in 15 minutes to die from cannabis.

But, in the history of humankind, there is yet to be a person who has the lung capacity, let alone the gusto to consume that much cannabis that quickly. So, let’s agree to call it consuming more than the recommended amount instead.

Cannabis has been used for thousands of years in holistic and ritualistic fashions. To this day, not a single death has ever been recorded due to the overconsumption of cannabis. This is not to say there are no ill effects of taking too much marijuana. THC and other cannabinoids (the active constituents of cannabis) act on specific receptors in the brain—sensibly named cannabinoid receptors.

Drugs Deadlier Than Marijuana (2010) – Source: Vox

These receptors are a part of the larger endocannabinoid system and is actually naturally activated, although to a much lesser degree, by a neurotransmitter called anandamide, a molecule that plays a role in pain, depression, appetite, memory, and fertility. But when it’s excessively activated it makes you feel sick in this way. This is what you could say is a “weed overdose“.

The science behind why we green out is still a little murky. Currently, there’s no explanation for why a THC “overdose” occurs – everybody has a different threshold of how much pot induces a green out.

Hence why you’ll see people take enormous dabs and live to tell the story, and others will eat a couple of edibles and take a couple of drags.

The issue is more likely than not related to a user’s tolerance. Those unaccustomed to the adverse side-effects of cannabis can have difficulty fielding the sometimes extreme experience.

This is especially the case if they’ve never experienced the effects of greening out before.

However, what the scientific community knows for certain is that drinking alcohol while smoking weed heavily increases the chances of a green out.

So, if you plan on smoking a couple of joints while drinking, consider having only a couple of puffs or rethink the idea entirely.

What Happens During a Marijuana Overdose / Greening Out?

While death isn’t a symptom, there can be some uncomfortable conditions and symptoms that will lead you to be careful of overconsuming cannabis.

While there are physical effects, most of those who report a green out speak of the anxiety it brings. If you are suffering with anxiety from consuming too much cannabis make sure to take deep breaths and drink plenty of sugary fluids. Find yourself a “safe space” that is comfortable for you to relax and take a breather. Consuming a CBD extraction or tincture will also greatly reduce anxiety. CBD has been shown to buffer the effects of THC on your brain.

Although the physical symptoms may not be as pronounced as the mental effects, a marijuana overdose can have the following.

Green Out Symptoms – Weed Overdose Symptoms

  • Shaking
  • Cottonmouth
  • Chest pain
  • Sweating
  • Disorientation
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hallucinations

Other than cottonmouth, sweating, dizziness and shortness of breath, the other symptoms are rare. The symptoms can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 6 hours.

The former being when just slightly going over your tolerance and the latter be when eating a mega-dose edible on an empty stomach.

So Can You Die From a Green Out? Will a Marijuana Overdose Kill You?

No, you won’t die from a green out. A weed overdose won’t kill you.

Although greening out is considered a “weed overdose,” you can’t die from it. The lethal dose of marijuana is thought to be extremely high. While lethal doses have not been observed in humans, they can be estimated by injecting rats with large doses of THC.

Scientists use a measure called the LD50 (lethal dose) to describe the dose of a drug that would kill 50% of a given population. Another measure called the ED50 (effective dose) refers to the dose of a drug that works for 50% of the population.

In general, the closer the LD50 and the ED50 are, the more dangerous the drug is.

For example, the LD50 for alcohol is 10 drinks (a drink meaning 1 shot, beer, or glass of wine) all at once. Compared to the effective dose, which is simply 1 drink, it’s easy to see why alcohol poisoning is so common. And when it comes to heroin, the lethal dose is only 5 times the effective dose.

The lethal dose for marijuana is estimated to be 40,000 times the effective dose. In other words, someone would have to take 40,000 times the normal amount of marijuana in order to die. This explains why overdosing on marijuana is basically unheard of.

Cannabis is an extremely safe medication for those who are seeking a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals. Many debilitating ailments can be relieved or cured with the use of marijuana. To find out more about which ailments, you can enter here.

How to Prevent Greening Out

greened-out

For the most part, greening out is an entirely avoidable experience. If you end up misjudging your tolerance or experience a lapse in judgment and bite off more than you can chew, we have some tips to help you deal with that as well.

1. Know your Limit, Play Within it

It may sound a little redundant, but the best way to avoid greening out is to understand your tolerance and not go overboard. We all have a night where the joints and edibles don’t stop. For the most part, you’ll be fine, but you are at risk of greening out once you begin to push your boundaries. What’s more, you may also experience a weed hangover the next day if you smoke too much weed.

If you’re a novice smoker, keep it to a joint or 2 shared with your friends. If you’re by yourself at home, smoke a tiny bowl or opt to take a few hits from your vaporizer.

When it comes to edibles, this is even more crucial. Start with 5mg and slowly work your way up. You can always relight the joint or eat more edibles – once the cannabis is down the hatch, there’s no going back.

2. Don’t Smoke on an Empty Stomach

Another key measure to avoid greening out is to have a proper meal before consuming cannabis. 

As with drinking, using marijuana on an empty stomach enhances the effects. If you don’t want to end up in a world of confusion and nausea, then at the very least, have a snack first.

3. Avoid Combining Cannabis with Certain Foods

Although we said it’s in your best interest to eat before smoking, certain foods have been found to increase the psychoactive effects of cannabis. They do so by interacting with the cannabinoids and terpenes found within the flower.  In brief, refrain from these foods if a green out isn’t your cup of tea;

  • Beer
  • Mangoes
  • Black and green tea
  • Chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Sweet potatoes

We’re sure you can find something to eat that doesn’t include these items! However, if getting higher is something you want to do, be sure to check out our article here to learn more about high-enhancing foods!

4. Drink Plenty of Liquids

Hydration is your best friend, and this isn’t just for smoking. Water is our lifeblood, so if you’re not getting enough of it, it’s time to keep a water bottle with you at all times.

This is especially true when it comes to cannabis consumption. One of the reasons that a THC overdose may happen is due to dehydration.

A healthy dose of fluids before a smoking marathon will do wonders in making you feel more comfortable, as well as acting to alleviate cottonmouth. 

5. Stay Away From Alcohol

It can be enticing to mix cannabis and alcohol together, especially in a celebratory party environment where both can be so readily available.

However, caution should definitely be taken before mixing these two drugs together and becoming what’s popularly known as “faded” or “crossfaded.”

The reason why alcohol and cannabis make for such a dangerous combination is that alcohol increases the THC absorption rate of our bodies. If you’re trying to stay in the clear, then avoid combining these 2 intoxicating substances together.

What to do if Someone is Greening Out?

No matter how experienced of a smoker you are, greening out is an awful experience to go suffer through. Thoughts start to race, fear slowly creeps over your mind and anxiety begins to set in.

Don’t worry, though; if you or a friend are in the midst of a panic attack, we have a few tips on how to sober up from weed and to help you get back on your feet.

1. Take Deep Breaths

Focus on your breathing and slowly breathe in and out. The first thing you need to do is relax; this will make the experience much more bearable.

Just like you would if you are doing yoga, meditating or calming your mind from a stressful situation, taking deep breaths is very important.

Slowly start counting down from 20 and feel the air fill your lungs and be sure to slow down on the exhale as well. Imagine that each breath is a calming burst of energy and each exhale an expulsion of negative forces. The first step to controlling a green out is controlling your mind and body.

2. Drink Water or a Sweet Juice

Once you’ve finished taking deep breaths, get some water or a sweet fruit juice right away. Your blood sugar may be low, which contributes to the nauseating effects of greening out, and the cotton mouth that often ensues as a result.

Continue to drink water, even if you’re not feeling thirsty. The simple act of consuming fluids can act to help keep your mind and body busy and focused away from the experience of greening out.

3. Take Some CBD

Since the legalization of cannabis, CBD has been found to have many medicinal benefits. Ranging from alleviating inflammation, to reducing anxiety to even treating multiple sclerosis

That being said, CBD’s greatest day-to-day benefit is perhaps its ability to buffer the effects of THC. Able to alleviate some of the more common symptoms of a green out such as anxiety, paranoia and dizziness, including CBD in your cannabis sessions is a great idea.

Have a CBD tincture nearby or better yet, opt for a strain that is high in CBD and not just THC. Trust us, you’d be thanking us later.

4. Take a Whiff of Black Pepper

Research has shown that a few whiffs of black pepper can induce a calming effect. It helps relax those that are distracted from a cannabis overdose.

A word of caution, don’t inhale the black pepper. You want to smell the pepper, not inhale it. You’ll not only be greening out, but you’ll be rolling on the ground with pain.

5. Take a Nap and Sleep it off

If the previous steps are powerless in making you feel better, then the next best thing to do is to lie down and go to sleep. Greening out doesn’t last forever – don’t try to ride out the high. Fluff up your pillow and get comfortable – it’ll pass with time.

There’s nothing a good nap can’t cure.

Greening Out – Nothing to Worry About

A green out or a weed overdose can be a scary experience at the time, but you can take preventative measures to make sure one never happens. If you experience a lapse in judgment and it does manage to sneak in, know that you’ll be alright. All it takes is a bit of time, water and rest to start feeling better.

No one has ever died from a green out and we can assure you that no one ever will. Keep that in the back of your mind in case the waters get a little choppy.

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Herb Approach News is the media division of the cannabis health company Herb Approach. Through this medium, we are determined in providing insight on everything cannabis related, from news to commentary, from tips to guides on practical consumption, a whole lot more. Have a question? Email us at [email protected]