When it comes to partaking in the sticky icky, there’s a first time for everything, and anyone who loves cannabis who says they have never “greened out” is probably telling porky pies. It doesn’t matter what you’re indulging in – chocolate, movies, shopping, etc. – too much of a good thing can be bad, and the same can be said of weed.
What does it mean to “green out”?
A common term in the world of weed smokers, “greening out” is just a colloquialism for the decidedly less sexy “acute THC toxicity”. The effects of this THC toxicity aren’t fatal, but they can be rather uncomfortable, and symptoms usually include:
- Increased heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Increased anxiety/paranoia
How easy is it to “green out” on cannabis?
Cannabis chemicals THC and CBD work on our endocannabinoid system, the one responsible for maintaining homeostasis throughout the body (the regulation of sleep, mood, memory, hunger, pain, and more). Whether it be the total amount you take or the percentage of cannabinoids present in a single dose (for example, a strain like White Widow can have up to 26% THC, where Cheese Auto will only contain about 10%), a higher percentage of psychoactive cannabinoids will mean a more potent experience.
Remember: THC toxicity is not discriminating. Anyone who overindulges in a strain that’s too strong (or goes a little H.A.M. on the pot brownies) is susceptible to this struggle, novices and dedicated connoisseurs alike.
One thing that many note, however, is that you’re more likely to go overboard with an edible than you might when you smoke or vape your cannabis. Yes, you can smoke too much but smoking/vaping usually will result in near-immediate effects, whereas with snacks like gummy bears and cookies it can take upwards of three hours for a patient to notice the effects (this is because ingested cannabinoids have to be processed through the liver, where it is metabolised into a more potent chemical, 11-Hydroxy-THC, before being taken up into the bloodstream). To the uninitiated, any delay may lead them to believe their special treat isn’t working, which in turn may lead them to take more than the recommended dosage, resulting in an overwhelming high.
The good news is, if you do green out your symptoms will likely only last for a short period of time, though it may take a few days for them to wear off altogether.
Can you overdose on cannabis?
Unlike with alcohol and opiates, it’s virtually impossible to overdose on cannabis, a fact that was underscored by the National Cancer Institute, which stated:
“Because cannabinoid receptors, unlike opioid receptors, are not located in the brainstem areas controlling respiration, lethal overdoses from Cannabis and cannabinoids do not occur.”
In the case of medications like codeine and fentanyl, receptors activated by these chemicals are located throughout the body, but importantly, they are present in areas of the brain that control breathing. Overloading these receptors can cause a person to stop breathing.
Marijuana works on different pathways in the brain, activating cannabinoid receptors, and although smoking plant material can cause issues with respiratory health (it could prove detrimental to the lungs and throat, for instance), it does not affect respiration, and cannot cause someone to stop breathing, regardless of how much THC is consumed.
What to do if you smoke too much weed?
So, you think you’re experiencing a green out? Don’t worry. There are a few things you can do to help mitigate the discomfort you’re going through.
- First, don’t panic – this is temporary! The symptoms will eventually go away. If you can remember to focus on this fact, you can prevent paranoia or anxiety.
- Find a safe place to spend the next few hours (or longer). Take your time getting there and moving around, since quick movements might make you feel dizzy.
- Try to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water or orange juice, especially if are throwing up. Keeping properly hydrated also helps to flush the cannabinoids from your system just a little bit faster.
- Don’t do any more drugs, even cannabis! We wouldn’t recommend taking a “body stone” strain to “bring you back down”.
- Try to take a nap. It’s just a more comfortable way to pass the time.
- Get medical help. If you find that your symptoms aren’t improving or are getting worse, head to a walk-in clinic or the emergency room (but don’t drive yourself). There is no magic cure for THC toxicity, but they can offer advice or assistance in a situation you feel you cannot control.
Of course, prevention is always better than the cure. If you want to avoid a potentially uncomfortable experience when you try cannabis for the first time (or even just a strain that is new to you), it’s best to err on the side of caution. Take the smallest recommended dose, wait for at least a half an hour and if you don’t feel anything, then you can take just a little bit more. Bear in mind that cannabis affects everyone differently, and your experience can vary wildly from the people around you, but as long as you partake responsibly, you’ll find that cannabis can be a safe and beneficial part of your weekly routine.
Ready to try cannabis for yourself? Check out our great selection of cannabis seeds!