Can You Overdose from Cannabis? What to Do When You Take Too Much

With medicinal cannabis now legal in 34 states and recreational cannabis legal in 11 states (plus the District of Columbia in both categories), the variety of products available has never been greater. It can be smoked, eaten, dabbed or vaped. However, quality and potency standards can be inconsistent. The strength of cannabis products varies between cultivars and products; and the same dosage can affect two individuals differently. 

Therefore, it’s not surprising that the question of overdosing on marijuana arises. In this article we discuss whether you can overdose from cannabis, how to tell if you’ve had a little too much and what to do in case of overconsumption.

Can You Overdose on Marijuana?

The short answer is no, you can’t. The National Institute on Drug Abuse classifies an overdose as an incident “when a person uses enough of the drug to produce life-threatening symptoms or death.” At the time of publishing this article, no marijuana overdose deaths had been reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a government agency that researches drug use and addiction. In fact, you can’t harm yourself by overdosing on cannabis.

While it’s impossible to overdose on cannabis, there can be some unpleasant side effects from high THC levels, such as anxiety and paranoia (see below for symptoms of overconsumption). 

Recently, deaths related to the use of vaping products that contain THC have been in the headlines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined that the problem does not appear to be the THC itself, but rather the existence of Vitamin E acetate, an additive in some vaping products. Vitamin E acetate usually doesn’t cause problems when it is applied to the skin or ingested, as in a vitamin supplement. However, when it is inhaled, it can interfere with the function of normal lungs. 

Vitamin E acetate was found in all lung fluid samples of patients with EVALI (an abbreviation for E-cigarette/Vaping-Associated Lung Injury) that the CDC evaluated. It has also been noted that the problems occurred primarily in individuals who used THC-containing e-cigarettes that were obtained “informally,” as in from a friend, a dealer, or in a counterfeit product. The FDA has specifically warned consumers that no vaping products obtained in this way should be used. 

Be sure to exercise caution both in where you obtain your cannabis and in the dosages you use.

Signs You May Have Consumed Too Much Marjuana

If you aren’t feeling right and are wondering if you’ve taken too much cannabis, here are some possible indicators:

  • Severe anxiety or panic attacks
  • Extreme confusion
  • Paranoia, sometimes in the form of delusions or hallucinations
  • A loss of some judgment and/or motor control (making driving more dangerous)
  • A racing heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Nausea or vomiting

It is worth noting that consuming cannabis in addition to any other substance, including alcohol, increases your risk of experiencing the symptoms above. 

What to Do If You Consume Too Much Cannabis

If you’ve had a little too much marijuana and are dealing with uncomfortable symptoms, there are four things you can do to help yourself until the effects wear off:

  1. Try to remain calm, talk yourself down and remind yourself that the symptoms will pass and you will feel much better in 30-60 minutes
  2. Find a safe, quiet space and relax, preferably with a trusted person
  3. Distract yourself by watching TV, listening to soothing music, or even taking a nap 
  4. Take a shower

And don’t forget to keep drinking water to ensure you stay hydrated.

Use Cannabis Safely and Responsibly

In order to use cannabis safely and avoid overconsumption, it’s important to be mindful of your own tolerance levels. Familiarize yourself with the dosage instructions for products prior to use, and always start off with the smallest possible dose. For novice users, we recommend 5mg. Start slowly and wait an hour or two before your next dose. 

Use the Journal feature in our app to keep track of how you reacted to a product and dosages. And feel free to ask your Happy Valley Host about the potency of any products that you’re interested in. Our hosts can also give you valuable information on the cannabis profile of different cultivars. 

To learn more about how to use concentrates, edibles, or cannabis oil in general, visit our resource center. To become a Happy Valley Insider and be among the first to hear about new products and cultivars, sign up for our newsletter. Simply scroll down to the bottom of the page and enter your email address in the Stay Connected section below.  

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