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Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
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Cannabis has an excellent safety profile, but rare cases of marijuana poisoning are possible. It is important to note that marijuana poisoning is not deadly, and there has never been a confirmed fatality due to overdosing on cannabis alone. Cannabis is not poisonous except perhaps in extremely large doses. Cannabis is, however, intoxicating, and you can consume too much of it and have an adverse reaction to it (“overdose”).
Marijuana poisoning can cause problems, most of which are minor and temporary. Learn more about marijuana poisoning, what to do if you’ve consumed too much cannabis and how to prevent marijuana toxicity.
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What Is Marijuana Poisoning?
Fatal marijuana poisoning is virtually impossible, and scientists have discovered that a lethal dose of cannabis for animals would be 40mg/kg to 130 mg/kg delivered intravenously. Researchers dispute how much cannabis it would take to kill a human or if it is even possible.
The Schaffer Library of Drug Policy states, “Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects. But marijuana is not such a substance, and there is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality.”
Rumors have circulated that 1,500 pounds of marijuana consumed all at once would be a lethal dose for humans. But even this figure has never been confirmed. It is worth noting that consuming 1,500 pounds of any substance will likely cause death.
In short, while theoretically possible, a fatal marijuana dose is infinitely unlikely. Milder marijuana poisoning or “overdosing” is a common occurrence, though, when people overestimate their tolerance and consume too much cannabis, especially with high concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Consuming an excess of THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis can cause physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. However, it would not be fair to describe these effects as “poisonous” when “adversely intoxicating” might be more accurate.
Signs and Symptoms
It’s not difficult to recognize the signs and symptoms of marijuana poisoning. If you have consumed too much cannabis, here are some potential symptoms to be aware of:
- Swollen red eyes
- Headache, possibly accompanied by nausea
- Digestive issues
- Dry mouth even after drinking water
- Sweats or chills
- Elevated pulse and rapid heartbeat
- Vertigo/dizziness or feeling faint
- Extreme fatigue/lethargy
- Trouble concentrating on basic tasks
- Sense of disconnectedness from your body
- Hearing voices or having visual hallucinations
- Panic attacks (more common for people with anxiety and who have previously experienced panic attacks)
- Paranoid thoughts
- Psychotic episodes (extremely rare)
You may experience just one of the above symptoms or a combination of symptoms. Alternatively, some people may experience no symptoms at all.
What to Do If You Suspect Marijuana Poisoning
Most marijuana poisoning or overdose cases may be treated at home with remedies like hydration, rest, and meditation. Sleep if you need to, and know that the symptoms will most likely wear off by the time you wake up. Severe, life-threatening cannabis “poisoning” or overdose cases are rare but could potentially happen, especially if administered alongside a sedative or analgesic opioid.
If you have repeatedly experienced the symptoms of marijuana poisoning/overdose, then potential long-term medical interventions may be necessary. While cannabis is not generally considered an addictive drug, marijuana use disorder or cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome is possible and can lead to other problems. If you are having trouble functioning in your everyday life or feel compelled to use marijuana, consider a drug rehabilitation program to restore your health.
Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Poisoning
Long-term effects of an acute case of marijuana poisoning are unlikely. However, there are long-term effects associated with consistently heavy use of cannabis. People who consume marijuana heavily daily may develop cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). The syndrome involves uncontrollable nausea and vomiting and has no known cure. People with CHS usually need to stop using cannabis to see their symptoms resolve.
Preventing Marijuana Poisoning
The best way to prevent marijuana poisoning or overdose is to obtain a medical marijuana card. A licensed healthcare provider will be able to assess you and determine whether medical cannabis is a good choice for you.
In addition to proper dosing, consider using cannabis products low in THC. Most marijuana “poisoning” cases occur when people consume too much THC. CBD products are an alternative to broad-spectrum cannabis products and may help prevent many of the symptoms associated with marijuana poisoning.
Finally, consider switching your ingestion method. Most people who experience marijuana poisoning have consumed edibles. If cannabis edibles do not agree with you, try cannabis topical or sublingual tincture instead.
Consume cannabis safely and responsibly with a medical marijuana card. The medical professionals in Leafwell’s virtual clinic are here to guide you through your application for an MMJ card online.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How long do weed overdose symptoms last?
In general, the symptoms of a cannabis overdose resolve within a day, sometimes within a few hours, depending on your method of ingestion. Recovering from an overdose on cannabis edibles typically takes longer than overdosing through smoking or vaping. Other factors that influence how long your overdose symptoms last include your level of experience with cannabis, body weight, and body chemistry.
What is it like to overdose on marijuana?
Overdosing on marijuana can feel like a mild hangover or a severe case of the flu. Common symptoms of a marijuana overdose include headache, fatigue, racing heartbeat, and nausea.
Can I die from an overdose of marijuana?
No human fatality from a marijuana overdose has ever been documented. In theory, it may be possible to die from a marijuana overdose, but it would require a person to consume more cannabis than is likely humanly possible. It is, however, possible to take too much cannabis and suffer an adverse reaction from it.