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Can You Overdose On Marijuana?

By on December 2, 2012

Summary (click to view)

  • Marijuana users are not at risk of death from overdose
  • Studies show that THC is remarkably safe
  • An average human would have to consume 2.1kg of marijuana at once to reach potentially fatal levels
  • Risk of overdose is much higher from everyday substances (e.g. aspirin and caffeine)
  • Inexperienced users may experience a temporary overdose referred to as ‘greening out’
  • – Unlike with many other illicit drugs, marijuana users are not at risk of death from overdose.

    Numerous studies have come to this conclusion after investigating the toxicity of marijuana and its active components – chemicals known as cannabinoids.

    Studies have mostly focused on the toxicity profile of the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) because of its potent psychological effects. What they’ve found is that although THC is a psychoactive substance and is responsible for the “high” that marijuana users experience, it is also remarkably non-toxic.

    What The Studies Say

    Many studies have set out to investigate the toxicity of cannabis and its various constituents. These studies measure toxicity levels by determining the median lethal dosage (LD-50). The LD-50 measurement is the point at which 50% of the test animals die (a 50% lethal dosage).

    Studies involving small animals such as rats have established an LD-50 point for THC at incredibly high levels (around 1000mg/kg). Studies involving larger animals such as monkeys and dogs have failed to achieve an LD-50 point, even at enormous doses of over 3000mg/kg.

    Although an LD-50 rating has never been established in humans, estimates can be made by extrapolating the results of animal studies.

    The non-fatal dosage of 3000mg/kg given in studies of larger animals would be equivalent to an average 70 kg human ingesting 210 grams of pure THC. Given that the average level of THC found in marijuana is approximately 10%, a person would have to smoke 2.1 kg of marijuana all at once in order to reach the same levels of THC as seen in toxicity studies.

    With these numbers in mind, its easy to see why marijuana is far less toxic than everyday substances such as aspirin (LD-50: 200mg/kg) and caffeine (LD-50: 192 mg/kg).

    In 2008, The Canadian Medical Association Journal published a review study spanning 30 years of research, concluding that there are no serious adverse effects of using marijuana. Likewise, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency acknowledges that no death from marijuana overdose has ever been reported.

    ‘Greening out’

    Although ingesting too much marijuana cannot cause death or permanent disability, a temporary form of overdose is common, especially in new or inexperienced users of the drug. This phenomenon is casually referred to as ‘greening out’ and usually results in some combination of the following symptoms:

  • Feelings of anxiety, paranoia or fear
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Hallucination and/or disorientation
    Thankfully, ‘greening out’ is only a temporary phenomenon and will naturally pass within a few hours.

    In severe cases, it may be wise to seek medical assistance for someone suffering from a marijuana overdose in order to ensure their safety if anything were to go wrong. There is always the possibility that marijuana obtained from the underground market may be laced (or “cut”) with other drugs, in which case the danger of the situation becomes severely amplified.

    • Scott Watkins

      Almost EVERY study regarding the LD-50 of Cannabis and its compounds have been conducted improperly. One of the most famous ( it was used to “prove” cannabis caused brain damage and death )was shown to be damaging their brains and killing the animals by carbon monoxide poisoning and lack of oxygen from making them breathe ONLY cannabis smoke for 10 MINUTES at a time. This is akin to vivisection, and shows just how evil the Federal government can be while attempting to forward their agenda. We, The People know better. And the Federal government officials had better catch on, lest they find their political lifespans limited. Very soon.

      And NO, you CANNOT die from Cannabis through ANY conventional form of ingestion. ANY.

      • Raymond Storm Sanders

        Poor monkeys.

    • Miriam Maor

      If a persons blood pressure drops too low, due to pot injrstion, couldn’t that cause death?

      • JT

        Having too much THC increase the heart rate, which is what cause colours, sounds, and time to feel more vibrant, rhythmic, and slower. Blood pressure does not fall but increase. Anyhow time to conduct my own experiment.

        • Truth

          Blood pressure can definitely drop due to dilation of the blood vessels, This can result in one fainting, but not death. There are no receptors on the brain stem which bind the the THC/CBD and impair basic physiological functions.

    • candymuffin

      This still doesn’t tell what the CAUSE of “greening out” is, what in the marijuana specifically is the cause of “greening out”. It’s certainly not a THC overdose, i’ve never heard of someone “greening out” from vaping. So what is it?

      • the dude

        The only time I’ve seen it happen in person, the dude had taken like a double dose of Nyquil before smoking. So I call that an acetaminophen od more than anything else.

      • MrGar1975

        i believe its due to blood sugar levels dropping.

      • PikaPet

        I’ve “greened out” before, but I believe it is a lack of oxygen. When I “greened out” I felt like I couldn’t get any oxygen even though I was taking deep breaths and my heart rate increased. Next thing I knew I was on the ground. I was very tired when I came to with no recollection of what had happened. I still smoke and whenever I get that feeling I remain calm, sit down, drink some water, and breathe deeply for a while, but I stop smoking for a bit and continue when I feel as though I can breathe normally. It can’t be the THC because it didn’t happen to me when I dabbed for the first time and my friend tried to ruin me and vaping doesn’t cause the same reaction. I’ve “greened out” due to smoking blunts, smoking a joint surrounded by cigarette smokers at a concert, and anxiety.

        • PikaPet

          Oh, and I also don’t smoke joints and blunts unless I’m with a group of people and the majority wish to smoke that way.

    • Isaxara

      the media is so sick because of deceptive sciences being profitable, experiment the plant in pure form like the major presidents of USA when we had real money real people real paper , and real medicin cannabis sativa cannabis indica variant ruderalis , non gmo crops , the goverment is with the gang mafia cartel composed by the major multinational corporations , they ve been hacking our society with lies since Bayer , mindcontrol through the media is theyr coward way to kill and feel superior, so people when will be the time to wake up, PARANOIA ABOUT EVERYTHING RELATED WITH CANNABIS is resulting in more crime misery cancer all these new diseases asma epilepsy autism even depression Cannabis is Now HEALING that is the present time and numbers dont lie Cannabis Saves Lifes.

    • jenny abbott

      In the UK it’s known as a ‘white out’.

      • Anon666

        We call it pulling a “Whitey”

        • Erica Pacheco

          lmao i love that ….. idk if yall for real but thats fukkin hilarious XD

          • weedmcgee

            It’s real because your skin goes white.

    • Glenn Bromiley

      greening out is bull shit… sorry. nobody smokes more than I do and this is crap. greening out is your mental illness, not the weed…

      • jane

        My son ate too much in cookies. He is throwing up 10 hrs later. Yep..can happen.

        • Zachary

          Yeah happened to me too Jane, and 2 very small pieces of brownies and I was going insane for about 4 hours and wasn’t too functional for about 2-3 days afterwards.

      • weedmcgee

        You’re an ignorant retard, greening out is very real for rookie tokers. Please research before commenting on something.

      • eldee

        Don’t be so ignorant. This definitely happens, and it is triggered by the weed. Veteran weed smoker of over 20 years here. Often happens as a result of smoking weed after drinking alcohol, but usually not if consuming the other way round..

    • No ID

      I work in an ER, and have done so for 28+ years. And it seems to me that just about every case of “greening out” I’ve ever seen has been in connection with an edible. In fact I’m at work right now as I type this, and looking at exactly three people, in front of me, doing just that. One is actively puking his brains out every few minutes. And the others freaking out with anxiety or hyperventilating and paranoid. ECG’s were done on all, and other than a mild tachycardia its all pretty benign. Granted they almost all state that It’s either their first time with an edible or at all. And yes, I have been known to say, “You should be at home enjoying the buzz with a pizza and watching a really good sci-fi movie.”
      Now I’ve seen people OD on all sorts of stuff, including water. And if you include the hyperventilating, even oxygen. But MJ has got to be one of, if not the least worrisome of any “Overdose”. And yes, I have seen a lot. Because other then being in the Emergency room business for these many years, I was a paramedic for a couple of years before that. And have been “partying” since at least 1974.

    • pharma

      ///Top shelf Medical Marijuana and oil with high Thc available @ moderate prices. Contact to place an order. Delivery is discreet and

    • eldee

      It’s due to poly substance consumption. If you find you suffer from bouts of greening or whiting out, avoid drinking alcohol or other downers, before consuming weed. Also avoid large doses of edibles. Also consider choosing a gentler form of cannabis.