Weed 101: Can I Overdose On Cannabis?
The first thing you should know is that, technically, you can’t overdose on cannabis at all – meaning that no matter how much you consume, in any form, it’s not going to kill you the way overdosing on, say, heroin will.
This is because the neurological receptors for cannabinoids aren’t located in the part of the brainstem (the medulla oblongata) which controls breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. So, you can’t consume too much weed and have it stop your heart or your breathing. You can, of course, consume a lot and then do something stupid that kills you, but winning a Darwin Award isn’t the weed’s fault.It turns out there’s some technical terminology for all this. The LD50 (LD for Lethal Dose) is the amount of a drug that would kill half (50%) of any given population. The ED50 (ED for Effective Dose) is the amount of a drug which works well for 50% of any given population.
The formula behind this is basically that the closer the ED50 and the LD50 are for any given drug, the easier it is to kill yourself with it. Alcohol has an LD50 of 10 drinks and an ED50 of 1 drink. At 10:1, you can understand why so many people get alcohol poisoning. The ratio for heroin is a very tight 5:1. Not a lot of wiggle room.
You can’t consume too much weed and have it stop your heart or your breathing. You can, of course, consume a lot and then do something stupid that kills you, but winning a Darwin Award isn’t the weed’s fault.
However, the ratio for cannabis is about 40,000:1. This is also why nobody dies from weed. You can, however, consume so much that you get extremely disoriented, confused, clumsy, goofy, ravenous, and/or paranoid. The technical term for this is High As Fuck. It’s also called Greening Out.
I, myself, once managed to eat a half can of cake frosting and an entire package of Archway iced oatmeal cookies after smoking some weed a kindly group of people gave me while waiting at a Brooklyn bus stop.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to deal with Consequences of Accidental Overconsumption:
- Vape some CBD. This will have an immediate calming effect on your excessive high.
- Chew a black peppercorn. Really. We’ve seen people do this and it works.
- Hydrate. This means drink lots of water, not lots of beer.
- Get somewhere quiet. No overstimulation.
- In that vein, watch something fun and light or listen to some nice music. No Game of Thrones, no Walking Dead, no Pink Floyd. Seriously. The Wall will just fuck you up even farther.
- Tell a friend how you’re feeling, and ask them to remind you that nothing bad is going to happen.
- Take a bath or a shower (if you can get into the bathroom without tripping and banging your head on something).
- Eat some protein. Do not eat a half can of cake frosting and an entire package of Archway oatmeal cookies. You will regret it in the morning.
- Go to sleep.
All that said, if you’re throwing up, have a seriously elevated heart rate, can’t move, or are having hallucinations, and none of the aforementioned remedies are working, there’s no shame in going to the emergency room. Also, if you already have schizophrenia and psychosis, then you should probably lay off the weed, as there is some concern that it could exacerbate your condition.
Mostly though, start slow, take care of the people around you, and try to enjoy the ride!