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Overdosing on Cannabis: What Does It Mean?

A drug overdose, otherwise known as simply overdose or OD, is a condition brought about by ingesting too much of a substance, enough that it causes negative effects on the person. Anyone who’s taking any medication — including medical or recreational marijuana — should be aware of the causes and symptoms of ODing with cannabis.

Is it possible to overdose on cannabis? The short answer is yes. It’s entirely possible to consume too much cannabis to get a negative experience from it. But let’s get something right from the get-go: cannabis overdose does not and has never caused a fatal reaction. In fact, it’s impossible to consume enough marijuana to die from it. A smoker needs to finish 1,500 pounds or more than 680 kilograms of marijuana in just 15 minutes to risk dying from the experience. For edibles to be fatal, a person needs to eat half a gram of pure THC per kilogram of body mass — an amount that is far more than what most people will consume in their entire lifetime.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can completely throw caution to the wind when dosing your cannabis. Keep in mind that taking too much THC can result to a bad trip that is characterized by paranoia, anxiety, dizziness, and vomiting, among others. While these symptoms will eventually and completely disappear, the few hours that you’ll spend feeling them can be quite unpleasant.

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How Much is Too Much?

There are a lot of factors that affect a person’s experience with marijuana, and some people might be able to tolerate more of the substance compared to others. The amount of cannabis you use is important, as well as the ratio of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to cannabidiol (CBD), and weed strain and quality, among other factors. Then, there’s your tolerance level and metabolic rate. If you’re just starting out, it’s best to go with a small amount or a product with low THC percentage. From here, you can gradually increase the amount to get the effect you want.

The way marijuana is consumed also plays a big part on how your experience with the herb will play out. Smoked marijuana is absorbed through the lungs and carried in the bloodstream to the brain. This is a pretty quick process, so you’ll feel the effects of the herb after just a few minutes. At the same time, this results to a high that easily goes away.

Edibles, on the other hand, undergo an entirely different process. Since these are eaten, they have to go through parts of the digestive system and be metabolized by the liver before any change can be felt. This typically takes anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours. The liver breaks down the THC in edibles to a more bioavailable compound that is readily and rapidly absorbed by the body, which then results to a more potent high that takes hours to wear off.

Dosing edibles requires a bit of precision, but it also means that the dose can be fine-tuned to give you the exact effect that you want to have. If you’re consuming store-bought edibles or cooking dishes in your own home using cannabis oil, it’s best to eat a small part first, wait to feel the effects, and eat a bit more to refine the experience. Avoid eating them on an empty stomach, too, so they can be properly and evenly metabolized by the liver.

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What to Do When You’re Having a Bad Experience

Despite taking it slow and easy, it’s still possible to overdose on marijuana. It’s important to calm down if you’re feeling uneasy or anxious. Find a safe, comfortable space to stay in, like a couch, and distract yourself from the unpleasant sensations by watching movies, listening to music, eating, sleeping, or creating art. Drink plenty of water, too. Remember that the experience will end in a few hours, but if you feel like you can’t deal with it anymore, you can always ask a friend for help or seek medical attention. Read our article: 7 Suggested Activities When You've Eaten Too Much Edibles for more information