Following the legalization of weed across the states as well as the global pandemic (Covid-19), cannabis use has significantly increased for both medical and recreational purposes.
Among the many cannabis products, edibles are some of the most popular ones for many users. A lot of people like their long-lasting effects and the reduced risk of throat and lung irritation caused by smoking. Plus, you can find them in any shape and form in dispensaries.
Despite their convenience, edibles can be tricky, especially for beginners. With the increased cannabis use, visits to the emergency room due to side effects have also increased. Users who have ingested a little too much can experience intense and unpleasant side effects that can even be frightening for some.
So, despite all the benefits of relaxation and known health effects of weed, users often wonder if it’s possible to fatally overdose if you eat too much weed, which is exactly what we’ll talk about in today’s article.
Why You Should Be Careful With Edibles
Edibles are some of the best cannabis products ever created. However, edibles are also in their own lane because of the way the cannabinoids get absorbed in the body when you ingest weed.
For reference, when inhaling weed (through smoking or vaping), the cannabinoids THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) enter the bloodstream directly through the lungs. From here, they’re carried to the brain where they attach to the cannabinoid receptors. And then you start to feel the effects. All of this takes 10-15 minutes, but in order to really feel the effects, you’ll have to wait much longer than that.
When you eat an edible, it has to be digested first, because it’s essentially food. Once it’s ingested, it travels to the liver where it gets metabolized and sent back into the bloodstream from where it finally reaches the brain. All of this takes at least 30 minutes to an hour.
So, a lot of users can make a rookie mistake of not waiting at least an hour before they feel the effects – and take another brownie or cookie. After a while, both will hit at once and for a lot of users, it could be overwhelming.
Is Eating Too Much Weed Deadly?
When it comes to weed, a lot of people think of it as a happy and relaxing substance that can’t be harmful, unlike other commonly used substances, like opioids. And indeed, cannabinoids have health benefits that are increasingly recognized and their calming effects make it a favorite. Still, like many things, weed isn’t perfect, and too much of it can cause adverse reactions.
You’ll be relieved to hear that it’s highly unlikely to fatally overdose on edibles or weed in any form for that matter. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), there haven’t been any reports of deaths from a cannabis overdose so far.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t go seriously overboard and experience some very unpleasant adverse effects. This type of marijuana overdose is not fatal, but it can be quite frightening.
There are many cannabinoids in weed, but THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid, is thought to produce unpleasant side effects. The effects of THC on the brain can be quite intense, so when you take too much, it can be overwhelming and you’ll experience all sorts of sensations. These are temporary, of course, but while it’s happening, it can feel like it will last forever.
What Are the Side Effects of Eating Too Many Cannabis Edibles?
Nearly all regular cannabis users have had at least one unpleasant weed edible experience. It’s almost universal with marijuana use. Sometimes because users thought they could handle it, other times by mistake, like eating too many edibles. However it happened, there are some sensations that are commonly felt, such as:
- Dry mouth (cottonmouth)
- Increased heart rate
- Heightened anxiety
- Vomiting (in rare cases)
- Hallucinations and/or psychosis (in rare cases)
By far, having intense anxiety and paranoia, and even experiencing a panic attack is the most common unpleasant sensation felt by cannabis users and it can vary in intensity. The most important thing in this situation is to try to calm yourself down and find a safe spot to stay in. Remember, the feeling is temporary and it will pass in a few hours once the effects start subsiding.
How Many Milligrams of THC Should I Eat?
When it comes to dosing edibles, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all because different people have different THC tolerance levels. Your THC tolerance will increase with time, but it will still be unique to you as each person reacts to weed differently. This applies to both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana users.
That being said, there is only one “rule” and that is to start low and go slow, and this is especially important for first-time users who haven’t built up THC tolerance.
Edibles sold in dispensaries nowadays have the THC content printed on the package and they’re usually sold with one serving containing 5 mg THC. This makes them fairly easy to dose because they can be split into smaller doses. Even though there are no guidelines for dosing, there are some rough estimates depending on how frequently you use weed.
Novice users should start at the lowest effective dose, for example, they can split a 5 mg THC gummy into two and eat 2.5 mg at first and see how it feels. Occasional users can eat between 5-10 mg, while frequent users with higher tolerance can go up to 15 mg. Remember, these are rough estimates and you should discover what works best for yourself.
Homemade edibles are much harder to dose because it’s hard to know the exact amount of THC they contain. In this case, following the “start low, go slow” rule is even more important until you learn how your body reacts. Sure, brownies are hard to resist, but don’t let the taste tempt you. They’re still laced with weed and will get you high.
What To Do When You’ve Had One Too Many Marijuana Edibles
Eating too much weed can’t be helped by any kind of medicine. In this case, time is the best medicine, followed by distractions, a bottle of water, and a safe spot where you can curl up. Being with a friend to help you calm down and distract you can be really helpful, and if you’re alone, turning on the TV or talking on the phone can also help.
If the effects are milder, you can try chewing on black peppercorns because they contain terpenes that mitigate the effects of THC. Same with CBD oil – CBD counteracts the intensity of THC, which is why CBD-dominant strains are usually safer for people who are sensitive to THC.
The most important thing to remember is that you’re not in danger and that even though it doesn’t feel like it, you’re safe.
The Bottom Line – No Fatal Marijuana Overdose, But You Can Still Go Seriously Overboard
The good thing is that no fatal marijuana overdoses have been reported so far, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go overboard and experience all kinds of unpleasant side effects. Heightened anxiety and paranoia are the most common, but you can also experience some physical symptoms like increased heartbeat, motor impairment, and nausea.
That being said, dispensary-bought edibles are much easier to dose because the THC content is always disclosed on the package. With homemade edibles, you’ll have to be more careful. The rule of thumb is to always start with the smallest dose, wait at least an hour, and go up from there.