Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 17, 2023

Most people’s first-time experience with marijuana is smoking a joint or a spliff, as it’s the most common method of consumption. But many seasoned users also prefer smoking weed because it gets you high fast, it’s fragrant (though sometimes pungent), and very sociable.

We all know that the active ingredients in cannabis are responsible not only for the health effects weed is famous for, but also for some side effects. And speaking of adverse effects, one very common question is whether smoking weed can be fatal in any way. It’s a completely valid concern, so if this is your primary mode of consumption, this article may be of interest.

Can Smoking Marijuana Cause Any Health Problems?

Smoking marijuana hasn’t been linked to any major health risks so far, but we have to take into account the fact that due to the legal state of cannabis, full research is still somehow limited.

Respiratory Health

For all the relaxing and medicinal effects of cannabis, the method of consumption is also important. Smoking marijuana, in particular, is not without its shortcomings. Burning weed releases toxic irritants that could have a negative impact on your throat and lungs. 

Marijuana smoke releases many of the same toxins as tobacco smoke which increases the risk of developing increased mucus production, cough, and even bronchitis. However, it seems like these aren’t long-term effects and they can be resolved if you simply quit smoking marijuana. 

Additionally, unlike tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke hasn’t been linked to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema, which are common complications of smoking. That’s not to say that there are no health risks as conclusive studies on marijuana smoke and respiratory health are lacking.

Cardiovascular Health

Cannabis use, whether by smoking or ingesting it, causes some temporary cardiovascular events that could be problematic for individuals with cardiovascular issues, such as heart disease or high blood pressure. 

When you consume weed, your heart rate temporarily increases, which also increases your blood pressure. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that during the first hour after smoking marijuana, the risk of getting a heart attack is increased by five times. After that hour, the risk quickly goes down. 

Even so, if you have any cardiovascular issues, it’s better to avoid marijuana use, including medical marijuana, as your condition may be a risk factor. Of course, you’re always encouraged to get medical advice if you still want to consume marijuana.

Is Vaping Any Better?

Vaping is getting very popular among marijuana users as a better alternative to smoking. The weed is not combusted but rather heated to your desired temperature, the smoke is cleaner and can be just as dense as smoking from a bong, and you can control your doses puff by puff, just like smoking a joint. But is it really better?

Well, there are caveats to vaping. If you vape e-juice, there might be some health risks, as there have been some concerns that some commonly-used dilutants such as propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol can lead to lung inflammation

However, vaping pure concentrates or dry cannabis flowers seems to be much safer as you’re inhaling a purer form of weed. As you know, vapes heat the weed just enough so that the cannabinoids can be extracted. As there is no combustion, there are no toxins released, like with smoking, and the vapor is much lighter. 

So, it could be said that if you’re prone to throat or lung irritation and don’t want to quit inhaling weed, vaping might be a better alternative.

Can You Die From Smoking Weed?

Being a marijuana smoker, you must have wondered if you can die from smoking weed at least once. The good thing is that according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC), no fatalities have been reported due to marijuana use alone. 

However, you can still overdose on marijuana, even though it’s not fatal. Consuming amounts of weed that are higher than what your body can handle can lead to some adverse effects. And since each person has their own individual marijuana tolerance, this will be unique for you. Marijuana overdose can cause all sorts of weird sensations that can feel really unpleasant and you’ll likely want to avoid them.

Some Side Effects of Marijuana Can Be Very Unpleasant

The side effects of marijuana are largely caused by the main psychoactive cannabinoid, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC overwhelms the cannabinoid receptors in the brain which results in a variety of unpleasant effects with varying intensity.

The most common ones are experiencing dry mouth and feeling very hungry, but there are others that are much more intense and can freak you out, like:

  • Intense anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Motor impairment
  • Confusion
  • Increased heart rate
  • Delusions
  • Nausea or vomiting

Thankfully, however dreadful and intense, the side effects are temporary and are usually not a cause for a trip to the emergency room. Still, if you ever feel like you need medical help, don’t think twice about asking for it. In any other case, trying to calm down and distracting yourself until the effects of weed start dissipating is the best way of dealing with too much THC.

How to Have the Best Experience As a Marijuana Smoker

Even though a marijuana overdose isn’t fatal, you’d probably still want to avoid getting “too high.”

Whether for recreational use or medical marijuana use, having a low THC tolerance increases your risk of experiencing side effects. But if you play it smart and smoke only as much as it gets you comfortably high, you shouldn’t have any major problems. Choosing a strain that’s higher in CBD (cannabidiol), the other major cannabinoid that has therapeutic rather than psychoactive properties will also decrease the risk of an overdose.

Other than that, make sure you’re in a good company – your own company counts! But, if you’re an inexperienced user, getting high with friends is much better, safer, and more fun. Also, don’t mix weed with alcohol but instead prepare some water to prevent getting dehydrated, and prepare your favorite snacks (or a real feast) and just RELAX.

The Takeaway

While any type of substance abuse can cause adverse effects, there haven’t been any reports of a fatal marijuana overdose. Still, smoking marijuana may have a negative impact on cardiovascular and respiratory health, even though there are gaps in the research. Moreover, marijuana can cause other unpleasant side effects which are most often due to overconsumption. Therefore, it’s best to keep your use of marijuana moderate and avoid consuming too much in order to have the best experience.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.