You may have been using weed for a while now and you may even have the habit of lighting up a bong from time to time. Or you may be smoking weed recreationally to take the edge off every once in a while. But what happens when those social nights turn into you being alone in your room vaping until the early hours of the morning?
With the legalization of medical marijuana and marijuana for recreational use in countries around the world, cannabis use is on the rise. For example, Colorado, where weed has been legal since 2014, has had an increase in cannabis use. As a result of weed being available at local dispensaries, stoners can find all kinds of cannabis products, from edibles like weed brownies to dabs and vaporizers. That often results in even more people consuming marijuana.
Studies done in Canada as well as England and Wales show an increase in cannabis consumption among teenagers and young adults. (Alexandra M E Zuckermann et al (2019), National Statistics Drug Misuse (2013). But how much weed is too much? And what are the side effects of marijuana abuse?
Read on to find out.
Marijuana Use, What Is the Appeal?
People have been using cannabis for thousands of years. One of the main reasons users consume marijuana is the psychoactive and relaxing effects that it produces. This plant has also been used in religious Hindu ceremonies (bhang – a drink made from the cannabis plant), for its medical benefits, as well as recreationally, for its psychoactive properties.
The cannabis plant contains over 400 chemicals divided into different chemical groups like amino acids, terpenes, hydrocarbons, sugars, nitrogenous compounds, as well as the most important chemical group – the cannabinoids.
Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana. The other important cannabinoid found in weed is Cannabidiol (CBD), which is used for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
THC and CBD, as well as the other cannabinoids, interact with the cannabinoid receptors in our bodies (CB1- present in the nervous system, and CB2- present in the immune system) and produce the high after consumption. Depending on the THC levels in your weed, it may take anywhere from 30 minutes up to 2 hours for the weed to kick in, and for you to experience the first effects of your high.
But How Much Weed Is Too Much?
Raw cannabis can’t get you high given that decarboxylation is needed for weed to achieve its psychoactive effects. Heating the cannabis by burning, vaping, or cooking it can activate and transform THCA into THC.
After decarbing, people can use weed by inhaling it, ingesting it, or using topicals. Different methods of consumption can result in different THC levels in weed. The levels of THC and its effects on marijuana users are higher when consuming edibles or using tinctures and oils, meaning you can experience more intense and longer effects.
The question of whether you have consumed too much weed can depend on a few factors:
- How tolerant you are to THC (beginners may want to start with a lower amount of THC);
- How much weed you consume;
- How potent the strain you’re using is;
- Topping off in a short amount of time;
- The percentage of terpenes in weed (terpenes can interact with THC and help cannabinoids enter the bloodstream faster).
Because there are no recommended doses when it comes to marijuana use, it’s important that you use it in moderation. It’s best to start with lower doses and increase them slowly to avoid experiencing side effects, especially if you’re a beginner
Side Effects of Marijuana Use
Even though there are no registered cases of cannabis overdose in the world according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cannabis abuse can cause undesired side effects, and we’re not talking about a simple case of the munchies here. No matter if it’s your first time smoking weed or you are a regular user, if you consume more weed than your body can handle, you can experience unwanted symptoms.
These health effects include high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, severe nausea and vomiting, psychosis, panic, paranoia, etc. On the other hand, long term drug abuse can cause serious mental health issues that may require consulting a health care provider. Overconsumption can lead to addiction to weed and, in this case, it can take you a longer period of time to recover and detox your body.
Signs of Marijuana Addiction
If you feel like you have been consuming too much weed and have been starting to experience some side effects, it’s possible that you have become addicted to it, and you may need to get treatment for substance abuse.
Some of the signs of marijuana addiction are:
- Being stoned for several hours during the day on a daily basis.
- Using weed alone often (if previously you’ve only done it as a social activity).
- Not being able to complete commitments and big tasks.
- Finding more reasons to consume weed, and spending more time with people that consume weed.
- Experiencing reckless behavior (driving when high, smoking before going to work);
- Experiencing problems with concentration and memory loss.
- Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal (cravings, mood swings, irritability, sleep difficulty, depression, etc).
If a person experiences a few of the characteristics noted above, it’s very likely that the person is suffering from cannabis addiction. As a loved one or a friend, you can inform yourself about how you can be of assistance to the addicted person and support them as they find the help they need if they want to stop smoking weed.
Marijuana overdose is a highly debated topic, but there is no clear answer as to how much weed is too much. Users should be careful when consuming weed because weed is an addictive drug.
Depending on the method of consumption and how tolerant they are to THC, different people may react differently to the same dose. While some people may experience a pleasant high, others can experience unwanted somatic and mental side effects. Your best option if you do decide to smoke weed, have a vape session, consume edibles, or try a tincture is to use it in moderation so you won’t have a reason to worry about ending up at the emergency room with unwanted side effects.
Zuckermann AME, Battista K, de Groh M, et al Pre Legalisation patterns and trends of cannabis use among Canadian youth: results from the COMPASS prospective cohort study BMJ Open 2019;9:e026515. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026515
National Statistics Drug misuse: findings from the 2012 to 2013 CSEW https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/drug-misuse-findings-from-the-2012-to-2013-csew