Just because someone is using marijuana doesn't mean they're interested in the psychoactive effects of THC. Many people, especially medical marijuana patients, may only need the relaxation or pain relief that comes with cannabis use without the 'high.'
Even if you enjoy the psychoactive properties of THC, it's still possible to get too high and feel uncomfortable or anxious. Everyone's different, and you could feel the effects more acutely than anticipated.
If this happens, here are some practical tips to help you return to a more manageable and pleasant state of mind.
What Affects a Person’s High?
Everyone's body is different and will process THC differently. Some people may find that they're more sensitive - others may find that they need a little more cannabis than most to feel the desired effects.
You also build up a tolerance to THC over time, especially with heavy use. So your first-ever joint is likely going to result in much more pronounced effects than a pre-roll will provide after smoking weed every day for several weeks.
Many other factors can affect your sensitivity to THC's psychoactive effects.
- Your age and physical condition,
- Your metabolism,
- Your tolerance to THC,
- The particular strain of cannabis (some may be grown for high-THC concentrations),
- The type of cannabis product (edibles, for instance, are much more potent per mg of THC; smoking flower has a faster onset, etc.),
- How hungry or thirsty or tired you feel,
There is also something called the "Entourage Effect" that could affect your high. In short, this is when the various combinations of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids and terpenes found in marijuana interact with one another to produce different effects.
Can You Overdose on Marijuana?
Yes, it is possible to overdose on cannabis; however, not in the traditional sense. When most people say "overdose," they typically refer to a fatal overdose. It is virtually impossible to consume a lethal dose of marijuana. It is theoretically possible, but you'd need to consume approximately 40,000 joints in a 15-minute window to consume enough to put your life at risk from cannabis alone.
While a lethal overdose is not in the cards, that doesn't mean a marijuana overdose isn't real. Consuming too much cannabis, mainly if it contains high concentrations of THC, can cause several uncomfortable and unpleasant side effects.
If you take too high of a dose of THC, you can feel anxious, paranoid, agitation, nauseous, immobile, or exhausted. These adverse effects can also depend on the kind of product you are using or the method of consumption. For example, edibles are typically much more potent per mg of THC because, when eaten, THC is processed differently in the body. Not only that but because edibles are ingested orally, too high of a dose may produce more stomach or digestive-related side effects such as nausea or vomiting.
Potentially overdosing on CBD (the other most prominent cannabinoid in marijuana) is even less likely than overdosing on THC. The World Health Organization claims that enormous amounts of CBD would need to be consumed to even start feeling adverse reactions. They state in their report, CBD Critical Review Report:
"[CBD] has no effect on a wide range of physiological and biochemical parameters or significant effects on animal behavior unless extremely high doses are administered (e.g., above 150 mg/kg iv as an acute dose or above 30 mg/kg orally daily for 90 days in monkeys).”
What are the Symptoms of Being Too High?
So, what are the symptoms to look out for of being too high or consuming too much marijuana?In the same way that marijuana consumption can produce a wide range of effects from person to person, the adverse effects also differ across different users.
Nevertheless, there are some common adverse symptoms associated with being too high. These include:
- Increased heart rate
- Anxiety or sudden mood swings
- Paranoia and panic attacks
- Nausea and vomiting
The adverse effects you feel could also differ depending on the consumption method and product type. Edibles may be more likely to produce digestive or stomach-related symptoms. Smoking too much flower or taking too large a dab could produce anxiety, lethargy, excessive dizziness, or paranoia. In addition, when consuming high-THC products, such as concentrates or top-shelf flower, too much too quickly could make you feel weak or give you a nasty head rush.
If you or a friend becomes very pale or sweaty after smoking, you may have smoked too much too quickly. Known as the "Marijuana Grays," you may feel very uncomfortable and intoxicated while your body processes the excess cannabinoids.
In rarer circumstances, the symptoms of a THC overdose could include cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. This is characterized by severe vomiting and stomach pain after cannabis use.
Even less likely, and typically only occurring in people with personal or family histories of psychosis or mental health disorders, too much THC could produce marijuana-induced psychosis, or MIP. MIP goes beyond the typical anxiety or paranoia of being too high. Instead, MIP is characterized by paranoid delusions, grandiose sense of self, hallucinations, dissociation, disorganized/disturbed thoughts, and unusual behavioral changes, among other symptoms. As a result, cannabis use is typically not recommended for individuals with a diagnosis or history of psychosis.
Finally, what about Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 THC is similar to Delta-9 THC (the cannabinoid found in cannabis), but Delta-8 is derived from hemp. Therefore, delta-8 THC must be manufactured from hemp-derived CBD and is often sold as a "diet THC" of sorts. The effects of Delta-8 THC are similar, albeit weaker than ordinary THC. Hence, Delta-8 overdose symptoms are practically identical to regular weed.
How to Stop Being HighSo, what should you do if you've used too much cannabis and you want to stop feeling high?
There are many methods you can try to help sober up quicker than usual. Here are a few of the simplest and most effective:
✔ Stay hydrated & drink plenty of waterFirst and foremost, if you feel the effects of your last dose too strongly, you should try drinking plenty of water. Cannabis leaves many consumers feeling dehydrated, which can increase stress levels, impede serotonin (a vital mood-related neurotransmitter) production, and even diminish energy in the brain. This may be one reason some consumers feel anxious or uncomfortable after smoking marijuana. By drinking water and rehydrating, you can help lower stress and feel calmer.
✔ Eat snacksAlong with drinking plenty of water, you can try eating some snacks to help sober you up faster. You may already have snacks laid out given weed's propensity to cause "the munchies." Some studies have found that certain foods – like black pepper – may help suppress the effects of THC. So if you’re feeling too intoxicated, try a savory snack with a little pepper on top. The terpenes found in black peppercorns appear to bind to the same receptors in the brain that THC does. As such, replacing THC with these terpenes in your endocannabinoid system could potentially offset the effects of weed and, by extension, help sober you up. That said, there are snacks to look out for if you're trying to sober up. Some foods may do just the opposite and actually enhance the effects of THC. If you're trying to sober up from weed, you should avoid eating anything with mango, hops, lemongrass, thyme, or guava melon. These foods are rich in myrcene, a terpene that may boost the psychoactive effects of THC.
✔ Take IbuprofenA recent study on mice found that Ibuprofen and other drugs that inhibit COX-2, an enzyme responsible for inflammation in the body, may suppress the psychoactive effects of THC. Researchers found that Ibuprofen and similar medications seemed to douse the THC high while maintaining many of the effects in the body, such as pain and inflammation relief. While the early results are promising, it’s important to note that until comparative research is conducted on human subjects, we cannot make conclusive claims about Ibuprofen and marijuana.
✔ Have a cup of joeFinally, our last piece of advice to help you sober up from weed is to have a cup of coffee. Not only will caffeine help wake you up and counterbalance marijuana's tendency to work as a depressant, but the coffee itself may play a role in suppressing the endocannabinoid system in the body. Consuming cannabis boosts your body's production of endocannabinoids, resulting in the iconic “high” effect. However, drinking coffee appears to do the opposite. According to a study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, subjects who drank several cups of coffee daily had fewer endocannabinoid chemicals in their system. So, grab a cup of joe if you want to sober up faster.
ConclusionThere are many reasons you may feel too intoxicated after a dose of cannabis. If that’s the case, remember that the side effects of a cannabis overdose are typically very tame and short-lived. Likewise, there are steps you can take to feel calm and relaxed if the effects come on too strong.
The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.