The fact that there’s such a thing as too much weed is one of the great tragedies of this world. But it’s almost a rite of passage these days, overdosing on weed that is, and almost every stoner could tell you stories of the time they got way too high and did some dumb stuff. Either you smoked a blunt for the first time, got your mind blown like a kid tasting sugar for the first time and went all Snoop Dogg on it.
Or maybe you chowed down on a pot brownie and had another one a couple of minutes later because the first one clearly wasn’t working. While we may joke about it later, it’s never funny when it’s actually happening. In fact, for some people, an overdose of THC is a downright terrifying experience and many of them have ended up in the emergency room from relentless anxiety and paranoia.
Let’s first make something clear: no one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana. If you were to keel over from smoking too much or having one too many pot cookies, you’d wake up a couple of hours later after the THC runs its course through your system. Unlike a few other drugs, an overdose of THC won’t kill you.
Don’t believe me? Here’s what the National Cancer Institute has to say,” Because cannabinoid receptors are not located in the brainstem areas controlling respiration, lethal overdoses from cannabis and cannabinoids do not occur.”
How do you know you’re too high?
If you’re an experienced user, you’ll definitely be able to tell whether you’ve had a little too much. For someone who’s trying marijuana for the first time, whether they’re smoking it or eating it, the experience could completely turn them off weed. THC in itself isn’t so bad, and although it won’t kill you in high doses, you’ll definitely be uncomfortable for a while. Let’s see how you might feel after taking a tad too much of the herb.
Exhaustion is one sign, but more often than not, it’s the sleep-inducing properties of THC working behind the scenes, trying to put you down. A normal dose might leave you feeling relaxed and sleepy, but an overdose will bring all the sleepiness with none of the relaxation. On top of that, THC has been found to reduce sleep quality, so it won’t be a particularly restful sleep.
Extreme anxiety or paranoia. If you’ve ever been out and about while high, chances are you got a little paranoid once or twice. Is that guy looking at me? Where’s my phone? What do I usually do with my hands, swing them, put them in my pockets? It’s a sad reality stoners everywhere have had to accept. Now imagine taking that effect and doubling it or even tripling it.
Some people have gotten so anxious and paranoid from an overdose that they’ve had to go to the emergency room.
Rapid heartbeat. Granted, cannabis does increase the heart rate, but the effect usually wears off with constant use. If it doesn’t, the heart rate usually drops in an hour or so and goes back to resting state.
Okay, now we’ve established that you’re a little too high. Your heart’s racing like crazy, you feel a little sick in your stomach and it seems like there’s a conspiracy out there against you. The one that guy in the Da Vinci Code was talking about. Oh, and your heart is just about to explode because that’s a thing that happens sometimes. What do you do?
What came first, the egg or the chicken? How can I ask you to relax when you’re in the middle of a major freak out and the last thing you could possibly do is relax? It’s like working out, you have to push through those last brutal reps for it to really count. Even though it seems like the world is ending, it really isn’t. It’s just a lot of THC wreaking havoc in your endocannabinoid system.
The only thing you need is time. Enough time for the THC to dissipate from your system and for the symptoms to die down. Take a beat, take a couple of deep breaths, especially if you’re feeling dizzy. Deep belly breaths for a minute or listening to some familiar music (sing along) will help you focus and keep you in the moment.
Have some water.
A glass of water can take you out of many a jam. While it’s not an instant cure, it restores a little balance to the body. On top of that, we all know that marijuana can leave you with a pretty dry mouth. It will be one less thing to worry about.
Try some CBD.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabinoid that’s produced alongside THC by marijuana. Unlike THC, it isn’t psychoactive, and it’s said to have a lot of medical uses. While the jury’s still out on whether CBD can counteract a high, there is evidence that it can reverse some of the symptoms.
For instance, CBD has made a name for itself as a natural anti-anxiety medicine. It also exhibits an interesting relationship with THC, enhancing its painkilling properties while suppressing the paranoia it sometimes causes.
In his book, Smoke Signals, Martin. A. Lee says that CBD interacts with THC in complex ways, diminishing certain effects while augmenting others. “Cannabidiol balances the buzz and softens the euphoria, or in some cases, dysphoria, induced by THC, which in concentrated form can make people feel very loopy and weird. CBD is the yin to THC’s yang.”
Plus, cannabidiol is a champ at inducing sleep, so you’ll be able to get some rest and wake up fresh and symptom-free.
Try some black pepper.
Sounds crazy, right? Well, I thought so too the first time I heard about it, but there’s actually some truth to it. Years ago, Howard Stern interviewed music icon Neil Young, and he mentioned that he hadn’t touched marijuana in years as it made him paranoid. Neil Young had this to say, “Try black pepper balls if you get paranoid. Just chew two or three pieces.”
It actually works, with even a small whiff from the shaker punching through the fog of anxiety and panic almost instantly.
A scientific review on the phenomenon published in the British Journal of Pharmacology states that THC and black pepper have similar chemical traits. According to the paper, black pepper has a ‘phytocannabinoid-terpenoid effect’, which helps with pain, depression, addiction, and anxiety.
When combined with THC, it leads to a synergistic chemical reaction on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain that results in a calming effect.
Lay down for a while.
So you messed up, smoked too much weed or ate one too many cookies, and you’re pretty sure you’ll be high for days. Find a calm, quiet place where you can lie down. The high may be very uncomfortable, but remember that it will dissipate. Close your eyes and take a couple of breaths, focusing on the sound of your breathing.
Bonus points if you actually fall asleep. Most of the time, getting your mind to shut down so you can sleep is the hardest part. But like computers, humans also reset after a period of rest, and falling asleep is akin to flipping your off button.
Take a walk.
Fresh air, a change of scenery, and a little cardio will get your blood pumping and invigorate you. Lucky you if there’s a nice, cool breeze blowing. Don’t go too far though, you’re still intoxicated, and you shouldn’t wander off. It’ll probably kick-start your anxiety once you realize you’ve walked way too far. If you’re feeling too dizzy, lie down for a while first.
A lot of the time, fixating on how high you are makes you more anxious, and the more anxious you get, the more worried you are about your state of inebriation, and the nasty cycle goes on and on until you start feeling like your heart is going to explode.
So, distract yourself. Find ways to occupy your mind while the THC runs its course through your system. You could watch a funny cartoon (bonus points if it’s one you saw in your childhood), listen to a funky playlist, talk to your friends or even play a video game. The goal is to give your brain something to fixate on instead of your current state, so opt for something you’re familiar with and enjoy doing.
An overdose of THC is one of those things that seem scarier than they really are. Just know that you definitely won’t die, the world won’t end and you’ll be alright. You could drink water or try some black pepper or use CBD. There are tons of CBD products out there, so make sure you buy a high-quality product that meets industry standards.
A change of scenery and some fresh air also helps, but if you’re feeling too dizzy, lie down and rest. Sleep is the ultimate cure, so make sure you get lots of sleep and you’ll wake up feeling fresh.