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Overdosing On Weed

What if you’re healthy and have a low tolerance to marijuana because you’ve barely used it before? Overdosing can be expected if you’re not careful and indulge in a strain you have no business dancing with.

Some say you can’t overdose on weed or that it isn’t harmful like cocaine and heroine. While there is some truth to that it doesn’t mean weed doesn’t have a dark side. Obviously overdosing on heroine or cocaine is a life threatening emergency. OD-ing on marijuana can also be life threatening but that’s usually due to a pre-existing condition. A heart condition can contribute to a dangerous situation if you down a chocolate bar with over a 100mg of Godfather OG. 

If you are concerned with “greening out” as the kids say, be sure to check the percentage of the strain. If it’s close to 20% THC or over then you can expect an intense high. Go easy on it. If it’s closer to 10% you should expect a very mellow high or one that doesn’t last too long. If you want to use marijuana to help with pain or anxiety check out our previous blog, What Are The Best Strains For What Ails You.

This is how it feels green out.

ACUTE OVERDOSE

An acute overdose is the most common and still happens to me from time to time. This can happen when you use a high THC percentage strain. Even if you have a little bit the high can turn into a roller coaster. How long that roller coaster lasts depends on how much you toke. 

Scenario: 

You’re bored. Very bored. You’ve been browsing Netflix for over ten minutes and you try to justify a monthly fee for garbage. All of a sudden you see a movie a guy at work told you about. You’re curious so you start to pack a bowl and hit play.

You suck down a bowl of the devil’s lettuce before the production company’s logo little animation is finished. Now this movie is about to start. A mild coughing fit irritates your lungs so you let it all out. Now you’re already feeling it. You sink into your couch and you try to focus on the movie. For some reason you can’t focus but you haven’t realized it yet. You’re staring at the screen. You’re watching the moving images and hearing the music and sound fx but your mind is in outer space. You start thinking about work. You start thinking about your bank account. You start thinking about your health. You start thinking about the health of your loved ones. You start thinking about your life. Now your heart beat is increasing. You snap out of it for a second and realize you have no idea what’s happening in this film. Your breathing is erratic but you haven’t realized it yet. You’re actually mildly hyperventilating. Just sitting still on the couch you feel like your suffocating. You start breathing deeply trying to relax. With every breath you feel a little better but if you don’t breathe deeply you can feel it start up again. You get up to go to the washroom to splash cold water on your face. You feel a lot better. Was it the water or walking to get the water? Moving around makes you feel relief.

This kind of experience is quite mild and its all cerebral. When THC stimulates your CB1 cannabinoid your brain starts behaving in a way it wouldn’t before. That much we all know. Being a little paranoid is common but how you react to it depends on your mental state.

In a previous article Can Marijuana Affect Serotonin Levels we discussed how THC can stimulate the CB1 receptor. Naturally the brain stimulates CB1 when it needs to control mood or appetite. It can’t stimulate the as strongly as THC so it becomes overstimulated. This can affect your thinking, emotions and your moods which can create large spikes in anxiety. Sweating and dizzyness are also common symptoms of “greening out“.

INTENSE OVERDOSE

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how long you been smoking, there’s always another strain out there than can kick you like a mule. We all know its how much and how potent the strain is. But what does it feel like to really get messed up? 

Scenario:

You’re at your friends house to watch the game. This is a good friend of yours but this friend can’t talk, function or simply exist without marijuana being involved. You know you’ll be crawling out of that place a space cadet but you know what you signed up for.

You know the routine. You sit in his/her living room and the first thing they say is “dude…”. You already know what’s coming next. You look at them and they can’t contain their joy over this new stuff they got. “I just got this new shit- it is caw-ron-nick bro.” If you only you had a dollar for every time you heard that. Beer and sports is good too but the hell with it- lets go to the moon. He/she rolls a tight splif and its time for take off. It’s surprisingly smooth, tasty and smells great. Now you’re excited. 

At first you feel the acute symptoms so you take a walk. You head to the washroom. You still feel weird. You go outside to get some air. Now your friend is asking if you’re ok. For some reason that makes you feel worse. Your heart is beating so fast you think its going to burst out of your chest. Now that scene from The Temple of Doom popped into your head and that’s making you freak out even more. You’re sweating. Your breathing feels like it doesn’t matter. No matter how much air you breathe in it feels like your lungs aren’t absorbing enough oxygen. You are suffocating. Now you think something is really wrong. It’s a very bad feeling that your heart has stopped or is about to stop. You keep checking your pulse but you can’t figure out if it’s too fast or too slow. You are pale. You’re friend keeps asking you if you’re ok and offers you water. You take the water but even swallowing is hard. Due to your erratic breathing you feel light headed. Even your chest is starting to hurt. Is this a heart attack? Is this it? You vow never to touch marijuana again. Because now you’re lying down but the room is spinning. You sit up but the chest pains are still there. You walk around but you’re convinced you are going to collapse.

This is not a heart attack. It’s an anxiety attack. The marijuana triggered it. All you can do is wait it out. Your friend offers you orange juice because he/she read it somewhere that it works if you’re bad tripping. 

Here’s a few things to consider. This scenario might seem like an argument to keep marijuana illegal. That’s not the case. This has happened to me when marijuana was illegal. I’ve suffered anxiety attacks before and without weed’s help. I had no idea where these strains came from or what their name’s meant. When it was illegal you didn’t have the luxury of asking for CBD and THC percentages. In the 90s it was illegal to sell marijuana magazines because they were considered obscene. You could have a shelf full of Hustler and Penthouse but not a book with a marijuana flower on the cover. The education surrounding marijuana was lacking and now we are finally catching up when it comes to mainstream knowledge. If I have trouble sleeping and have anxiety issues I shouldn’t be smoking something that’s 30% THC especially if I’m new to it.  Personally I’ve discovered that I’m sensitive to THC and susceptible to anxiety attacks so now I know to stick to a strain that’s low on THC. And wouldn’t you know it? My insomnia is gone.

Swirly Blue Pipe
Swirly Blue Pipe at LitRhino.ca

OBTUSE OVERDOSE

This is the most intense form of overdosing from marijuana. Please don’t try this at home. Based on true events.

Scenario:

Time to party! You’re at a house party with your boys. Drinks are flowing and of course the joints are being rolled. Mixing alcohol and marijuana is usually a dangerous mix. But you’re young and will live forever so who cares? Besides you don’t want to be bullied and called a Sally so you decide to partake.

Two more guys show up to the party and they are known as the biggest potheads in school. They already look like their messed up so you assume that they took some harder drugs. That’s not the case. “Dude” one of them says to you. “Have you ever done a wall toke?”. You pause for a moment to try and imagine what that could possibly be. Toking means inhaling smoke. Walls are part of a building’s structure. How can these two things possibly be related?  You give up and want the answer immediately. “No” you reply. “What in the name of sweet Jesus is that?”

He explains this crazy process. Three people need to be involved. The one receiving the wall toke and two others to catch you. Catch you from what you are asking? From passing out.

Person A squats in front a wall and starts to hyperventilate. Person B squats in front of you and holds the joint backwards in their mouth (burning cherry in their mouth). Hopefully it’s a tight joint and the cherry stays in one spot. Person A and B join hands in front of their mouths forming a tunnel. Person A and B places their mouth on each side of their clasped joined hands. Person B still has the joint between their lips and blows smoke through their joined hands into Person A’s mouth. Person A inhales and Person B blows smoke and they both stand up slowly. This is called a shotgun toke. When Person A stands up straight against the wall they are to hold the smoke in their lungs as best they can. Person B and Person C use both their hands to put pressure on Person A’s chest for about ten to twenty seconds. Person A will fall and B and C catch them so they don’t get hurt. 

The effect is supposed to be a euphoric dream in a few seconds of unconsciousness but that’s rarely the case so don’t do it. 

Person A gets up off the ground and proceeds to the couch. You sit across from them as your engage in drunken conversations with other people at the party. Person A doesn’t seem to be participating. In fact they just keep staring at you. At first you don’t pay attention but now a few minutes have gone by. You look at them and notice something isn’t right. They aren’t even blinking. You start yelling out their name. You snap your fingers and they are unresponsive. Their eyes are open you can tell there’s nothing going on behind them. Everyone is noticing this now and they are all trying to wake him up. Then all of a sudden he sucks in a huge inhale of air like he was underwater and now he’s come to. He starts freaking out a little bit as he does not remember getting up off the ground and walking to the couch and sitting down. I’m not doctor but people with epilepsy suffer from this and can be considered a seizure.

I’ve seen this happen for myself and I have no idea how these two even heard of a “wall toke”. We were young and stupid. The amount of brain damage that you risk when you do something stupid like this is not worth it. As far as I know he was ok and didn’t suffer any permanent damage but that’s like saying Russian roulette isn’t that bad because the gun went click instead of bang. This type of overdosing goes beyond anxiety and high blood pressure. It’s dangerous and there’s no other way to describe it.

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