It’s common knowledge that people can’t technically overdose on cannabis, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to consume more than necessary. This unpleasant experience is referred to in smoking circles as “Greening Out”. It’s certainly not the worst thing that could happen to you, but at the time you may feel differently.
There are lots of things worse than greening out, like wars or poverty, but that doesn’t take away from the fact it’s a garbage side effect of an otherwise wonderful product. Sure, anything that brings joy can bring pain, but over-ingesting weed presents a unique set of shitty symptoms.
For anyone who has managed to avoid the experience, greening out is the feeling of nausea and distress that occasionally comes after consuming too much weed. Please keep in mind that even if you do green out, which some people describe as a “marijuana overdose”, it is physically impossible for someone to die as a result of consuming just cannabis. Nevertheless, some greening out symptoms to watch out for are:
- Paranoia, fear and anxiety
- Heavy limbs/lack of mobility
- Increased heart rate
- Disorientation/lack of focus
- Upset stomach/nausea
The symptoms can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 6 hours; it varies just like a regular marijuana high. If cannabis is the only substance you’ve used, then the symptoms will go away on their own without any professional intervention. If you’ve been drinking or using harder drugs as well, you might need to seek medical care. Symptoms are often worse if other substances were used along with the cannabis. So if you’ve been drinking or using anything else, take it easy with the ganja at first.
It’s also important to note that Greening Out depends on which of the two substances you take first. For instance, smoking marijuana first and then having a drink probably won’t send you to the “green out”, however drinking first and then smoking cannabis might.
A recent study found that this might be because of the way THC interacts with our endocannabinoid receptors. THC and other cannabinoids (the active constituents of cannabis) act on a specific receptor in the brain—sensibly named the Cannabinoid Receptor. This receptor is actually naturally activated, although to a much lesser degree, by a neurotransmitter called anandamide, a molecule that plays a role in pain, depression, appetite, memory, and fertility. But when it’s excessively activated it makes you feel sick in this way.
Generally, weed potency has increased over the past few decades due to more sophisticated cultivation and breeding. Products like hashish (dried resin) and hash oil are also significantly more potent than dried leaves and tops.
How to prevent greening out?
Everybody reacts differently to cannabis, so greening out is more likely to happen to some people than others. Most people who have smoked before will know how much it takes to get them high, and no, bodyweight is not a factor at all.
If you’re the type of person that only needs a couple of hits to get high, don’t let people pressure you into smoking more. Even if they make fun of you for being a “lightweight”, think about how much more embarrassing it would be to have a mental breakdown and start vomiting in the middle of a smoke session. With that in mind, know your limits and stand your ground.
Being well-fed and hydrated before smoking can also help prevent greening out. Just like drinking alcohol on an empty stomach, smoking weed without any nutrients in your body could make the effects stronger. And speaking of alcohol, being drunk or using prescription drugs could lead to greening out if you add cannabis to the mix. If you have anything else in your system, always start off with just a hit or two of weed and wait it out to see how your body reacts.
It’s also important to be very careful when trying edibles. The dosage levels can be difficult to monitor in them, which frequently leads to people consuming way too much and having a rather unpleasant high.
If you’re ever in a situation where you or someone you know is greening out, there’s really not much you can do except create a soothing environment and wait it out. Panicking will make everything worse and render you unable to concentrate.
Calming lights, your favourite music or TV show, or even meditation are all great ways to relax when you’re greening out. Definitely stay hydrated and don’t ever deny your munchies, getting nutrients into your body can help you calm down.