Can you Overdose on Marijuana?

Cannabis, or marijuana, is one of those things that rarely leaves the realm of politics. State governments and voters are having to make the decision to allow medical marijuana or to legalize it outright.

So far, 28 states have legalized medical marijuana for certain conditions and eight states along with the District of Columbia have legalized it recreationally. Even with all of this happening, there is still a lot of misinformation about the drug out there. One of the biggest questions is whether it is possible to overdose on marijuana.

The answer is not what a lot of advocates want to hear – and that is yes. It is possible to overdose on marijuana – but it is not possible to have a fatal overdose. That’s right. Since authorities first started keeping track, there have been no fatalities reported and attributed to cannabis alone.

Know the Proper Dosage

That said, you might want to know about marijuana overdoses and the proper dosage for you. We will be going over that in a bit, but first a few words on overdosing, or “greening out” and its symptoms and what you can do to treat and prevent it.

First, let’s explain why it is possible to overdose and pass away from heroin or opioids, but not on cannabis. Opioids go to receptors in the brainstem – the same area that controls many of the body’s important functions – like telling your lungs to breathe. When a person overdoses on an opioid, they typically pass out and the body “forgets” to breathe.

The receptors that cannabis affects and binds to are called cannabinoid receptors and are located in other areas of the brain such as the hippocampus and the cerebellum. Not so much in the brain stem, which is why alcohol and opioids can cause a fatal overdose and cannabis cannot.

That said, it is very possible to overdose – or take too much – marijuana. It’s called “greening out” among those who smoke often. The effects, which are listed below, are temporary and will not cause permanent disability. Once the marijuana begins to wear off, so will the overdose effects. Someone who has not smoked before or who has not smoked in a long time may be more susceptible to overdose and may experience one or more of the symptoms below:

  • Temporary feelings of fear, paranoia, and increased anxiety
  • Vomiting and/or nausea
  • Shaking that is hard to control
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pupil dilation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Disorientation or hallucinations
  • Hangover

With all of this said, the best treatment is fluids and rest. Make the person comfortable and with time, the symptoms should begin to wear off. Keep an eye on the person – if they begin to display symptoms such as difficulty breathing or fast heart rate or if they become responsive, contact emergency personnel.

Why is it impossible to overdose fatally on marijuana? That has to do with the lethal dose factor. In order for a human to fatally overdose on marijuana, they would have to take 40,000 times the amount it took them to get high in the first place. So, if you get high over half a joint, it’s going to take 20,000 joints before you fatally overdose and that must all be consumed within a few hours. To compare, take alcohol. It would only take 5 to 10 times the amount it took to get a person drunk to have them experience a lethal overdose. So, if you can get drunk off of 3 beers, it would only take 15-30 beers before you are in danger of dying of an alcohol overdose.

THC vs. Phytocannabinoid Dosage

So, now you’re probably wondering what a good dosage of marijuana is. The best answer is that it varies – by whether you’re consuming buds, wax, using a dry herb vaporizer, edibles, THC, or Phytocannabinoids, and your individual tolerance level. An experienced smoker might have a higher dosage than someone new to cannabis.

Here are some suggested dosages for differing cannabis products:

Smoking Buds – For a novice, start with 0.25 grams packed into a bowl or rolled into a joint. See how you feel. If you feel like you need more, take a few more puffs.

Edibles – When it comes to edibles, a single dose is 10 mg of either THC or Phytocannabinoids. If you take a dose – wait at least 2 hours, because it can take this long to kick in. If you still do not feel relief after 2 hours, increase in 5mg increments until you find the dose that provides you with relief. It is much easier to overdose on edibles than smoking or using a dry herb vape.

BHO & Other Compounds – These are typically sold in 0.5 a 1 gram quantities. However, a ‘dose’ is measured by size rather than by weight. A 0.5 gram of BHO should provide 20 servings.

When it comes to Phytocannabinoid oil, it depends upon what the patient needs relief for:

For General Health – 2.5 to 15mg of Phytocannabinoid oil by mouth daily

For Chronic Pain – 2.5 to 20mg of Phytocannabinoid oil by mouth daily

For Sleep Disorders – 40 to 160mg of Phytocannabinoid oil by mouth daily

These are just guidelines. If you plan on treating a condition with medical marijuana, make sure that you consult with a cannabis-savvy physician.

So, there you have it. While it is impossible to overdose fatally on marijuana, it is possible to take enough that you negate the benefits and make yourself feel bad for a good while. Just take it easy, and if you’re new to cannabis, the best advice is to start with the smallest dose possible and gradually increase until you get the relief you desire.

Author: Michael is a marketing and creative content specialist at with primary focus on customer satisfaction. Technology and fitness combined to healthy lifestyle obsession are his main talking points.

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1 Comment
  1. james says

    Tell me one person who has died from it

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