We’ve all been there: that moment when you realize you’ve huffed down one hit too many, that one wee toke over the line.
Yes, marijuana overdose is possible – depending on how you define “overdose.” But just how much is too much? And what happens if you overdo it with the THC?
First, let’s consider some facts. Almost everyone with a brain knows marijuana doesn’t kill people. Ever. No matter how much you take, no matter what form you take it in, no matter how fast you do it, you can’t kill yourself with cannabis.
In theory, and only in theory, it would take roughly 1,500 pounds of dried pot, smoked in less than an hour, to kill a person, but the body will revolt long before that point. That’s because over-consumption can have some nasty effects that aren’t purely theoretical.
What are the effects?
They include blackouts (rare), vomiting (rare), and panic attacks (less rare). Vital signs may increase slightly, but there are no recorded examples of any of these symptoms leading directly to death. People with underlying health conditions may be at some risk of dying from the combination of weed and heart troubles, but even that happens only in severe cases.
Still, not everyone is prepared for the blunt force of high-dose THC. Just ask Maureen Dowd. The New York Times columnist famously tripped on too much cannabis chocolate and endured a full-blown panic attack.
Dowd’s rather hysterical recounting of the experience pointed to two other incidents involving alleged marijuana overdose. In one, a foreign exchange student ate several pot cookies in Colorado before jumping to his death. In the other, a man claimed he was high on THC candy when he shot his wife. His claim was never proven.
Overdose limits depend on the person
It’s impossible to gauge exactly how much cannabis a person would have to smoke in order to overdose. The results would vary widely from person to person, strain to strain, and batch to batch.
It’s much easier to measure consistent doses when making edibles or liquid cannabis concentrates. Most retailers now sell edibles in doses of no more than 100 milligrams of THC. Portions are typically packaged separately, making it less likely that inexperienced users will eat too much.
It’s also possible to find servings that contain 250 milligrams or even 500 milligrams of THC. High Times Magazine recently wrote about a rare 1,000-milligram marijuana chocolate bar.
The effects of such a large dose could be severe, at least temporarily. But some longtime users with high tolerance may have little trouble with it. That said, we don’t recommend chowing down on 1,000 milligrams of THC unless you’re a hardcore stoner.
So yes, even though marijuana is the safest recreational drug available, it can cause problems if you take too much of it. Of course, one man’s “too much” is another man’s wake and bake, so it’s all relative. But everyone has a breaking point.
The best way to avoid trouble is to pace yourself. Eat edibles slowly, one portion at a time, and wait at least an hour for effects to take hold. If you smoke, do some research on available strains so you’ll know how much THC you’re getting.
Above all, use the really powerful stuff only in a safe setting, off the road and away from heavy machinery. That way, if things take a turn for the worse, you’ll come to in a happy place.