I grew up in the 80’s during the height of Drug War mania with Just Say No programs indoctrinating children in every US school district. We were taught that marijuana was no different than alcohol, cocaine, or heroin in terms of addiction and potential harm to the body. These programs reflected a tone and message similar to the classic Drug War propaganda film, Reefer Madness, where marijuana “addicts” were toking up and committing a number of heinous acts culminating into overdose and death for all involved. Fortunately for cannabis consumers everywhere, it is impossible to overdose and die from weed alone.
Can You Overdose on Marijuana or Dabs?
No, you can’t OD on weed or dabs like you could on other drugs such as alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and legally prescribed pharmaceuticals. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t experience some unpleasant psychological and/or physiological reactions from consuming too much cannabis. According to the CDC, “The signs of using too much marijuana are similar to the typical effects of using marijuana but more severe. These signs may include extreme confusion, anxiety, paranoia, panic, fast heart rate, delusions or hallucinations, increased blood pressure, and severe nausea or vomiting.” It’s important to understand that these specific symptoms, or a combination of symptoms, are not guaranteed when consuming too much marijuana. These observational effects include all reported symptoms from a large group of people.
How Much Weed Does it Take to Overdose?
9 grams of weed? 15 grams? There is no specific, universal amount of cannabis consumption that would cause overdose in any particular individual. The best defense against unpleasant cannabis effects is to understand the ideal dosage for your own personal consumption. This is especially important when considering edibles as they often contain large amounts of THC and a delayed onset of effects due to the time it takes the body to digest the edible. If you’re uncertain about the amount of THC you should consume, start with small amounts such as 5-10mg of THC with edibles, or 1-2 hits of smokable flower, and slightly increase until you feel the ideal comfort level and effect. Cannabis concentrates such as dabs or wax should be avoided initially when discovering your ideal dose as they have the highest concentrations of THC.
While consuming high amounts of THC can hinder physical mobility, there is no evidence of weed causing comas. Consuming too much cannabis may result in the dreaded yet often preferred couch lock, but it will not cause unconsciousness for an indefinite period of time. You will always wake up and recover, even after smoking the most sedating indica strain.
Can Weed Cause Death?
No, you cannot die from marijuana use. Weed alone has never killed anyone, as there is no direct evidence linking marijuana consumption to death. The act of ingesting weed itself will not cause death, because the amount required to reach lethal toxicity is physically impossible to consume. According to a 1988 United States Administrative Law Hearing, “A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response.” Though it is important to advise, marijuana intoxication may impair judgement or the ability to operate a motor vehicle, which could lead to bodily harm or death.
Fatal toxicity has never been a concern with cannabis consumption. The most salient drug overdose concerns in the US today come from legal prescription medications and illicit opiates such as heroin and the extremely potent fentanyl. These drugs have physiologically addictive potential as well as practical toxicity, unlike cannabis. While long overdue, we must absolutely focus public health resources on combating opiate and prescription drug addiction instead of marijuana.