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Medical Marijuana Overdose

  1. Aug 21, 2008 #1
    I remember hearing in the news not that long ago that 'marijuana overdoses' have begun cropping up in hospitals due to the extreme increase in THC content of current marijuana breeds. I mentioned this the other day to some people and decided to look it up but all I find when searching 'marijuana overdose' in google is that it is a myth.

    Does any one know anything about this? I was imagining that symptoms would likely be things like; difficulty breathing, weak pulse, black outs, and sudden losses of consciousness.
    While it may not be an overdose in the sense that it is potentially fatal is it possible to develope temporary but dangerous physical problems that are not merely psychosomatic?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 21, 2008 #2
    My uneducated opinion says that if you breathe in a lot of smoke, it will be hard to breathe and you can get the same symptoms you'd get if you had a low oxygen concentration otherwise.

    On the flip side, would it be like holding your breath, where you'd pass out before your body let you do something stupid?

    I don't know. Where are our resident pot heads here? Do we have them?
  4. Aug 21, 2008 #3
    People can have acute panic reactions with use of the drug, and some do seek medical help. I don't know if its considered a overdose, of course back in the day, they called it a "bad trip".
    I have noticed, in the aging population of marijuana smokers, a particular concern in those with coronary artery disease, hypertension and cerebrovascular disease.
    Its known that marijuana does increase the heart beat{tachycardia}.It alters blood pressure, increases myocardial demand and triggers angina in people who have existing medical problems.
  5. Aug 21, 2008 #4
    A couple of things: first, the canard about "much higher THC content in modern pot" is itself a myth. The THC content has not changed substantially. This myth can be traced to a change in the methodology of the government lab that tracks marijuana potency. Prior to some time in the 1980's, they were prohibited from buying marijuana, and so had to depend on donated samples which, unsurprisingly, tended to be of very low quality. So, they were systematically underestimating the THC content by a huge margin. The law was changed in the 1980's to allow them to buy pot for testing, and the results instantly fell into line with reality. No big deal, right? Well, it wouldn't have been if overzealous high school health teachers and guidance councellors hadn't seized onto the apparent (meaningless) increase in tested THC levels as evidence of "stronger modern pot." Probably the urge to do so stems from the fact that around this same time, many former flower children were reaching middle age and struggling to figure out how to justify telling their children not to smoke pot. So, the "strong modern pot" legend was born, and endures to this day. Meanwhile, most people in the US are still smoking the same low-grade Mexican ditch-weed that has been around since who-knows-when.

    As far as actual overdosing goes, a couple of things are worth mentioning: there is a fundamental limit to how high a blood-THC-level you can attain by smoking, but not by eating. This is why people will report different (stronger) effects when eating marijuana/hash than smoking it. So, if it is possible to overdose, you will almost certainly have to do it by eating the drug, and not smoking. Likewise, even if marijuana is stronger than it used to be, the extra THC probably isn't ending up in people's bloodstreams anyway. That said, I've never heard any reports of an actual overdose. It is known to give some people, in some situations, panic attacks, which can be very frightening but are not inherently dangerous. People are also known to faint, although it's unclear if marijuana alone does this, or if it is some combination of that and alcohol and tobacco. The fainting does seem to be physiological, though.

    That said, you would expect that, were it possible to OD, we would have heard of someone doing it by now. There are plenty of people that aren't shy about getting as much THC into their systems as possible, as often as possible, and yet they don't seem to be overdosing. So... I'd say "myth."
  6. Aug 21, 2008 #5
    Unless you are grinding up weed, extracting out its active ingredients, and injecting them into yourself IV, it is literally impossible to OD on THC by eating it because the LD50 value of it is so ridiculously high for oral consumption it would be impossible to obtain that much THC in marijuana and eat it.

    Smoking weed does put stress on the heart. So that might be of some danger. Activation of CB1 receptors can also cause your blood pressure to lower, which is why you might pass out if you over activate them. That being said though, there are far more dangerous drugs out there with more severe side effects that were/are approved by the FDA. It makes you wonder why Marinol is allowed to be sold legally why MJ is illegal even though Marinol takes a longer time to work, is less efficacious, has stronger psychotropic side effects than MJ, and costs 20x's more.
  7. Aug 21, 2008 #6
    Some people get nervous in public that people will observe their highness and that makes them get anxiety. Other times people who have never smoked don't know the effects and get paranoid that they are overdosing even though it is impossible, still the fear causes panic. It is you doing it though, kind of like giving a speech for shy people, same kind of thing.

    As far as long term damage, it isn't good for the lungs breathing smoke. I have heard that people who smoke pot are less likely to get alzheimer's

    http://alzheimers.about.com/b/2006/10/06/marijuana-may-prevent-alzheimers-disease.htm [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  8. Aug 21, 2008 #7
    After actually reading about it I thought that perhaps these reported 'overdoses' were really just panic attacks.

    Apparently a person would have to consume pounds of marijuana to actually reach an overdose level.

    As far as long term effects the only I have heard of is the potential of cancer since there are supposedly more carcinogens in marijuana smoke than cigarrette smoke. Though I would imagine that people tend to smoke far less marijuana than smokers smoke tobacco.
  9. Aug 21, 2008 #8
    The word is still out on that one.


    "All things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose permits something not to be poisonous." -- Paracelsus
  10. Aug 21, 2008 #9
    I think that marijuana can be a good thing if used responsibly in moderation. If you ever are really mad and there isn't a very good reason, a very small does of THC will help you calm down and put things into perspective. I think it gives me ADD though. I think it is stupid when peoples lives revolve around it and they smoke as much as they can to be cool. To me it is like a once a month celebration when I accomplish something difficult like finals.
  11. Aug 22, 2008 #10
    Its defiently impossible to OD by smoking it atleast, one would pass out or vomit "green out" before this would happen in my opinion, I also have some experience haha. I read once that after testing it on mice or it was determined that the lethal dose of thc for an adult male would be something like 80 grams of THC. That is just rediculous think about how many ounces one would have to consume or smoke to get that much THC, very unlikely. Ill poke around and see if I can find this article it was years back though.
  12. Aug 22, 2008 #11
    Not the same article I remember reading but,

    From the durg library,

    "The non-fatal consumption of 3000 mg/kg A THC by the dog and monkey would be comparable to a 154-pound human eating approximately 46 pounds (21 kilograms) of 1%-marihuana or 10 pounds of 5% hashish at one time."

    Keep in mind that dosage was given to a dog and was unfatal.

    And from wikipedia...

    "In order to create a lethal overdose in a human, one would have to consume 1500 pounds in under 15 minutes.[10]"

    Im calling this one busted folks, unless your a rodent.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2008
  13. Aug 22, 2008 #12


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    Blinkie, FYI, OD stands for "overdose". It has nothing to do with a fatal dose.
  14. Aug 25, 2008 #13
    Thanks for the insight.
  15. Aug 28, 2008 #14

    Andy Resnick

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    According to my Merck handbook, the LD50 dose for tetrahydrocannabinols ranges from 800 mg/kg (male rats) for the psychoactive (delta-9) form to 27.5 mg/kg for the delta-8 isomer.

    This translates (for a 100 kg person) to 80 g of THC. I couldn't easily find an estimate for the fractional weight of THC in the plant.
  16. Aug 29, 2008 #15
    Why would a government lab be prohibited from buying marijuana? And why would it matter? The seeds are easy to acquire and growing the plant is simple.
  17. Jun 5, 2009 #16
    I just recently had a marijuana, "overdose" you may say. It was the most unpleasent time of my life. To any one who reads this, please, please, PLEASE know your limits. I thought I was the cool guy with all my buddies so i smoked way over my limits and i ended up in the hospital. It's been the worst week of my life I was almost positive i was going to die. Some things i felt were rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, Paranoia, disorientation, delirium and extreme panic attacks. I still haven't recovered from the incident and it's been almost 5 days and I feel like absolute garbage. I may return to smoking one day but if i do it will be very low amounts.
  18. Jun 6, 2009 #17


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    Perhaps it is best not to smoke at all, just like it's best not to drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
  19. Jun 6, 2009 #18


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    I think most 'overdoses' and hospitalizations attributed to marijuana are actually just inexperienced people getting scared. A police officer once confiscated some marijuana, baked it brownies, and called 911 because he thought he overdosed ("I think we're dying!"):
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  20. Jun 6, 2009 #19


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    I think the overdose really depends of the smoker. For example when I was 16 years old I smoked marijuana with my cousin. I only took about 3 breathes of it. I suddenly lost my hands sensations, I had a very strong loss of memory (couldn't go into the kitchen to drink some water. Every 30 seconds or so I didn't know where I was, in my house. It was really scaring) and my body was shaking itself. I ended up in my bed, thirsty and shaking as if I got really frozen, for about 5 hours. My cousin was just happy and he smoked much more than I. He felt the effects for about 3 hours. (It was pure cannabis we saw growing up, so I'm pretty sure it wasn't any other drug). A few other times I smoked again, and every time I ended with the same symptoms while my friends who were accustomed could handle much more than I.
    I think you can call what I had an overdose, although the dose of THC was somewhat small.
  21. Jun 6, 2009 #20


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    That's not an overdose fluidistic. The things you described are more or less standard effects of smoking marijuana, especially loss of short-term memory, dry mouth, and thirst.
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