Be careful not to rush to judgement here. Consuming too much cannabis is not the same as overdosing. The difference may seem subtle, but it is important to any reasonable discussion.
An “overdose” is fatal or near fatal, and those risks with the consumption of alcohol, opioids, cocaine, and heroin. These influences can radically affect your health and cause addiction.
Cannabis doesn’t do that. It may lead to Cannabis User Dependency (CUD) in people prone to dependency, an important distinction from addiction. And, too many people will abuse anything pleasurable.
ConsumeResponsibly advises, “Fortunately, marijuana is virtually non-toxic to healthy human cells and organs, so you do not need to worry about dying purely from a marijuana overdose. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about overdoing it. Consuming too much marijuana in one sitting can be a very unpleasant experience, and it can happen with any type of marijuana product if you’re not careful.”
But, can you consume too much?
Yes, if smoking or consuming cannabis in other ways makes you sick, you must consider your options. But, what affects you may not affect others in the same way. Each person responds to cannabinoids differently, in part, because of various strains, individual metabolism, and personal physical and mental conditions.
Signs of too much:
You can write off a one-time or occasional burnout like a hangover, an unpleasant but bearable warning. If you are a first time user, you may notice some results you did not expect. That’s why it’s good to use in the presence of others.
You may experience an accelerated heart rate, shortness of breath, and red eyes. You may feel nausea and concern for vomiting. Disorientation, hallucinations, and paranoia may come with some cannabis strains. But, if you feel cold to the point of shaking, you should examine the experience.
The lack of clear standards, quality control, and benchmark labeling complicate the problem. Your age, general health, and marijuana tolerance levels determine your overdose level. But, if you find yourself chasing higher potency cannabis just to produce the same effect, you should look at the usage frequency and dosage.
1. Tremors: Cannabis has proven relief for patients suffering from MS, Parkinson’s, and Intractable Epilepsy. Its anti-spasmodic effects are valued by millions. So, it is ironic that too much cannabis can produce tremors.
The tremors may be short lived, but they may also signal a misfiring of THC and your central nervous system. It could be the neuro-chemistry or hormone modulation. But, it can be a red flag. It may be a warning not to use in combination with tobacco and/or alcohol. And, if you are predisposed to dopamine problems, restless leg syndrome, and/or fibromyalgia, you must look at your THC content.
2. Psychosis: Any stimulant can affect your psychological condition over time. Psychologists and psychiatrists have not clearly defined “psychosis” even though they catalog symptoms. Its range is very broad, but at its worse, it is marked by a loss of connection with reality.
Cannabis users enjoy the euphoria, mood enhancement, and pain relief associated with use. Some even pursue the heightened psychoactivity of potent THC strains. Where research has examined these concerns, it has found evidence of some correlation with schizophrenia in genetically pre-disposed subjects. But, severe paranoia, confusion, and detachment should worry users.
3. Detachment: Walking away from personal responsibilities may result from several factors. But, if you are shifting money from one pocket to another so you can buy, you may be ignoring your responsibilities. If cannabis use helps you miss work, school, or parenting duties, you may have a problem in usage.
The price and frequency of use may indicate too much consumption, but a glaring red flag may be how you detach from social connection with family, friends, and peers. If you find yourself avoiding them or they’re avoiding you, you should look at your level of consumption.
4. Health: If you consume too much cannabis, you will find your health decline. For example, chronic and frequent dosage of high potency cannabis will affect cognitive functions in most people.
A wheezing cough goes with smoking cannabis at the beginning. But, if it deepens and lasts, you should get medical advice on your respiration. It might mean switching your strain or changing to edibles or vaping. Similarly, if eye irritation, nausea, and paranoia increase or continue, you should reconsider your use.
5. Fatigue: Studies on human subjects showed that, when administered CBD, they slept longer. They experienced less wakefulness and dream recall. And, they reported fewer problems on waking. But, consuming too much, too high-CBD potency can sedate to the point of fatigue.
Likewise, using high-THC potency may induce the sleeplessness, agitation, and hypertension that lead to chronic fatigue. Using cannabis, when you already suffer from fatigue syndromes or medical conditions producing fatigue, may nudge you onto some other strain or edible.
What Happens if You Consume Too Much Cannabis?
If you consume alone, you must find a way to list and observe the symptoms and behaviors of concern. If you consume with others, you should solicit their input.
If you don’t like your cannabis experience, you must remain calm and thank your stars that it only lasts for short time. You can lie down, close your eyes, and use a cooling mask. If with others, you should tell them about your discomfort, and if it continues or escalates, you may need medical attention. Calling 9-1-1 or poison control (1-800-222-1222) will connect with someone to talk you down.
Every cannabis consumer should watch their intake. Of course, if you’re consuming too much, you’re the least prepared to assess the situation. As with all things, all things too good can hurt you.
As Gizmodo says, “you should regulate your cannabis intake the same way you do with alcohol, salt, red meat, porn, hyper-porn, and all the other fun things in life that can potentially kill you -- that is, responsibly.”
So, your best test of how you are doing may be to take a cannabis break occasionally. Taking some time off will ease your negative responses. It will let you measure your tolerance, and it will make the next time seem all new again.