Many readers are interested in the following topic: You Might Not Overdose on Cannabis, But You Can Still Overdo It. We are happy to note, that our authors have already studied the modern research about the topic you are interested in. Based on the information provided in the latest medical digests, modern research and surveys, we provide extensive answer. Keep reading to find out more.
Other research suggests an increased risk of preterm births. However, more studies are necessary.
Cannabis (Marijuana) DrugFacts
Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. The plant contains the mind-altering chemical THC and other similar compounds. Extracts can also be made from the cannabis plant (see “Marijuana Extracts”).
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, cannabis (marijuana) is one of the most used drugs in the United States, and its use is widespread among young people. In 2021, 35.4% of young adults aged 18 to 25 (11.8 million people) reported using marijuana in the past year. 1 According to the Monitoring the Future survey, rates of past year marijuana use among middle and high school students have remained relatively steady since the late 1990s. In 2022, 30.7% of 12th graders reported using marijuana in the past year and 6.3% reported using marijuana daily. In addition, many young people also use vaping devices to consume cannabis products. In 2022, nearly 20.6% of 12th graders reported that they vaped marijuana in the past year and 2.1% reported that they did so daily. 2
Legalization of marijuana for medical use or adult recreational use in a growing number of states may affect these views. Read more about marijuana as medicine in our DrugFacts: Marijuana as Medicine.
How do people use marijuana?
People smoke marijuana in hand-rolled cigarettes (joints) or in pipes or water pipes (bongs). They also smoke it in blunts—emptied cigars that have been partly or completely refilled with marijuana. To avoid inhaling smoke, some people are using vaporizers. These devices pull the active ingredients (including THC) from the marijuana and collect their vapor in a storage unit. A person then inhales the vapor, not the smoke. Some vaporizers use a liquid marijuana extract.
People can mix marijuana in food (edibles), such as brownies, cookies, or candy, or brew it as a tea. A newly popular method of use is smoking or eating different forms of THC-rich resins (see “Marijuana Extracts”).
- hash oil or honey oil—a gooey liquid
- wax or budder—a soft solid with a texture like lip balm
- shatter—a hard, amber-colored solid
These extracts can deliver extremely large amounts of THC to the body, and their use has sent some people to the emergency room. Another danger is in preparing these extracts, which usually involves butane (lighter fluid). A number of people have caused fires and explosions and have been seriously burned from using butane to make extracts at home. 3,4
How does marijuana affect the brain?
Marijuana has both short-and long-term effects on the brain.
When a person smokes marijuana, THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. The body absorbs THC more slowly when the person eats or drinks it. In that case, they generally feel the effects after 30 minutes to 1 hour.
THC acts on specific brain cell receptors that ordinarily react to natural THC-like chemicals. These natural chemicals play a role in normal brain development and function.
Marijuana over activates parts of the brain that contain the highest number of these receptors. This causes the “high” that people feel. Other effects include:
- altered senses (for example, seeing brighter colors)
- altered sense of time
- changes in mood
- impaired body movement
- difficulty with thinking and problem-solving
- impaired memory
- hallucinations (when taken in high doses)
- delusions (when taken in high doses)
- psychosis (risk is highest with regular use of high potency marijuana)
Marijuana also affects brain development. When people begin using marijuana as teenagers, the drug may impair thinking, memory, and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions. Researchers are still studying how long marijuana’s effects last and whether some changes may be permanent.
For example, a study from New Zealand conducted in part by researchers at Duke University showed that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and had an ongoing marijuana use disorder lost an average of 8 IQ points between ages 13 and 38. The lost mental abilities didn’t fully return in those who quit marijuana as adults. Those who started smoking marijuana as adults didn’t show notable IQ declines. 5
In another recent study on twins, those who used marijuana showed a significant decline in general knowledge and in verbal ability (equivalent to 4 IQ points) between the preteen years and early adulthood, but no predictable difference was found between twins when one used marijuana and the other didn’t. This suggests that the IQ decline in marijuana users may be caused by something other than marijuana, such as shared familial factors (e.g., genetics, family environment). 6 NIDA’s Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, a major longitudinal study, is tracking a large sample of young Americans from late childhood to early adulthood to help clarify how and to what extent marijuana and other substances, alone and in combination, affect adolescent brain development. Read more about the ABCD study on our Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD Study) webpage.
A Rise in Marijuana’s THC Levels
The amount of THC in marijuana has been increasing steadily over the past few decades. 7 For a person who’s new to marijuana use, this may mean exposure to higher THC levels with a greater chance of a harmful reaction. Higher THC levels may explain the rise in emergency room visits involving marijuana use.
The popularity of edibles also increases the chance of harmful reactions. Edibles take longer to digest and produce a high. Therefore, people may consume more to feel the effects faster, leading to dangerous results.
Higher THC levels may also mean a greater risk for addiction if people are regularly exposing themselves to high doses.
What are the other health effects of marijuana?
Marijuana use may have a wide range of effects, both physical and mental.
- Breathing problems. Marijuana smoke irritates the lungs, and people who smoke marijuana frequently can have the same breathing problems as those who smoke tobacco. These problems include daily cough and phlegm, more frequent lung illness, and a higher risk of lung infections. Researchers so far haven’t found a higher risk for lung cancer in people who smoke marijuana. 8
- Increased heart rate. Marijuana raises heart rate for up to 3 hours after smoking. This effect may increase the chance of heart attack. Older people and those with heart problems may be at higher risk.
- Problems with child development during and after pregnancy. One study found that about 20% of pregnant women 24-years-old and younger screened positive for marijuana. However, this study also found that women were about twice as likely to screen positive for marijuana use via a drug test than they state in self-reported measures. 9 This suggests that self-reported rates of marijuana use in pregnant females is not an accurate measure of marijuana use and may be underreporting their use. Additionally, in one study of dispensaries, nonmedical personnel at marijuana dispensaries were recommending marijuana to pregnant women for nausea, but medical experts warn against it. This concerns medical experts because marijuana use during pregnancy is linked to lower birth weight 10 and increased risk of both brain and behavioral problems in babies. If a pregnant woman uses marijuana, the drug may affect certain developing parts of the fetus’s brain. Children exposed to marijuana in the womb have an increased risk of problems with attention, 11 memory, and problem-solving compared to unexposed children. 12 Some research also suggests that moderate amounts of THC are excreted into the breast milk of nursing mothers. 13 With regular use, THC can reach amounts in breast milk that could affect the baby’s developing brain. Other recent research suggests an increased risk of preterm births. 27 More research is needed. Read our Marijuana Research Report for more information about marijuana and pregnancy.
- Intense nausea and vomiting. Regular, long-term marijuana use can lead to some people to develop Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. This causes users to experience regular cycles of severe nausea, vomiting, and dehydration, sometimes requiring emergency medical attention. 14
Reports of Deaths Related to Vaping
The Food and Drug Administration has alerted the public to hundreds of reports of serious lung illnesses associated with vaping, including several deaths. They are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate the cause of these illnesses. Many of the suspect products tested by the states or federal health officials have been identified as vaping products containing THC, the main psychotropic ingredient in marijuana. Some of the patients reported a mixture of THC and nicotine; and some reported vaping nicotine alone. No one substance has been identified in all of the samples tested, and it is unclear if the illnesses are related to one single compound. Until more details are known, FDA officials have warned people not to use any vaping products bought on the street, and they warn against modifying any products purchased in stores. They are also asking people and health professionals to report any adverse effects. The CDC has posted an information page for consumers.
Long-term marijuana use has been linked to mental illness in some people, such as:
- temporary hallucinations
- temporary paranoia
- worsening symptoms in patients with schizophrenia—a severe mental disorder with symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia, and disorganized thinking
Marijuana use has also been linked to other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts among teens. However, study findings have been mixed.
Are there effects of inhaling secondhand marijuana smoke?
Failing a Drug Test?
While it’s possible to fail a drug test after inhaling secondhand marijuana smoke, it’s unlikely. Studies show that very little THC is released in the air when a person exhales. Research findings suggest that, unless people are in an enclosed room, breathing in lots of smoke for hours at close range, they aren’t likely to fail a drug test. 15,16 Even if some THC was found in the blood, it wouldn’t be enough to fail a test.
Getting High from Passive Exposure?
Similarly, it’s unlikely that secondhand marijuana smoke would give nonsmoking people in a confined space a high from passive exposure. Studies have shown that people who don’t use marijuana report only mild effects of the drug from a nearby smoker, under extreme conditions (breathing in lots of marijuana smoke for hours in an enclosed room). 17
Other Health Effects?
More research is needed to know if secondhand marijuana smoke has similar health risks as secondhand tobacco smoke. A recent study on rats suggests that secondhand marijuana smoke can do as much damage to the heart and blood vessels as secondhand tobacco smoke. 20 But researchers haven’t fully explored the effect of secondhand marijuana smoke on humans. What they do know is that the toxins and tar found in marijuana smoke could affect vulnerable people, such as children or people with asthma.
How Does Marijuana Affect a Person’s Life?
Compared to those who don’t use marijuana, those who frequently use large amounts report the following:
- lower life satisfaction
- poorer mental health
- poorer physical health
- more relationship problems
People also report less academic and career success. For example, marijuana use is linked to a higher likelihood of dropping out of school. 18 It’s also linked to more job absences, accidents, and injuries. 19
Is marijuana a gateway drug?
Use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are likely to come before use of other drugs. 21,22 Animal studies have shown that early exposure to addictive substances, including THC, may change how the brain responds to other drugs. For example, when rodents are repeatedly exposed to THC when they’re young, they later show an enhanced response to other addictive substances—such as morphine or nicotine—in the areas of the brain that control reward, and they’re more likely to show addiction-like behaviors. 23,24
Although these findings support the idea of marijuana as a “gateway drug,” the majority of people who use marijuana don’t go on to use other “harder” drugs. It’s also important to note that other factors besides biological mechanisms, such as a person’s social environment, are also critical in a person’s risk for drug use and addiction. Read more about marijuana as a gateway drug in our Marijuana Research Report.
Can a person overdose on marijuana?
An overdose occurs when a person uses enough of the drug to produce life-threatening symptoms or death. There are no reports of teens or adults dying from marijuana alone. However, some people who use marijuana can feel some very uncomfortable side effects, especially when using marijuana products with high THC levels. People have reported symptoms such as anxiety and paranoia, and in rare cases, an extreme psychotic reaction (which can include delusions and hallucinations) that can lead them to seek treatment in an emergency room.
While a psychotic reaction can occur following any method of use, emergency room responders have seen an increasing number of cases involving marijuana edibles. Some people (especially preteens and teens) who know very little about edibles don’t realize that it takes longer for the body to feel marijuana’s effects when eaten rather than smoked. So they consume more of the edible, trying to get high faster or thinking they haven’t taken enough. In addition, some babies and toddlers have been seriously ill after ingesting marijuana or marijuana edibles left around the house.
Is marijuana addictive?
Marijuana use can lead to the development of a substance use disorder, a medical illness in which the person is unable to stop using even though it’s causing health and social problems in their life. Severe substance use disorders are also known as addiction. Research suggests that between 9 and 30 percent of those who use marijuana may develop some degree of marijuana use disorder. 25 People who begin using marijuana before age 18 are four to seven times more likely than adults to develop a marijuana use disorder. 26
Many people who use marijuana long term and are trying to quit report mild withdrawal symptoms that make quitting difficult. These include:
- decreased appetite
What treatments are available for marijuana use disorder?
No medications are currently available to treat marijuana use disorder, but behavioral support has been shown to be effective. Examples include therapy and motivational incentives (providing rewards to patients who remain drug-free). Continuing research may lead to new medications that help ease withdrawal symptoms, block the effects of marijuana, and prevent relapse.
Points to Remember
- Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant.
- The plant contains the mind-altering chemical THC and other related compounds.
- People use marijuana by smoking, eating, drinking, or inhaling it.
- Smoking and vaping THC-rich extracts from the marijuana plant (a practice called dabbing) is on the rise.
- THC overactivates certain brain cell receptors, resulting in effects such as:
- altered senses
- changes in mood
- impaired body movement
- difficulty with thinking and problem-solving
- impaired memory and learning
- hallucinations and paranoia
- breathing problems
- possible harm to a fetus’s brain in pregnant women
For more information about marijuana and marijuana use, visit our:
- Marijuana webpage
- Drugged Driving DrugFacts
- Substance Abuse Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. SAMHSA. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2018-nsduh-detailed-tables Accessed December 2019.
- Miech, R. A., Johnston, L. D., Patrick, M. E., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg J. E. (2023). Monitoring the Future National Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975-2022. Monitoring the Future Monograph Series. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan.
- Bell C, Slim J, Flaten HK, Lindberg G, Arek W, Monte AA. Butane Hash Oil Burns Associated with Marijuana Liberalization in Colorado. J Med Toxicol Off J Am Coll Med Toxicol. 2015;11(4):422-425. doi:10.1007/s13181-015-0501-0.
- Romanowski KS, Barsun A, Kwan P, et al. Butane Hash Oil Burns: A 7-Year Perspective on a Growing Problem. J Burn Care Res Off Publ Am Burn Assoc. 2017;38(1):e165-e171. doi:10.1097/BCR.0000000000000334.
- Meier MH, Caspi A, Ambler A, et al. Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012;109(40):E2657-E2664. doi:10.1073/pnas.1206820109.
- Jackson NJ, Isen JD, Khoddam R, et al. Impact of adolescent marijuana use on intelligence: Results from two longitudinal twin studies. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016;113(5):E500-E508. doi:10.1073/pnas.1516648113.
- Mehmedic Z, Chandra S, Slade D, et al. Potency trends of Δ9-THC and other cannabinoids in confiscated cannabis preparations from 1993 to 2008. J Forensic Sci. 2010;55(5):1209-1217. doi:10.1111/j.1556-4029.2010.01441.x.
- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2017.
- Young-Wolff KC, Tucker L-Y, Alexeeff S, et al. Trends in Self-reported and Biochemically Tested Marijuana Use Among Pregnant Females in California From 2009-2016. JAMA. 2017;318(24):2490. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.17225
- The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Health and Medicine Division, Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice, Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research.http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2017/health-effects-of-cannabis-and-cannabinoids.aspx. Accessed January 19, 2017.
- Goldschmidt L, Day NL, Richardson GA. Effects of prenatal marijuana exposure on child behavior problems at age 10. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2000;22(3):325-336.
- Richardson GA, Ryan C, Willford J, Day NL, Goldschmidt L. Prenatal alcohol and marijuana exposure: effects on neuropsychological outcomes at 10 years. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2002;24(3):309-320.
- Perez-Reyes M, Wall ME. Presence of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol in human milk. N Engl J Med. 1982;307(13):819-820. doi:10.1056/NEJM198209233071311.
- Galli JA, Sawaya RA, Friedenberg FK. Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. Curr Drug Abuse Rev. 2011;4(4):241-249.
- Röhrich J, Schimmel I, Zörntlein S, et al. Concentrations of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and 11-nor-9-carboxytetrahydrocannabinol in blood and urine after passive exposure to Cannabis smoke in a coffee shop. J Anal Toxicol. 2010;34(4):196-203.
- Cone EJ, Bigelow GE, Herrmann ES, et al. Non-smoker exposure to secondhand cannabis smoke. I. Urine screening and confirmation results. J Anal Toxicol. 2015;39(1):1-12. doi:10.1093/jat/bku116.
- Herrmann ES, Cone EJ, Mitchell JM, et al. Non-smoker exposure to secondhand cannabis smoke II: Effect of room ventilation on the physiological, subjective, and behavioral/cognitive effects. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015;151:194-202. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.03.019.
- McCaffrey DF, Pacula RL, Han B, Ellickson P. Marijuana Use and High School Dropout: The Influence of Unobservables. Health Econ. 2010;19(11):1281-1299. doi:10.1002/hec.1561.
- Zwerling C, Ryan J, Orav EJ. The efficacy of preemployment drug screening for marijuana and cocaine in predicting employment outcome. JAMA. 1990;264(20):2639-2643.
- Wang X, Derakhshandeh R, Liu J, et al. One Minute of Marijuana Secondhand Smoke Exposure Substantially Impairs Vascular Endothelial Function. J Am Heart Assoc. 2016;5(8). doi:10.1161/JAHA.116.003858.
- Secades-Villa R, Garcia-Rodríguez O, Jin CJ, Wang S, Blanco C. Probability and predictors of the cannabis gateway effect: a national study. Int J Drug Policy. 2015;26(2):135-142. doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.07.011.
- Levine A, Huang Y, Drisaldi B, et al. Molecular mechanism for a gateway drug: epigenetic changes initiated by nicotine prime gene expression by cocaine. Sci Transl Med. 2011;3(107):107ra109. doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3003062.
- Panlilio LV, Zanettini C, Barnes C, Solinas M, Goldberg SR. Prior exposure to THC increases the addictive effects of nicotine in rats. Neuropsychopharmacol Off Publ Am Coll Neuropsychopharmacol. 2013;38(7):1198-1208. doi:10.1038/npp.2013.16.
- Cadoni C, Pisanu A, Solinas M, Acquas E, Di Chiara G. Behavioural sensitization after repeated exposure to Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cross-sensitization with morphine. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001;158(3):259-266. doi:10.1007/s002130100875.
- Hasin DS, Saha TD, Kerridge BT, et al. Prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorders in the United States Between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015;72(12):1235-1242. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.1858.
- Winters KC, Lee C-YS. Likelihood of developing an alcohol and cannabis use disorder during youth: association with recent use and age. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2008;92(1-3):239-247. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2007.08.005.
- Corsi DJ, Walsh L, Weiss D, et al. Association Between Self-reported Prenatal Cannabis Use and Maternal, Perinatal, and Neonatal Outcomes. JAMA. Published online June 18, 2019322(2):145–152. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.8734
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You Might Not Overdose on Cannabis, But You Can Still Overdo It
Can you overdose on cannabis? This question is controversial, even among people who frequently use cannabis. Some people believe cannabis is as dangerous as opioids or stimulants, while others believe it’s completely harmless and has no side effects.
You can’t overdose on cannabis in the way that you can overdose on, say, opioids. To date, there have not been any reported deaths resulting solely from cannabis use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But that doesn’t mean you can’t overdo it or have a bad reaction to cannabis.
There isn’t a straightforward answer here because everybody’s different. Some people seem to tolerate cannabis well, while others don’t tolerate it well at all. Cannabis products also vary greatly in their potency.
Edibles, however, seem to be more likely to cause a negative reaction. This is partly because they take a long time to kick in.
After eating an edible, it can be anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours before you start to feel the effects. In the meantime, many people end up eating more because they mistakenly believe the edibles are weak.
Mixing cannabis with alcohol can also cause a negative reaction for some people.
Cannabis products containing high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that makes you feel “high” or impaired, can also cause a bad reaction in some people, especially those who don’t use cannabis often.
Cannabis can have quite a few less-than-desirable side effects, including:
- thirstiness or a dry mouth (aka “cotton mouth”)
- concentration problems
- slower reaction times
- dry eyes
- fatigue or lethargy
- increased heart rate
- anxiety and other changes in mood
In rarer cases, it can also cause:
- paranoia and panic attacks
- nausea and vomiting
These side effects can last anywhere from 20 minutes to a full day. In general, cannabis that’s higher in THC is associated with more severe, long-lasting effects. And yes, it’s possible to wake up with a “weed hangover” the following day.
If you or a friend has overindulged, there are a few things you can do to reduce the unpleasant side effects.
If you’re feeling anxious, it’s good to self-soothe by telling yourself that you’ll be OK. Remind yourself that nobody has ever died from a cannabis overdose.
It might not feel like it right now, but these symptoms will pass.
If you’re feeling nauseated or shaky, try to have a snack. This might be the last thing you want to do, especially if you also have dry mouth, but it makes a big difference for some people.
Speaking of dry mouth, make sure you drink plenty of liquids. This is especially important if you’re vomiting, which can dehydrate you.
If you’re panicking, try slowly sipping water to help ground yourself.
Sleep it off
Sometimes, the best thing to do is wait for the effects to subside. Sleeping or resting is a good way to pass time while you wait for the cannabis to work its way out of your system.
If too much is happening around you, it can make you anxious and even paranoid.
Switch off the music or TV, leave the crowd, and try to relax in a calm environment, like an empty bedroom or bathroom.
Chew or sniff black peppercorns
Anecdotally, many people swear that black peppercorns can soothe the side effects of overindulging in cannabis, especially anxiety and paranoia.
According to research , black peppercorns contain caryophyllene, which might weaken the uncomfortable effects of THC. But this remedy hasn’t been rigorously studied, and there is no evidence in humans to support it.
Call a friend
It may be helpful to call a friend who has experience with cannabis. They may be able to talk you through the unpleasant experience and calm you down.
Can You Overdose on Weed?
Weed is otherwise known as marijuana, cannabis, and pot, among other names. While many people smoke or vape weed, you can also use it as an ingredient in food, drinks, topicals, or tinctures.
The flower of the cannabis plant is extracted for its recreational or medicinal purposes. The stalk or stem of the plant is used for industrial reasons (like hemp fiber). The seed of the cannabis plant is used for food or household purposes (such as hemp seed or hemp oil).
Different ways of ingesting cannabis may affect your body differently. When you inhale weed smoke into your lungs, the compounds enter your bloodstream and quickly reach your brain and other organs. The effects may onset within seconds to minutes.
When you consume products containing cannabis, the compounds must first pass through your digestive system and liver before entering your bloodstream. The effects may onset within minutes to hours.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is responsible for the effects of cannabis. It may also provide medicinal effects for conditions like:
- Reduced appetite
CBD (cannabidiol) is non-intoxicating. It offers potential medicinal effects for conditions like epilepsy and anxiety. However, there is still a lot we do not know about THC and CBD.
There is ongoing debate surrounding the effects of cannabis on the body. People report a mixture of physical and psychological effects, ranging from discomfort and anxiety to pain relief and relaxation.
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Common Side Effects of Marijuana
Marijuana overactivates areas of the brain that contain the highest number of these receptors. This leads to the ‘high’ that people experience.
Other side effects of marijuana include: 2
- Altered senses (e.g., seeing brighter colors)
- Altered sense of time
- Shifts in mood
- Impaired body movement
- Problems with thinking and problem-solving
- Impaired memory
- Hallucinations, when taken in high doses
- Delusions, when taken in high doses
In the long-term, too much marijuana affects brain development. When people start using marijuana as teenagers, the drug may affect thinking, memory, and learning functions. It may also affect how the brain develops connections between the areas required for these functions.
It is still unknown how long marijuana’s effects last and whether some changes may be permanent.
Can You Overdose on Weed?
A fatal marijuana overdose is unlikely, but that does not mean the drug is harmless. 3 The signs and side effects of using too much marijuana are similar to the usual effects of ingesting marijuana (but are more severe).
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How Much Weed is “Too Much?”
How much weed is ‘too much’ depends on the individual. If you experience heavy signs and symptoms of marijuana use, you have likely consumed too much cannabis.
Symptoms of Marijuana Overconsumption
The signs and symptoms of marijuana intoxication may include: 3
- Extreme confusion
- Fast heart rate
- Delusions or hallucinations
- Heightened blood pressure
- Severe nausea or vomiting
In some cases, a cannabis overdose may lead to an unintentional injury like a motor vehicle crash, fall, or poisoning.
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Remedies for Marijuana Overconsumption
When you or a loved one overdoses on marijuana, a visit to the emergency room may be necessary. If your loved one is experiencing a psychotic break due to a cannabis overdose, keeping them safe is essential.
For milder cases, try hydrating with lemon water. This helps neutralize terpenes and deals with the hydrating effects of THC. In many cases, treating marijuana intoxication is a waiting game.
Paranoia or psychosis may occur in extreme cases, so it is essential to soothe, reassure, and place the affected individual in a safe and comfortable environment.
Other Effects & Risks Associated with Marijuana Use
Here are other effects and risks linked with marijuana use:
Researchers from the University of Toronto gathered 124 studies from 1995 to 2020 that assessed how recreational marijuana use had adverse consequences on behavior. 5 They identified four main areas where cannabis had negative implications on mental health.
The researchers discovered that marijuana addiction impacts specific areas of cognition, including memory, decision-making, and attention. They found that high marijuana drug use led to more significant lapses in memory, particularly among those who started using marijuana as adolescents.
They also discovered that cognitive impairments happening while users were high were more significant among participants who had not developed a tolerance to marijuana.
Long-term marijuana use has been associated with mental illness in some cannabis users, including: 2
- Worsening symptoms in patients with schizophrenia—a severe mental health disorder with symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia, and disorganized thinking
Substance use disorders like marijuana addiction have also been linked to other mental health issues. These issues include depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
However, it is essential to understand that study findings are mixed.
An extensive set of data demonstrates that when young people use cannabis consistently during their development, they are less likely to complete high school and are less likely to finish a college degree.
Adolescents who use marijuana regularly are less likely to go to class, finish their homework, or achieve and value good grades. Evidence also suggests that those who use marijuana early in life, and continue to use it frequently, have less economic success than the general population.
One study in New Zealand followed a group of children through middle adulthood while tailing their marijuana use. 4
Participants were more likely to use weed chronically as adults if:
- Their parents used it
- They had a conduct disorder
- They were classified as novelty-seeking
- They experienced trauma as a child
Additionally, those who used marijuana commonly as adults were more likely to have mental disorders and abuse other drugs.
Consistent cannabis use can lead to many serious health problems in the long term.
Smoking weed irritates the lungs, and people who smoke it often can develop the same breathing problems as those who smoke tobacco. These issues may include daily cough and phlegm, more frequent lung illness, and a higher risk of lung infections.
However, researchers have not yet found a higher risk for lung cancer in people who smoke cannabis.
Marijuana use also increases heart rate for up to three hours after smoking. The effect may heighten the chance of heart attack. Older people and those with heart issues may be at higher risk.
Cannabis use may also cause problems with child development during and after pregnancy.
In one study of dispensaries, nonmedical staff members at marijuana dispensaries recommended cannabis to pregnant women for nausea. However, medical experts warn against this.
This is because cannabis use during pregnancy is associated with lower birth weight and an increased risk of brain and behavioral issues in babies. If a pregnant woman uses cannabis, the drug may affect specific developing parts of the baby’s brain.
Babies exposed to marijuana in the womb have an increased risk of issues with attention, memory, and problem-solving compared to unexposed babies.
Some research also shows that moderate amounts of THC can reach the breast milk of nursing mothers. With consistent use, THC can hit amounts in breast milk that could affect the child’s developing brain.
Other research suggests an increased risk of preterm births. However, more studies are necessary.
Finally, regular, long-term cannabis use can lead some people to develop Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). This condition causes some people to experience regular cycles of severe nausea, dehydration, and vomiting. It can require a visit to the emergency room.
Signs of Marijuana Use
Marijuana is an addictive drug. Signs that an individual is using cannabis may or may not be clear to loved ones.
Signs of marijuana use are linked to the psychological, physical, and behavioral shifts in the person who is using marijuana.
Here are some commonly observed signs:
- Red eyes
- Eating or excessive eating outside of typical meal or snack times
- Poorer performance in school, work, and/or in meeting responsibilities at home
- Withdrawing from friends, family, coworkers, and/or classmates
- Spending time with people who use marijuana or substances
- Buying cannabis products, such as bongs and rolling papers, to smoke marijuana
- Conducting online research on various types of marijuana and highs, such as waxes, tinctures, and edibles
- Using slang terms for marijuana like weed, pot, bud, and cannabis
Treatment Options for Marijuana Use
Treating marijuana abuse with standard treatments, including medications and behavioral therapies, may help reduce cannabis use. 7 This is especially among those involved with excessive use and those with chronic mental health disorders.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches people strategies to understand and correct problematic behaviors to improve self-control, stop drug use, and address various other problems that may co-occur with them.
Contingency management is another type of treatment to help with marijuana use. The therapeutic management approach is based on consistent monitoring of the target behavior and providing or removing positive rewards when the target behavior happens or does not happen.
Another option is motivational enhancement therapy. This treatment is a systematic form of intervention designed to create rapid, internally motivated change. This therapy does not try to treat the person but instead mobilizes their internal resources for change.
- What Is Rehab Like?
- Why Call an Addiction Hotline?
- How to Sober Up
- Tapering off of alcohol
- What is Considered an Alcoholic?