First of all, don’t panic. Marijuana can’t kill a human easily. No amount of ingested marijuna has ever killed any person, but the experience of too much cannabis, or what I call straight-up: a marijuana overdose, is physically harmless if you’re in generally good health. If you have fragile health or cardiovascular issues seek medical help as an elevated heart rate can stress on the cardiovascular system. Although the research is inconclusive, and the event extremely rare, there may have been incidences of heart attack after large doses of marijuana has caused an elevated heart rate. Again, seek medical help if you’re worried but it is important to keep in mind that over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) kill roughly 15,000 people in the U.S. every year. And cannabis still has yet to have a single known fatality.
Unlike opiates- which target one part of the brain- the part that controls and therefore can shut down breathing- receptors for cannabis are spread out all over the body. That’s why a cannabis overdose can feel uncomfortable, with common symptoms such as wooziness, lack of balance, anxiety, pounding heart and debilitating fatigue. Most of the discomfort is in your mind as you worry about the very uncomfortable and foreign feeling you’re experiencing. Cannabinoids are something we already produce in our bodies in small amounts, so our body doesn’t find them toxic- it just doesn’t like to have too much of them. Their function in the body is to seek balance and proper modulation so a small amount is the proper amount.
Now that you’ve stopped panicking that your friend ate too many cannabis cookies and is going to die- here’s what to do: Remove anxiety and discomfort from the equation. Allow the person to be in a quiet, comfortable place that is safe and familiar. Assure them that they will survive the ordeal, despite the foreign feeling. (Many people who get dosed accidentally worry they are having a stroke or heart attack.) Most regular users who ingest too much Cannabis- yes it can happen to anyone- find that distracting themselves from the discomfort with a favorite movie does the trick. It will wear off eventually.
It is important to note that pets ingest cannabis as well, and although fatality is rare due to the large quantity needed to cause a fatal overdose, there are now cases of pet fatalities associated with marijuana. A one pound pet only has to eat 3 grams of pure THC to be in danger. In smokable flower this may be close to an ounce, but concentrated THC in new cannabis products can deliver this dose. As with any health concern, for people or pets, seek professional medical help from a doctor or veterinarian.