Will Too Much THC Hurt You?

Cannabis is becoming increasingly popular in wellness communities, among the youth and middle-aged alike. You can use Cannabis in several ways: ingesting its buds, smoking it, applying it as a topical ointment, using it as a tincture or oral substance. Either as CBD or THC, it is everywhere.

With the influx of products and increased use, you must be concerned about the safety of using Cannabis, especially those rich in THC. You’re probably wondering if there are any harmful effects of consuming THC and the possible outcomes of taking in too much.
In this post, we’re going to educate you on all things THC and answer your question about its possible harmfulness.

What Is THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the 100+ cannabinoids present in Cannabis. THC is present in the buds, flowers, and leaves of mainly the female plant. It was discovered in 1969, and it is the primary psychoactive substance in the plant. It is also responsible for the plant’s resistance to insect predators, environmental stressors, and harsh sunlight.
It has been classified and reclassified several times but is currently a schedule IV by UN standards. It is a schedule I and IV substance for “no accepted medical use” and “lack of safety” in the US. It is still very illegal in most parts of the US and the world without a medical prescription.

Weed Tea Platter

The FDA, however, approved a form of THC, Dronabinol (a generic name). Big pharma sells it as an appetite booster for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). This drug formulation of THC is an oily and thick resin sold in capsules. Marinol, Syndros, REDUVO, and Adversa are some brand names used in marketing it.
The FDA also approved it as an antiemetic for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Antiemetics are drugs that relieve nausea and prevent vomiting. The FDA only approves Dronabinol for use with these two conditions and nothing more.
Cannabis has a higher concentration of THC than Hemp at 12%. Strains high in THC include Gorilla Glue 4 (lol no, not the viral glue), The Toad, Godfather OG, Strawberry Banana, Amnesia Haze, Silver Haze, Bruce Banner, etc.

Benefits of THC

– Studies have shown that THC (especially when combined with CBD) can positively affect sleep quality and appetite. It does this by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This discovery has led to the approval of specific products such as Sativex by the FDA.
– THC improves focus and creativity
– THC helps with discomfort and muscle soreness
– THC improves skin quality
– Although more human studies are required, THC has shown the ease of stress, fatigue, and tiredness.

Side Effects of THC

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) fuses with cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in the brain, producing euphoria, .ie. a high. The higher the dose, the more side effects. Some unwanted temporary side effects of THC include:
– Cotton mouth-a dry feeling in the mouth resulting in thirstiness
– Lethargy
– Confusion
– Difficulty concentrating
– Delayed reaction
– Dry, red eyes
– Headaches
– Vertigo
– Lack of coordination

Some adverse reactions to consuming too much THC are:

Arrhythmia: THC can cause very rapid heartbeats, especially in new users. Lightheadedness and shortness of breath usually accompany arrhythmia. With more use, this could reduce to some extent.
It is worthy to note that this could trigger a heart attack; such persons might want to avoid Cannabis with high THC or stick to small doses. To calm yourself, take deep breaths and sleep. Usually, this effect goes away in, say, 2-4 hours.
Anxiety and Panic Attacks: THC can trigger anxiety or a panic attack. It leads to physical reactions when there is no apparent danger. When this happens, you are bound to believe you are having a heart attack or dying.
Cannabis-induced Psychosis: Though this is rare, it is possible with taking too much THC via edibles. This disconnection from reality could cause hallucinations, delusions, incoherent speech, etc.
To calm down, turn off bright lights or loud music, get some fresh air or a cold shower.
Nausea and Vomiting: Regular THC intake (familiar with edibles and oral tinctures) could cause cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). You throw up continuously, and it doesn’t respond to your typical antiemetic drugs.
To prevent this, eat a small portion of the edible and wait 30 minutes to 2 hours before taking more. Or you could enjoy the pleasant feeling and save the rest of the edible for another day.
Cancer and Respiratory Problems: If your preferred method of ingesting Cannabis is smoking, you are at risk of long-term health complications. Cannabis smoke, just like that of cigarettes, is harmful because it contains toxic substances like Hydrogen cyanide, polycyclic hydrocarbons, etc.
These substances may increase your risk of cancer or other respiratory problems. You can prevent these complications by using alternative consumption methods to smoking.
Possible Addiction: According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 30% of frequent users are prone to THC dependency. Withdrawal might occur on discontinuing substance use.
Some withdrawal symptoms include jitteriness, loss of appetite, profuse sweating, insomnia, depression, etc. However, there isn’t enough data to know for sure.
‘Weed hangover’: Although there is debate on the realness of this, weed hangover exists. Not everyone will experience it, though. It is an impairment of your abilities the day after ingesting THC, whether by smoking or eating it.
It is not like alcohol-induced hangovers, though. You can fix this by staying hydrated, resting, and eating.
Seizure: Some experts opine that too much THC can cause mental health issues, especially in young, frequent users. Due to a lack of enough data and studies, there is still little known about the long-term effects. However, experts are concerned about the overconsumption of THC.

What to Do When You Overindulge?

If you or your friend take too much, do not panic. There are a few things (besides those listed above) to do to relieve the unpleasant effects.
Relax: We know it might not seem like it but believe us, you won’t die. Take deep, calming breaths. Do the things that usually soothe you and unwind.
Eat: We can’t overemphasize this! Put some food in your belly. We know you mightn’t want to do this if you feel nauseous but do. It’d help ground you.
Drink water: Your dry eyes and dry mouth are signs of dehydration. Puking will dehydrate you some more. So stay on top by drinking more water to counter this.
Call a friend: You may be so out of it and unable to care for yourself, so call someone. They can come over to care for you till the effects wear off.
Avoid overwhelming situations: Too many loud sounds or graphic images might trigger your anxiety. You might want to consider turning the TV/sound system off. If you’re in a crowd, try going somewhere quieter.
Eat black peppercorns: Black peppercorns are said to work magic. There is little scientific proof to back this up, yet cannabis users swear by it. Experts believe the terpene beta-caryophyllene found in the peppercorns is responsible. It is said to be able to step down the effects of THC.

Dosage

Now we’re sure you are thinking, “just how much is too much?” Well, that is a significant source of dispute, even among users. The CDC still hasn’t recorded any death by Cannabis.
Nevertheless, considering different tolerance levels, metabolism rates, body mass, product type, and potency, people respond differently to THC. Some do not react; some react a bit, while others respond adversely.
Also, a lack of regulation for edibles and mixing THC with alcohol makes dosing unclear. There is no universal dose, just start small and know what works for your body.
So, will too much THC hurt you? Also, how do you know you are or are not consuming too much?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is psychoactive while Cannabidiol (CBD) is not. It is noteworthy that inhaling the smoke of Cannabis rich in THC will not be as potent as eating edibles or ingesting concentrates. Hence, you are very unlikely to overdose or harm yourself with this method of consumption.
When using cannabis strains high in THC like those mentioned above, it would be wise to apply caution as side effects would be more substantial with these. If you are a new user of Cannabis, you should start with strains with a THC-CBD ratio of 1:1. It would be best if you also considered starting with smaller doses of Cannabis, building your tolerance till you are sure of your limit.

Conclusion

THC consumption has founded and unfounded therapeutic benefits. Though it is very rare to overdose on the substance, it is still possible. Just like with every other thing, yes, too much will hurt or leave you with very undesirable effects. Some more lasting than others (see list of minor and severe side effects listed above).
However, unlike most controlled substances, overconsumption is not fatal. To date, there isn’t a single THC-induced fatality recorded by the CDC. Notwithstanding this, applying moderation is highly advised.

Meta description: If you’re trying to figure out the pleasant and unpleasant effects of THC, this article breaks down everything about it and if taking too much can hurt you.

Sources:
Cannabis and Cannabinoids. National Cancer Institute. Accessed March 18, 2021.
https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/cannabis-pdq#section/all

Marinol (Dronabinol) (PDF). US Food and Drug Administration. Accessed March 18, 2021.
https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2005/018651s021lbl.pdf

Pharmacotherapeutic considerations for the use of cannabinoids to relieve pain in patients with malignant diseases. Accessed March 11, 2021.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5922297/

Marijuana Research Report. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive

5 Things You Should Do When Stoned and Need to Come Down Fast. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://weedmaps.com/news/2018/06/5-things-you-should-do-when-stoned-and-need-to-come-down-fast/

Is it possible to “overdose” or have a “bad reaction” to marijuana? Accessed March 18, 2021.
https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/faqs/overdose-bad-reaction.html