Although it is nearly impossible to overdose from cannabis, ingesting too much can lead to unpleasant and adverse side effects, a phenomenon colloquially known as green out.
To put it simply, green out occurs when one consumes more marijuana than their body and mind can tolerate, resulting in various unfavourable symptoms, such as nausea, anxiety, and paranoia.
In most instances, green out is a condition that only leads to temporary discomfort and symptoms. It is completely different from the life-threatening cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS).
Ultimately, the vast majority of green out cases do not require medical attention or additional caution. Still, cannabis users need to understand the signs to know what to look out for and how to treat it should it happen to them or someone they know.
In the following article, we will outline the impacts of green out, including how it feels to experience it and how to treat the condition.
What is Green Out?
As previously mentioned, green out occurs when the body ingests more cannabis than it is able to handle.
Consuming too much marijuana can result in a variety of negative consequences.
The experience – commonly referred to as “greening out” – ranges from mildly to highly unpleasant and generally lasts a few hours, but the effects can prolong for more extended periods.
The primary culprit that facilitates these symptoms is THC content. In this way, ingesting CBD with little to no amounts of THC will likely not cause one to green out.
The symptoms of green out vary slightly depending on the individual, but commonalities emerge, with typical symptoms involving physical illness and mental discomfort.
On this note, frequent symptoms include:
- Increased heart rate
- Elevated blood pressure
- Sweats or Chills
- Upset stomach
- Fatigue or physical sedation
- Alterations to memory, perception of time, and attention
- Dry-mouth (cotton-mouth)
- Red eyes
You may have experienced one or more of these symptoms before, as they can each occur due to consuming more cannabis than our tolerance allows.
However, unlike pushing personal tolerance boundaries that may wear off more quickly, green out symptoms typically last anywhere between 30 minutes to up to 6 hours or more.
Depending on your general state of health and how your body responds to cannabis, the specific symptoms can vary, as will their intensity.
Integrating other substances, such as drinking alcohol, will also increase an individual’s likelihood of greening out.
How Does Green Out Feel?
We have already briefly touched on various green out symptoms, but it depends heavily on the specific cannabis user concerning how it genuinely feels or what the particular experience involves.
Typically, the feelings of anxiety, paranoia, and mental discomfort are focused internally. However, they may also resonate and cause physical discomfort. Due to the high amounts of THC in their systems, users greening out will feel these various symptoms intensely.
These factors may cause the user to experience a rush of adrenaline or a full-blown panic attack, which triggers the body’s primal fight or flight response. Signs that you or someone you know may be experiencing a panic attack include increased heart rate, sweating, nausea, trembling or shaking and shortness of breath.
However, the important note to remember is that these symptoms will pass and there will be no negative long-term consequences from greening out. Unfortunately, when a green out does happen, it is almost always unpleasant, but the specific details vary from person to person depending on health, build, gender and other factors.
The symptoms often gather steam rather quickly and then slowly fade. This pattern is most common when the cannabis is smoked, vaped, or dabbed. When it comes to infused edibles and beverages, the situation changes a bit.
Due to their delayed-release characteristics, green out symptoms may build over time as your body absorbs the THC. Even in these situations, the effects may only get worse for an hour or two before reaching a peak and then subsiding.
If you’ve taken a large dose of edibles and are concerned about worsening symptoms, seek medical attention. The good news is that the symptoms will fade and pass with time no matter the ingestion method.
How do you Treat a Green Out?
Unfortunately, you cannot stop green out once it has started, and you ultimately have to ride it out. Still, while there is no magic fix or off-button for greening out, there are ways to treat the symptoms.
Create a Safe Space
An excellent place to start if you or someone you know is experiencing green out is to create a calm, soothing environment free of distractions and factors that may provoke anxiety or feelings of panic.
Find a secluded room or area with a comfortable place, such as a bed or a couch with pillows, to relax in. Play some calming music and dim the lighting to facilitate the sentiment of calmness, relaxation and serenity.
The environment can play a critical role in a greening out experience. If you or the individual is in a space full of noise or too many visuals and becomes overwhelmed and overstimulated, they are less likely to calm down.
Boost Your Blood Sugar
Like drinking alcohol and becoming drunk, ingesting cannabis on an empty stomach will heighten and intensify the effects.
Having low blood sugar will significantly increase your likelihood of greening out. In this way, it is best to eat something before partaking in any variation of cannabis consumption.
If you are experiencing green out, remember to hydrate and drink water. If you have a sugary juice available, drink that to help hydrate and replenish your blood sugar levels.
Eating something will also help treat and alleviate another symptom common with green out, nausea, by putting something in your stomach.
Take Deep Breaths
It may seem like a simple task, but focusing on your breathing and attempting to take big, deep breaths is one of the most effective ways to combat feeling panicked or paranoid.
This practice allows you to focus your attention on something else, serving as a distraction to the unpleasant symptoms you are experiencing. It may also help to visualize your breath expanding and shrinking with every inhale and exhale.
Taking deep breaths also helps alleviate physical symptoms by relaxing the body and reducing heart rate, promoting feeling calm and more in control.
While it may come across as counterproductive to ingest more cannabis-related products, CBD has very little to no concentrate of THC. In this way, it provides medicinal benefits without facilitating further the psychoactive effects of THC.
Many patients ingest CBD for its multitude of beneficial elements, such as helping ease anxiety and depression, inflammation, and pain relief.
In this way, ingesting CBD will provide calming effects without having to worry about intensifying the green out.
As stated previously, unfortunately, there is no way to stop green out once it has started. However, one of the best ways to ride it out is to pursue the path of least resistance, sleep.
Sleeping will allow you to disassociate from the unpleasant experience of green out by not being conscious while it happens.
While it may seem like a difficult task in the moment, find that safe space that you created, get comfortable, and focus on your breathing, and you will hopefully drift off into a peaceful slumber. You might even find your sleep onset to arrive much quicker than usual due to all the THC coursing through your system.
Of course, the best way to deal with a green out is to avoid it in the first place. For regular cannabis consumers, if you learn your limits and stay within them, you should not experience any problems.
For novice consumers, the best tip is to start low and go slow. You can always build your tolerance and smoke more gradually. However, if you smoke too much from the beginning, you can’t take it back.
For that reason, the best thing to do is smoke a small amount and wait up to an hour before consuming more. This notion is even more crucial for edibles. Start with a very low dose and do not take a second dose while waiting for effects to occur. This double-dose is the most common cause of the dreaded green-out.
Green Out – This Too Shall Pass
In instances such as consuming cannabis, there is such a thing as having too much of a good thing.
If you find yourself beginning to take the unfavourable journey towards green out, remember to keep calm. Drink some water, find a safe spot, and wait it out while you take care of yourself and your needs.
Avoid greening out altogether by consuming small amounts of weed at a time and only smoking or ingesting more once you are confident in how your body is handling the prior dose.
Ultimately, the most critical concept to keep in mind if you or someone you know is experiencing green out is that this too shall pass. The symptoms and overall experience will not last forever.
Still, understanding the symptoms and how to treat green out should be in the arsenal of every responsible cannabis consumer to ensure a pleasurable and comfortable experience.
As always, stay safe.