Have you ever wondered as to what happens if you smoke too much weed? But been too shy to ask? Or haven’t been able to find adequate information?
Today we’re blessed to live in a day and age that, for the most part, welcomes cannabis. Gone are the days of overzealous politicians demonizing its use. Now that the welcome mat has been rolled out, we can have open discussions about the benefits and side effects.
While this discussion often stems from its marvellous benefits, there are some negative effects to smoking too much weed.
Just as learning about the positives, we have to discuss the negatives. It would be improper to leave stones unturned and only go over the benefits of marijuana.
But first, let’s take a look at how cannabis interacts with our bodies and the effects of tolerance.
How Cannabis Tolerance Works
As you continue to smoke weed, you may notice some changes. Most people will stop to feel the effects as much. This is what’s known as tolerance. Your body has grown accustomed to the drug or high, requires more to achieve the desired effect.
In the case of cannabis, THC works by triggering the CB1 receptors. With an increase in CB1 activity, we feel the effects of being “stoned” or “high”.
After repeated exposure to THC, the CB1 receptors begin to minimize the effects of THC. This is known as desensitization, the brain’s mechanism to counteract the overuse of the CB1 receptors.
Yet, in turn, most people will just increase the amount smoked or consumed to get back to the original plateau. As an even further preventative measure, we see a process called internalization. At this point, the brain will begin to retract the CB1 receptors and break them down into smaller parts.
Luckily, this process is reversible but requires a break from THC all together.
On the other hand, if you decide not to take a break and continue to up the dosage, there are potential side effects from consuming too much weed. Let’s break down the events that our body may encounter after this happens.
Signs That You Smoked Too Much Cannabis
1) Anxiety and paranoia
Anxiety and paranoia are often the first tell-tale sign that you’ve smoked too much weed. In most cases, low doses of cannabis alleviate these symptoms. But when consumed in high doses, they become more prevalent.
As cannabis tolerance grows, so does the amount consumed. Often people are better suited to handle the high amounts of THC after smoking for long stretches, but it’s not always the case. Even the most seasoned vets can take too much and find themselves gripped with anxiety and paranoia.
To not fall into the paranoia trap, start slow and work your way up. You don’t need to smoke a blunt to the face to get high. Take a few puffs and see how it feels. This is even more important with edibles. Start with 5-10mg and wait a few hours. The effects take longer to realize when cannabis is ingested.
2) Short term and working memory loss
The “Dude where’s my car” syndrome is real. A glaring side effect of smoking too much weed issues with memory. Cannabis alters the hippocampus, the part of our brain that’s used for memory retention.
When the hippocampus breaks down, we see a reduction in short term memory and working memory. Working memory is the function of keeping new information up to a couple of hours to be used again.
This may be the reason why people that are high have trouble recalling what they just heard.
In the United States, 3 out of every 100 people suffer from a form of psychosis. The term itself is broad, as the understanding of psychosis is still in its infancy.
Symptoms may include:
- hallucinations (seeing, smelling, hearing and tasting things that are not real)
- and disordered thoughts.
Long term cannabis use may lead to a mild form of psychosis that eventually goes away after several weeks of abstinence.
It’s generally regarded that the symptoms are more pronounced in those that have an underlying and undetected diagnosis. If you begin to experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to seek medical attention for a possible psychosis diagnosis.
4) You get the munchies
The munchies may be the most notable side effect of smoking too much weed. And in most cases, they haven’t even smoked a lot. The munchies seem to affect 100 percent of cannabis users at some point or another.
An overactive appetite may, in fact, be a medicinal benefit to some. Chemotherapy patients often struggle to find an appetite and cannabis is a good way to kickstart their hunger. But, for those that aren’t looking to eat anything and everything in their path, the munchies are unwarranted.
When THC is consumed, it interacts with our endocannabinoid system or ECS. In conjunction with the ECS, it activates our POMC, the part of the brain that lets us know if we’re full.
By activating the POMC, cannabis creates an overbearing sense of hunger, even when we’ve already eaten more food than we can handle.
Cannabis withdrawals, while normally minor, are legitimate. Long-time users of marijuana that completely stop will often feel irritable, muscle pain and tremors. Tremors don’t have an exact correlation with withdrawal, but anecdotal evidence shows that they may be associated. These tremors disappear within a week or 2 of quitting.
On the other hand, cannabis is beginning to gain popularity reducing tremors in Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis.
Dr. Allan Frankel observed the change in one of his most severely debilitated overnight. After just three doses of THC-V, a 70-year-old patient of his went from immobilizing tremors to almost normal speech within 24-hours.
5) Experiencing cottonmouth
Dealing with cotton mouth, or a dry mouth, after smoking a joint is annoying. The effect is often believed to be from the smoke itself. But, research has shown that this is not the case.
When THC is absorbed into our system, it interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors aren’t local to your brain but are in fact spread throughout your body. If you didn’t guess it by now, the tongue is host to these little receptors.
THC decreases the blood flow to these glands, which dries out the mouth and makes it nearly impossible to produce saliva.
Drinking fluids will only help the issue for a moment. The best course of action is to use a cough drop if the problem is becoming an issue.
6) An increase in heart rate
Prolonged cannabis use, or consuming high levels in a short span of time may increase heart your heart rate. Those with pre-existing heart conditions are at an even higher risk and should seek to find the proper dosage without going overboard.
While smoking too much weed can lead to an increased chance for a heart attack, it should be noted that any smoke will do the same. Smoking increases the heart rate and blood pressure by reducing the amount of oxygen entering our pulmonary system.
The effects of THC become especially dangerous when those with a pre-existing heart condition exercise and consume cannabis at the same time. THC dilates blood vessels, while an increase in heart rate from exercise or smoke can cause a heart attack.
For the longest time, the effects of Sativa and Indica were black and white. Sativas created an uplifting effect while Indicas knocked you out. To avoid being glued to your seat, all you needed to do was stay away from the Indicas.
You can throw that pseudoscience out the window.
Cannabis strains high in certain terpenes produce more sedating effects. Myrcene for one, in high amounts, will work like an elephant tranquilizer. Such as other sedating stains, if you roll the dice and smoke too much, you could find yourself weighing twice what you did before.
If you do feel yourself become heavy and unable to move, relax and take some deep breaths. The feeling will pass shortly. If it’s uncomfortable, take a nap. There’s a 99 percent chance you will fall asleep within a couple of minutes.
8) Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome
Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is a new discovery that still needs further research to be fully understood. CHS effects long-term users of cannabis. The associated are nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
What’s odd is these effects are often the opposite of marijuana’s normal benefits. While the effects seem to be only in long term cannabis users, it’s very rare and not much of a worry for most people.
At the moment, the only cure is to cut cannabis use completely. Another side note, hot showers and baths seem to help, but this is only temporary and further evidence still needs to be collected.
If you are experiencing Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, stop cannabis use immediately and seek medical attention.
9) Weed hangover
Last but not least, a tell-tale sign that you’ve been smoking too much weed is when you wake up with a weed hangover. A weed hangover is characterized by fatigue, haziness, some nausea and cottonmouth. More often than not, a weed hangover is from a night or day of eating high doses of THC edibles.
Just like a liquor induced hangover, a weed hangover doesn’t have a cure. But unlike the almost unbearable feeling of an alcohol hangover, cannabis hangovers pass rather quickly.
While there isn’t a “cure”, there are some steps you can take to make it pass over more comfortably. Keeping hydrated will ease nausea and cottonmouth. Taking a cold shower will also energize and shock the system out of a lethargic haze.
Avoiding caffeine and other diuretics are a big plus!
How to Avoid Negative Effects of Smoking Too Much Weed
Fortunately for cannabis users most of these side effects of smoking too much weed are avoidable. It starts off with reducing cannabis use if possible, but the following will help keep the symptoms at bay.
1) Eat and hydrate before smoking
Enjoying a proper meal and staying hydrated will take the stress off your body from a THC overload. When you eat before consuming cannabis, it slows down the absorption rate of THC by our bodies. Drinking a big glass of water will also keep your body hydrated and fends off any potential negative effects.
2) Know your dosage
Dosing is perhaps the most important step. If you are a novice cannabis user, don’t try and smoke more than a half joint, especially to yourself. This becomes even more important when it comes to edibles. Never try more than 5mg for your first time. Wait 2 hours before ingesting more if needed.
3) Enjoy the situation
Going into a session with feelings of angst and fear may only grow as you smoke. While cannabis can relieve stress, paranoia and anxiety, going in with stress about how the effects may be will only cause further problems.
Relax and take some deep breaths, cannabis is to be enjoyed. And when used in moderation and dosed properly, it’s an uplifting experience.
4) Have a ‘tolerance break’
When the paranoia, stress and weed hangovers start piling on, it’s time for a tolerance break. Also known as a T-Break, tolerance breaks are a great way to not only reduce the side effects of smoking too much weed but give yourself a refresher. Taking some time to reset your CB1 receptors and allow your body’s tolerance to fall back to normal will do you a world of good.
Cannabis is a Medicine and Should be Treated as Such
If you haven’t noticed yet, most of these issues arise from the overuse and abuse of cannabis. Just like any other medication, when taken to an extreme, the repercussions can’t be good. That’s not to say cannabis can’t be enjoyed recreationally. But, if you find yourself smoking from morning to night and racking up the anxiety, it’s time to address the issue for what it is.
With the proper and safe use of cannabis, it’s a great tool for relaxation and alleviating a wealth of medicinal issues. Abuse the herb, and issues are bound to arise.