Can Cannabis Kill You?: The Lethal Dose of THC

jar of marijuana buds and person weighing them

Ever wondered how much CBD/THC is needed to take someone out for good? How much does one need to consume for it to be a lethal dose?

It’s easy to believe the hype surrounding medical and recreational cannabis. Proponents swear that cannabis can cure all — while naysayers might call it “the devil’s weed.”

Sure, it’s easy to laugh at the propaganda, however it is something to take seriously. For those who think marijuana is the wonder herb that can never kill, consider the strange but true cases of hyponatremia, the dilution of the salt in the blood caused by drinking way too much water in a short period of time. This goes to show that too much of anything can be bad for you, even if it is ordinarily healthy or benign.

This is why it is important to know what the risks of THC really are in the age of the cannabis craze, even if the serious dangers are far and few between.

While CBDMEDIC ™ does not use THC in any of our products, being well-informed about the potential dangers of cannabis is never a bad thing. It is our job to not only sell our products, but to keep you informed so you feel comfortable and confident in our abilities to provide a safe and effective product.

What is THC?

Cannabis contains myriads of compounds, but the two that are catching a public frenzy are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). We cover them extensively in Know the Difference Between CBD and THC, however what you need to know here is that THC is the part of the plant that “gets you high.”

The compound has been proven effective for treating nausea, vomiting, and appetite concerns associated with cancer, AIDS, and anorexia; thus it inspired the synthetic drug Marinol. However, it is also a highly abused recreational component of the plant.

Can Marijuana Be Lethal?

A fatal overdose due solely to THC and marijuana use is highly unlikely, however, an article published in Forensic Science International titled “Sudden unexpected death under acute influence of cannabis” suggests that it could happen.

The authors state, “The acute toxicity of cannabinoids is said to be low and there is little public awareness of the potentially hazardous cardiovascular effects of cannabis, e.g. marked increase in heart rate or supine blood pressure.”

There have been a handful of reports of these THC overdoses in the past few years, nevertheless, these verdicts are highly controversial.

Marijuana is believed to have “a good safety record” according to Dr. Edward J. Newton, professor of Emergency Medicine at University of Southern California, albeit the psychotic episode that could occur from extreme excess might cause a person to make unsafe choices. Moreover, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) claims that no one has died from overdosing on marijuana. And the Center for Disease Control claim that a fatal overdose is unlikely. In fact, an article published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that medical marijuana can be the key to reversing the deadly opiate epidemic.

 

But the jury is still out officially. A handful of research reports still assert that it is possible.

In short, those with heart conditions and severe psychiatric problems should take warning. However, the risks are quite low for the average, healthy population.

Thirty milligrams (6.6 pounds) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) is the lethal half dose (LD50) of THC purported to have a 50 percent chance of killing a healthy person weighing 150 pounds. In layman’s terms, you need to smoke or consume about 1/3 of your body weight in about 15 minutes. That is, approximately 600 kg (approximately 1350 pounds) at minimum.

Good luck with that. Even Bob Marley could not have reached these levels. You’d theoretically have to fill up your car with thousands upon thousands of joints and light them all up at once and hotbox yourself. However, with the THC content getting stronger and stronger over the years, coupled with edible goods, waxes, oils, and butters; you should know how much THC you are consuming.

The lethal half dose of marijuana is not the only way THC can be deadly. People with heart problems, lung problems, and/or are taking a blood thinner like Warfarin could experience complications that lead to death. Cardiovascular issues like chest pain, rapid breathing, and a heart attack; internal bleeding, organ failure, and blood clotting from excessive THC use can lead to death with these conditions.

As research becomes more advanced in this field, we hope to see more precise answers to lethal doses and adverse reactions with medications and medical conditions.

Other Ways Weed Can Harm You: “Greening Out”

It is also entirely possible that you can use too much and experience very uncomfortable non-lifethreatening short-term effects. Since recreational marijuana legalization in Colorado, there have been increased hospital visits associated with overconsumption, largely due to temporary psychosis and Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, which causes intense nausea, vomiting, and severe dehydration.

It is common enough that the stoner community has created a name for it — “greening out.” Like it sounds, if you can get sick and “black out” on alcohol, you can “green out” on marijuana.

Signs of too much THC include:

  • Extreme disorientation and confusion
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Panic
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Unintentional injury due to lack of awareness and impaired judgment

Additionally, if I didn’t see it myself, I would not believe that anyone could actually faint by smoking or consuming too much weed. This strange phenomenon has been linked to a rapid blood sugar drop or blood pressure drop, while others have speculated that THC-induced fainting happens when some people mix THC with alcohol. The official medical diagnosis is not clear to date.

Signs you may be about to faint include:

  • Feeling dizzy
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision

For these reasons, like alcohol consumption, you should know your personal limits (as well as the legal requirements in your area of course.

Don’t Panic, Medical Cannabis Has Its Advantages Too

With all this said, there are countless anecdotal reports on the efficacy of medical cannabis. It has helped patients fighting nausea and weight gain issues associated with AIDS, cancer, and anorexia to name a few. Moreover, states where cannabis has become legal are showing drops in opiate abuse.

Nevertheless, there are some risks to consider, as with any medication. When using products derived from the cannabis plant for medicinal purposes, you want to ensure you are using something safe, effective, and non-habit forming. If you have serious health conditions, be it psychological or physical, be sure to consult your doctor.

In general, medical cannabis has few risks. However, if you are concerned about your medical condition, choose a product without THC just to be on the safe side. That means looking for a product that uses legal CBD in some form, preferably CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD where there is little to no presence of THC. We use only broad-spectrum CBD oil and extract without THC in any of our products. Even if our products did have THC in them, they would not cause a THC overdose since they are not transdermal, meaning that our products do not enter the bloodstream.

With CBDMEDIC, you’re getting the maximum therapeutic benefits that cannabis has to offer without the worry of the side effects and repercussions associated with THC.

What to look for in a safe cannabis product:

  • Look for a history of experience in the pharmaceutical industry
  • Look for transparent labeling with the amount of CBD, THC, and other ingredients in the product
  • Look for strong active ingredients
  • Look for the traceability of ingredients, so the ingredients can be tracked to their original source
  • Look for a certificate of conformance (COA)

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Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. It has not been approved by the FDA to diagnose, treat, prevent, cure, or mitigate any diseases or conditions. We use CBD in our products for cosmetic purposes only.

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