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High Thoughts: Can I Overdose on Cannabis?

cannabis overdose
Written by Joseph Mcqueen

Cannabis is a drug with a plethora of effects and purposes. For centuries, different groups of people have harnessed this drug for its euphoric and medical benefits. Rastafarians use it in their religious practices to encourage oneness, the ancient Egyptians would inhale it from burning rocks during ceremonies and, now, people can utilise it for its medical purposes.

The world of cannabis is, undoubtedly, complex and varied. Not only that, but the effects can be positive for some, whilst negative for others. Nonetheless, usually one effect will take place for the majority. This effect is the ‘high thought’. High thoughts are triggered by cannabis and cannabis alone. The specific kind of ideas and questions that pop into your head during a THC high are one of a kind. Some can be lighthearted and fun, or inquisitive, spiritual and sentient, while some can be sometimes anxious in nature. In this article, we’ll be exploring one of the latter, and one that is particularly common among novice users. This question being: can I overdose on cannabis? Let’s delve into the truth and myths behind it. 

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What are High Thoughts?

The types of thoughts that can come into someone’s head during a high are, in want of a better word, special. They can be limitless. They can be sad. They can be happy. They can be basically anything. However, the high questions that can really boggle people’s brains are what we’re going to be focusing on today. These are the types of questions that, when they’re asked, leave the high person dumbfounded. It can also leave them in a state of existential crisis. But where do these come from and why are they triggered by cannabis?

Science Behind High Thoughts

Cannabis is first and foremost a natural growing plant. Although many creative products and ways of consuming it have been created over the years, it begins as a plant. This plant contains around 400 compounds, 100 of these being terpenes and 100 of these being cannabinoids. The terpenes are responsible for the aromas and flavours of the specific cannabis strain. For example, Myrcene can be slightly musky, Limonene often smells of lemon and Caryophyllene can give herbal scents. 

Then there are cannabinoids, which are responsible for the effects of cannabis. These include the well-known CBD and THC, as well as many lesser known ones. As research improves, more information is being found out about the many various compounds within the cannabis plant. The cannabinoids react with the endocannabinoid system in the body and can alter the immune system, mood, memory, the muscles and appetite. THC, which is the most prominent psychoactive cannabinoid, alters the state of the mind and triggers the well known ‘high’ experience. Common effects of THC include: 

  • Euphoria
  • Relaxation
  • Giggliness
  • Increased appetite 
  • Deep thought
  • Openness 

Deep Thoughts 

Deep thoughts or high thoughts are triggered by cannabis. But why? Why do we have deeper thoughts and questions when we’re high? Well, some argue that this is due to the relaxation caused by CBD, mixed with the brain enhancing effects of THC. When you consume cannabis, your body and mind relaxes, allowing you to focus on the thoughts you may have usually ignored or found unimportant. It’s these questions that can suddenly come to the surface. Trips, caused by psychedelic drugs, create crazy thoughts and hallucinations. However, even though a cannabis high is less potent, it can still have those same deep thoughts and questions. It’s like your brain, for the first time, is allowed to stop working so quickly and sit with one idea or concept at a time. 

However, there’s also suggestions that your brain works harder when you’re experiencing a high. 

Maxim states:

Cannabis enhances neural activity in the frontal cortex of your brain, which is essentially command central. It handles everything from attention and problem solving, to personality and temperament.”

And Growth Op also adds:

“Involving 32 volunteers who reported having previous experiences with cannabis, they were given either a placebo, or two intravenous doses of THC. MRI scans showed increased cerebral blood flow in several regions of the brain when THC was injected, while the placebo group demonstrated no detectable change.”

Therefore, the reason for high thoughts is not completely known. Nevertheless, they most definitely occur. That’s why, in this article, we’ll be delving into one that may come up more often than people will like to admit. ‘Can I overdose on cannabis?’

Can I Overdose on Cannabis?

It’s not uncommon for someone to ask this question when they’re high. Afterall, when most news articles or drug education sites speak about drugs, they’ll usually mention a collection of horrible stories of overdose. These stories are all valid and devastating, but the weaponization of them to discourage drug use can sometimes be more political and sinister than people think. The truth is, young people will probably always be interested in exploring themselves and substances, so surely the main priority should be to educate them in using them safely rather than avoiding the topic altogether.

Cannabis is a schedule II drug in the US and a class B drug in the UK. It’s not surprising then that people often wonder whether cannabis could also cause an overdose. The answer is, of course, yes. But before answering this question, we will first need to define the concept of overdosing, as the education behind this word is often skewed. 

The Definition of Overdose

What does overdosing actually mean? With mass hysteria often surrounding the world of drugs, sometimes the real definition of this word can be easily forgotten. Well, according to the Cambridge dictionary, the definition is: 

“too much of a drug taken or given at one time, either intentionally or by accident

Many people will assume that drug overdose means fatality, but overdose can also refer to someone taking a drug and experiencing unpleasant effects. This is why it’s so important to first define what the word ‘overdose’ actually means, otherwise cannabis users may not understand why they don’t always enjoy using a specific strain of weed. Overdosing is basically taking too many drugs, beyond the point of enjoyment.

Myths Vs Facts

There are many myths surrounding the idea of cannabis overdose, which we are here to debunk. Firstly, it’s definitely possible for someone to have an unpleasant experience, whilst using cannabis. Therefore, with the definition being what it is, it is of course possible to overdose. However, VeryWellMind states:

Marijuana doesn’t come with a clear definition of overdose. In fact, doctors aren’t entirely sure how much tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) it takes to overdose.”

The only way to measure an overdose is to ask the consumer how they feel. If they begin to feel unpleasant effects, then, in a sense, they are experiencing an overdose. In addition, THC isn’t the only psychoactive substance and causer of a potential bad experience. There are many other psychoactive cannabinoids, which have yet to be fully researched. In fact, some of these are reported to even be stronger than THC

Risk of Unpleasant Effects

Overdosing and experiencing negative effects is definitely common when consuming cannabis. Some experience it heavier with strains consisting of higher percentages of THC. 

These effects include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea 
  • Decrease in blood sugar
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia 

As we’ve said, any negative experience using cannabis can technically be referred to as an overdose. Overdose doesn’t always have to link to deaths. These after-effects are common, especially for people who are unsure how much to take and what their body reacts well to. In addition, with cannabis education being so limited in certain countries, many people don’t fully understand how various strains can react differently with certain people. 

Cannabis & Alcohol

It’s also common for people to experience worse effects when mixing cannabis and alcohol together. Ever heard the common phrase: ‘beer before grass you’re on your ass; grass before beer you’re in the clear’. Well, there’s some truth to it. People often experience nausea and can ‘throw a whitey’ when mixing the two substances. This is because alcohol can enhance the effects of THC, and vise versa, making the entire experience far more potent. This type of overdose is hard to blame entirely on cannabis, as it’s actually alcohol that is responsible for increasing THC’s effects.

Can Cannabis Be Fatal?

Some only consider an overdose to mean death. As we’ve discovered, overdosing simply means having an unpleasant experience after consuming a substance. Nevertheless, this does of course include potential death. Methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin use have all been surrounded by news of devastating fatalities. What about cannabis? Healthline states:

“Most medical experts agree that while marijuana can have negative health consequences, it’s unlikely to cause death. The psychoactive effects of marijuana can be concerning, but not necessarily harmful.”

Some argue that cannabis can have adverse long-term effects that can cause mental health issues, which could end in death; but all that is highly debatable. However, when it comes to an instant death overdose, cannabis is very unlikely to cause this. In fact, many people would argue that this has never happened. Nonetheless, it’s a long running debate. It is certainly true however that cannabis is not a drug – much like some stimulants and opioids – that can commonly cause death by overdose. 


High thoughts are a common part of being high. Many questions will pop into people’s heads and leave them wanting to know more. Well, in this article, we’ve tackled the age old question of cannabis overdose. It’s mostly important to realise that overdosing doesn’t always mean fatality. In fact, overdosing can just mean an unpleasant experience. Therefore the answer is yes. You can overdose on cannabis. But, if you do your homework, learn what you like, then your experience with cannabis should be full of joy, not displeasure.

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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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About the author

Joseph Mcqueen

Joseph is a cannabis journalist in the UK. His search and love for the truth in the cannabis industry is what drives him to write.