Any cannabis consumer can tell you that if there’s one feeling no one enjoys, it’s the moment when you realize, “I’m too high.” For those of us who use marijuana regularly, it’s almost inevitable… one day you’ll take a bigger dose than you’d like or you’ll take a break and your dosing requirements will change. You might have just tried concentrates for the first time and were caught off guard by their potency. Eventually, most cannabis users do experience a few negative side effects from smoking weed, eating edibles or taking one too many teaspoons of cannabis infused coconut oil. Or maybe you are just a low-tolerance consumer. There are a thousand ways it can happen, but once it does, the resulting experience can be uncomfortable and enough to turn off even the most seasoned cannabis lover.
The most common reported negative side effects from taking too much cannabis are:
- Anxiety and Paranoia
- Dry Mouth/ Cottonmouth
- Sleepiness/ Lethargy
Anxiety and Paranoia
One of the worst side effects of THC is anxiety and paranoia. Though small amounts of THC are likely to only induce mild paranoia or social anxiety, edibles and large doses can cause exaggerated side effects (just ask the guy who ate an edible and called 911 because he thought he was dying). THC is known to relieve anxiety in smaller doses and increase it in larger; this is due to its biphasic effects, meaning it can have two opposite effects in high doses. While there are some people are genetically predisposed to experience anxiety with cannabis as a result of brain chemistry.
If you are more prone to experiencing cannabis’ anxious effects, CBD is an excellent anxiety-fighting compound, and for many people it can be used to counteract too much THC- even after the fact! Another helpful trick if you’re combating paranoia and anxiety, is a simple household ingredient found in kitchens and restaurants everywhere can come to your rescue: black pepper. Just sniff or chew on a few black peppercorns and it should provide almost instantaneous relief. It also helps to only consume when you’re in a comfortable place, such as at home or with friends.
Better known as the dreaded “cottonmouth,” high-THC cannabis can also make your mouth drier than the Sahara Desert. Believe it or not, there are cannabinoid receptors in our saliva glands. THC mirrors a naturally occurring chemical called anandamide, which binds to these receptors to decrease saliva production. THC, with its high affinity toward these receptors, exaggerates that effect much to our dismay. Remember to dose low and keep plenty of water (and maybe some chewing gum) on-hand in the event that cottonmouth strikes.
Unless you have an under-active appetite, you might consider the munchies a nuisance and side effect of THC. Because it stimulates areas of the brain associated with appetite, THC can jumpstart a fierce hunger that may or may not motivate you to order the entire left side of the Taco Bell menu. You can curb this side effect with high-CBD or high-THCV strains.
Once again, this “side effect” is seen by some as a therapeutic benefit since THC fights insomnia and promotes rest. However, if you’re looking to stay active while using cannabis, bear in mind that some strains can induce naps, lethargy, or an early night’s sleep. It’s entirely up to individual body chemistry, since the more commonly touted labels of Sativa vs. Indica are proving to be irrelevant when talking about a strains effects. (But more on that another time…)
You may experience a number of other side effects with cannabis such as headaches, dizziness, and respiratory difficulties, although these are less common. It’s always a good idea to communicate your cannabis consumption with your doctor in case it interacts with another medication you are taking. Because its side effects tend to be mild, many patients prefer it to other medications, but familiarizing yourself with any and all risks is the best way to ensure a good experience for yourself and the loved ones you’re enjoying it with.