Fatal cannabis overdose in humans is a thing that simply doesn’t exist. The scarcity of cannabinoid receptors in the medullary nuclei (the part of the brain that controls respiratory and cardiovascular functions) is largely the reason why there have been no reports of fatal cannabis overdose in humans.
Nevertheless, heavy doses can produce certain unpleasant reactions. In some rare cases, moderate doses could result in acute panic reactions characterized by anxiety, paranoia, self-consciousness, loss of self-control, wild racing thoughts, and disorientation. Fortunately, these reactions tend to subside with a few hours with no medical treatment required. Sufferers need to be reassured that their pain or discomfort will be brief. More often than not, you’ll experience both pleasant and unpleasant episodes in alternating waves as thoughts ebb and flow.
Of course, panic reactions are most likely to occur in novice users who have tried excessive doses in unpleasant surroundings. First-time users should be especially careful and start out with small amounts of cannabis to allow themselves plenty of time to experience the drug comfortably.
Occasionally, marijuana can produce physical symptoms that are quite unpleasant. For instance, some individuals have experience headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting all of which might be spurred by the mental anxiety incurred from a large dose. Some people actually experience these symptoms regularly almost like an allergic reaction.
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Frequently, however, adverse physical reactions result directly from an overdose. Heavy overdoses can be remarkably unpleasant and temporarily debilitating, but never fatal. Symptoms range from anxiety, panic, excitement, hallucinations, and a racing heartbeat at the beginning to immobility, torpor, and even unconsciousness after a while. Again, though, the effects are all temporary and tend to wear off after a few hours of sleep with no antidote or medication required.
Overdoses are less likely with inhaled marijuana than with oral ingestion, because smokers will be able to sense instantly when they have had enough or when the psychoactive content of the drug is too high. Occasionally smokers might step “one toke over the line” prior to sensing that they are too high and need to stop. Oral doses are harder to quantify because you can eat several “doses” of brownie and not feel any different until an hour or two later.
Cannabis poisonings were considerably more common at the turn of the 20th century when medicinal preparations would be dispensed in potent tonics containing hundreds of doses per fluid ounce.
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