what is greening out what is greening out

Don’t Get Stuck in the Weeds: How to Avoid Getting Too High on Cannabis


Today’s cannabis certainly overpowers the classic 1960s bud in terms of potency.

As technological advancement fuses with the cannabis industry, we see growers and extract manufacturers racing to develop the strongest cannabis possible.

Cured flowers can now reach a THC potency of over 20% (compared to the 12-14% grown just decades ago). 

This shift has required many cannabis users to understand dosing in a deeper way. With concentrates exceeding 85% THC, it is all too easy for someone to experience unwanted and intensified adverse effects or a ‘green out’. 

What does greening out mean? More importantly, is it possible to overdose on weed? We cover this and more critical safety tips below! 

what is greening out

The difference between what happens during a blackout vs. a green-out

When you hear the term green out, it may bring to mind the term blacking out; a term meant to describe the sensation of blurred to missing memory from consuming alcohol in excess. Though the terms share similarities, the biological experiences are quite different. 

If a person is intoxicated by alcohol, blacking out occurs when alcohol blocks the transfer of memories from short-term to long-term storage, also known as memory consolidation. The hippocampus is unable to function normally on high amounts of alcohol, leading to memory issues and a number of other incapacitating effects. Additional issues with motor function and problem-solving make blacking out a high-risk choice if not handled responsibly. 

greening out versus a Black out

In contrast, consuming too much marijuana to green out may present some psychological symptoms and uncomfortable effects but will not impact the nervous system in the same way.

Motor skills and reaction time are both not affected by too much weed, according to studies surveying the effects of alcohol and cannabis on motor vehicle drivers.

Though it may still impact short-term memory, cannabis is a relatively safe substance and presents little to no known long-term health risks (especially compared to tobacco and alcohol). 

Can you overdose on cannabis?

Can you overdose on cannabis, smoking cannabis

When considering the lethal limits, alcohol clocks in at the most high-risk, surpassing both heroin and cocaine.

The LD50, or lethal dose of 50%, is the amount of an ingested substance that kills half of a test sample.  Alcohol’s LD50 is roughly 10 oz or 20 beers. Cannabis, on the other hand, has an LD50 of 635 oz.

To consume this quantity of cannabis within a 2-4 hour period of time would be physically impossible and would hit a ceiling with the intensity of its effects.

Whether you consume 3oz in two hours or 6oz, you will likely still feel the same amount of dizziness and psychoactive effects. This would be unpleasant but never lethal.

In fact, we have yet to see a recorded death due to cannabis consumption. This is not to say that there haven’t been life threatening accidents when someone was actively high, but death by cannabis is, as we know it for now, likely impossible

So overall, a cannabis binge is relatively safe when compared to other substances for both short and long-term health. Though comforting in some ways, it is still possible to over-use cannabis and experience discomfort.

But why? What happens when you green out?

What is greening out?

Greening out happens as the result of someone consuming more cannabis than their body can comfortably handle. The primary culprit of this sensation is THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis resin. 

This cannabinoid offers chronic pain relief and euphoric effects, but when consumed in high concentration, it can feel intoxicating and potentially overwhelming.

The duration of a green out varies from person to person and depends on how much cannabis you consumed.Other cannabinoids like CBG or CBN can enhance the sedative or body-load effects of cannabis, making you feel heavy, tired, or even dizzy. 

Each person may experience greening out a little differently, but generally, most people describe the effects to be: 

  • Dizziness

  • Lightheadedness 

  • Anxiety/paranoia

  • Lack of body temperature regulation

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Confusion

  • Panic attacks

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Hallucinations (auditory and visual) 

If you are cross-fading or pairing cannabis with other substances like caffeine or alcohol, some of these greening-out symptoms may worsen. However, if weed is the only substance you have consumed, you can rest assured that the common symptoms will dissipate without having to seek medical attention.

It is important to note that stimulants like cocaine can become more deadly when paired with cannabis, as both substances can raise your heart rate. It is always important to consult a trusted medical professional before combining cannabis with either prescription or illicit drugs.

Suggested Read: Mixing Cannabis with Alcohol

How long does greening out last?

how long does greening our last

Though it is different for each person, the physical symptoms of a green out can go anywhere from 1-2 minutes to 1-2 few hours.

Your perception of time may be slightly distorted in this state, so it is essential to remind yourself that the experience is temporary and look for ways to distract your mind or comfort your body while you wait. 

Dosing safety with different methods of cannabis consumption

The most powerful way you can prevent panic about cannabis is by understanding what dose works best for you.

Each person will have their unique relationship with cannabis and thus different tolerances. Your tolerance is determined by lifestyle and genetic factors and reflects how your body responds to varying doses of cannabis. 

When first experimenting with cannabis, it is always good to start with a modest dose of 5mg and slowly build up over time to your desired effects. Taking regular tolerance breaks will keep your doses working effectively and will reduce the risk of cannabis toxicity or any unwanted effects. 

Beyond the dosing portion, the method you choose to consume cannabis may affect the potency of its effects, too.

Edibles are metabolized slower and undergo a different process in the body that can intensify their effects, while smoking weed may come on immediately strong but will dissipate effects much faster. 

Some cannabis strains are more likely to induce green out

In the same way that our dose size is dependent on our unique experience, each strain of cannabis may affect each person differently. 

Strains high in terpenes like myrcene, terpinolene, and limonene tend to intensify the psychoactive effects of THC and may feel stronger than others (regardless of the THC percentage). 

To avoid paranoia, get to know the strains you enjoy and see what cannabinoid and terpene profiles are the most complimentary to your body and needs. 

Things to reduce a green out experience

If you or a friend are experiencing a green out, there are a few things you can do to minimize harm while waiting for the cannabis’ effects to fade. Some of these tips may even soften the effects, causing the green out to fade while still getting to enjoy the calming sensations of cannabis. 

Ways to help alleviate green out: 

  • Stay hydrated - this will help you feel a little less dizzy and will help remove the cannabis from your system sooner.

  • Hunger/Blood Sugar - eating even just a small piece of candy could help raise your blood sugar and stimulate your digestive system in a grounding way. 

  • Setting - sometimes, a change of scenery can help distract the mind, bring you back to your body, and help reset your mental health. Going for a walk or finding a quiet place to sit is always a great start if you feel anxious. 

  • Avoid mixing with other substances (tobacco, caffeine, and too much alcohol) - these can intensify the effects.

  • Breathe - coming back to your breath can be a great way to lower your heart rate and ground you physically. 

  • Use CBD to counteract effects - In some cases, people have used CBD to combat the effects of THC. The theory behind this is that the CBD floods the same nervous system receptors, creating competition for the THC to take effect. Ultimately, this is a great option if you take it quickly after noticing you don’t feel well. However, CBD will only help you not get any higher than you already are; it will not sober you completely. 

  • Limit stimulus - In the same way that a change of scenery is helpful, sensory triggers can exacerbate the green-out experience. Turn down bright lights, and change or lower the volume of any music or audio that could be bothering you. If a room is too hot or cold this could impact your experience as well.

  • Sleep - Though your mind might be racing in some moments, if you can rest and fall asleep this is a really useful way to rest your mind and wait-out a green out. 

How to avoid greenouts

Ideally, most cannabis consumers aim to avoid green-out experiences altogether. Each of these tips below are topics we have addressed in this article, but summarized here so you can refer back to this quick guide on dosing and cannabis use safety. 

  1. Start low and go slow! 5mg increments to start, and increase your dose as needed. Avoid taking over 50mg of THC in one sitting. 

  2. Stay hydrated: Nothing can make you dizzier on cannabis than dehydration. 

  3. Dose edibles with caution: Consider trying only 2.5mg if you are new to consuming edibles. 

  4. Understand your tolerance:Taking breaks and keeping track of your dose size can prevent unwanted side effects. 

  5. Stay well fed: Consuming cannabis on an empty stomach can intensify the effects. 

  6. Avoid cross-fading: Mixing cannabis and alcohol is a very common way people experience green outs. 

  7. Prescription medications: Always check with your doctor before mixing cannabis with any prescription medications.

  8. Plan a safe and comfortable setting. Enjoy your cannabis in a setting that makes you feel safe, comfortable, and free to express yourself. 

  9. Pay attention to potency and strain types: Understanding the types of cannabis products that work for you can help you avoid strains that might trigger green out. 

  10. Lastly, CBD is your friend! When in doubt, mix CBD in with your cannabis for a more blissed-out and mild sensation. This can be a lifesaver during a greenout. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What to do when you're greening out?

If you experience symptoms of greening or pain, you should see a health provider.

What does greening out feel like?

Greening out occurs if people consume too much cannabis. This is primarily referred to as cannabis abuse.

What is the difference between whitey and greening out?

"Whiting out" typically refers to feeling faint or passing out, often due to dehydration, low blood sugar, or sudden changes in blood pressure. "Greening out" is a term related explicitly to consuming too much cannabis, leading to symptoms like nausea, dizziness, and feeling overly paranoid or anxious.

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