Cannabis Overdose Is It Possible?

Overdosing on cannabis is not possible. There has never been a recorded death simply from consuming the substance. But saying it’s impossible to OD on cannabis depends completely on how we define it right? When thinking of overdoses, people will often think of fatal ones. However, the actual definition is simply an excessive and dangerous dose of a drug. So, you can overdose on something without it being fatal. It’s certainly possible to take excessive amounts of cannabis, this usually happens when taking concentrated forms of the substance such as edibles or dabs. But whether or not you took excessive amounts of cannabis, it’s not a dangerous substance. Meaning, no matter how much you take you will not die. Cannabis is quite literally incapable of killing a human being simply through ingestion alone.


Two of the most famous substances people overdose on, alcohol and opioids can both kill you when taken in too large of a quantity. So how does the overdose mechanism work in substances like alcohol in opioids? In those who take opioids, respiratory depression is one of the main causes of death. To put it more simply, when overdosing on opioids, the person often becomes unconscious and their body then forgets to breathe. When taken, opiates activate various opioid receptors in the brain. Opiate receptors can be found in the pre-Botzinger complex in the brainstem, a part of the brain that helps regulate breathing. When taking large amounts of opiates. The pre-Botzinger complex becomes depressed, this then causes breathing to slow down and in some cases stop altogether.

Alcohol overdoses, per usual, typically occur when too much of the substance is consumed. When your liver becomes unable to process the amount of alcohol you’ve drunk, the same systems in the brain that regulate breathing can shut down which will, in turn, lead to death. Alcohol also depresses the nerves which control the gag reflex which can cause it to improperly function. Because alcohol is an irritant to the stomach, it’s safe to assume that throwing up is a very real possibility. This, of course, proposes the danger of choking on vomit, which can be fatal if the person choking is no conscious. Drinking more alcohol than your body can handle is typically referred to as alcohol poisoning.


So why can’t ingesting cannabis be fatal? Essentially, cannabinoid receptors are not located in parts of the brain that control essential functions such as breathing or the gag reflex. Instead, they are most highly concentrated in areas of the brain such as the basal ganglia, the hippocampus, etc. Areas of the brain that essentially control movement and cognition. While cannabinoid receptors are found in many areas of the brain, they are not found in extremely important areas such as the pre-Botzinger complex. So while alcohol and opioid overdoses can shut down essential body functions, due to the location of cannabinoid receptors in the brain cannabis is simply unable to replicate these effects.

When “overdosing” on cannabis, the worst you’ll get is a bit of a groggy, hazy feeling the next day.

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