The Reasons You Cannot Overdose On Cannabis

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Categories : Cannabis newsMedical cannabis

The Reasons You Cannot Overdose On Cannabis

One myth about cannabis is, that as it is a drug, you must be able to overdose on it. We take a closer look at whether this is actually possible.

Nobody ever died from a cannabis overdose. Very few people experienced serious issues because of a huge THC intake, and these few were mostly novice users. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take enough THC to feel a bit sick. Anyway, it’s not possible to overdose and eventually die from smoking or ingesting cannabis because our neuronal cannabinoid receptors are not located in the brain’s areas in charge of controlling respiration and heartbeat. Opioids do act on those areas instead, and people abundantly die because of opioids overdoses.


Cannabis and opioids exert their action on different biochemical pathways. Opioid receptors are also present in some areas of the brain, that control breathing, thus taking too many painkillers can cause a person to stop breathing. Instead, CB1 and CB2 receptors stimulation or inhibition cannot cause a patient to stop breathing, no matter how much cannabis was inhaled or ingested.

This proven fact automatically puts cannabis at a high security level as a medicine, according to a therapeutic index, which measures a drug’s safety. A therapeutic index is simply the ratio between a drug’s lethal dose and its therapeutic dosage. Based on the amount of the active principle, that causes an effective therapeutic action, THC has a therapeutic index of 1:40,000. This means a patient would need to take 40.000 times a normal therapeutic (or recreational) dose in order to be at risk of death. Opioid-based painkillers such as morphine sport a nice therapeutic index of only 1:70.

It doesn’t hurt to remember, that novice users sometimes take improper doses of cannabis, leading to a few negative symptoms, such as agitation and paranoia. This cannot be considered an “overdose”, as it is only temporary and wears off within a few hours. Concentrated extracts and edibles also pose some risks, simply because they contain high concentration of cannabinoids thus making it easier to go above a comfortable tolerance - but you still won't overdose. Legal things like alcohol and painkillers are lethal, yet cannabis, that is basically impossible to overdose on, remains illegal - it is a wonder!