Of Edibles And Overdosing

It has occurred to me that some people might just get the wrong idea.

After all, I’ve written at least half a dozen stories here about various of my adventures involving overdoses of Medical Marijuana edibles, which left me in various states of highness, generally in the double digits (AKA “tripping balls“).

I’d like to categorically state that I am not, by any means, attempting to act as a role model, portraying this behavior in a positive light, or trying to “impress” anyone by publishing these stories. Rather, I’ve been attempting to illustrate the dangers of blindly consuming new edibles, and especially the dangers of over-consuming, especially intentionally (recreational users, I’m mostly talking to you here).

As is common in medically oriented literature, I use the word “overdose” here in its correct meaning: a dose that is higher than medically necessary. A mild overdose will simply get you high. “Overdose” does not imply “something that will kill you”, though the term “fatal overdose” does.

While even massive overdoses of cannabis are not themselves acutely life-threatening to healthy individuals, high doses of sativas or other THC-rich strains can induce temporary symptoms of paranoia or panic in some people, with accompanying rise in blood pressure and heart rate. Very high doses of any strain can also cause temporary loss of consciousness (“greening out”). Clearly, either of these effects could have serious consequences based on other factors, such as a pre-existing heart condition or simply falling and hitting your head.

So now I’d like to promote these five safety rules for edibles:

1. Try less than 1/8 of the recommended dose for any new edible.
2. If it smells strongly, it probably is seriously strong.
3. If it tastes strongly, it really is seriously strong!
4. Wait at least 2 hours, or until you feel the effects, before adding another same-sized piece to your dose (assuming you decide you do want more).
5. Edibles always have a built-in time delay. Plan in advance what you’ll be doing and where you’ll be when they kick in (generally anywhere from 1/2 hour to 2 hours after eating).

Good luck and be careful!

http://gplus.to/OldHippie Old Hippie is a father of two boys and thankfully living in California where all this kind of thing is legal. He started smoking marijuana in 1967 in high school, experimented with mind-expanding drugs of all kinds, and then straightened out 15 or so years later to become an airplane pilot. After being diagnosed with depression in 2000, he lost his job and most of the following decade to prescription medications (such as antidepressants) which sapped his energy and will. Finally, a chance conversation with a friend led to a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana (MMJ). This changed his entire life, health, and outlook for the better. BeyondChronic.com is his continuing story. It’s also his way to provide experienced advice on using medical marijuana effectively and responsibly, as well as advocacy, activism, and support for others. Old Hippie teaches about safe use of cannabis edibles, Canna Caps, vaporizers, dosing, and even microdosing.

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  1. Tiana Taylor said:

    I had tried edible brownies before I must of got a bad batch because they had no effect. So I went searching to try and find what kind of car you get from an edible. I went to a collective and asked for a strong edible that I would actually feel and I was given a jolly rancher. About an hour after I took it I felt like I was on meth or something horrible horrible paranoia and I thought the world was going to end. I still smoke my medical marijuana but I will stay far far away from edibles

    • Old Hippie said:

      Well, you did ask for something strong! Unfortunately you didn’t specify what kind you wanted, so it sounds like you got a strong sativa, which can trigger paranoia at high doses. It’s not the fact that you ate it that caused your problem, it was the dosage. You wouldn’t smoke 6 strong joints, one after the other, because you could tell you were getting too high and you’d stop. That’s why the only safe way is to make your own edibles, so you can control the dosage. Anyway, nugs and hugs!

  2. Gary said:

    I was wondering what the 4X, 8x, etc. ratings are for edibles? Is that the amount of THC or potency?

    • Old Hippie said:

      That’s usually an indication of the total potency. It’s supposed to signify that there’s 4x, 8x, or whatever that number of total doses in the edible.

  3. jennifer said:

    “3. If it tastes strongly, it really is seriously strong!”

    Oh boy, I wish I had had this information last night! I have very little experience with pot. I have smoked it with a vaporizer a few times to relax my legs when my restless leg syndrome is so bad that I can’t fall asleep. It relaxes me and I can fall asleep, and that’s about it. My boyfriend is the one with the script and the equipment. He’s been smoking for 20 years or so. He sets it all up for me and I take a puff and go to bed. Easy Peasy!

    Last night I had a wretched headache. I could tell it was going to put me down for the count for a few hours or maybe days. I didn’t have the vaporizer and I don’t like the water pipe because it burns my throat… so he ran out and bought me a cake pop “edible.” It was marked “one dose.” I ate it and boy did it taste bitter. I could taste the green from the first bite. Still, I wasn’t expecting to feel any differently than I do when I smoke. Just a little tired.

    An hour or so later, all hell broke loose. The floor was on the ceiling, the world made no more sense and I couldn’t stop laughing. But it didn’t feel good. I felt insane. And how come no one ever talks about how your tongue feels like it’s dipped in glue? I couldn’t stop laughing and when I tried to drink, it turned into the worst spit take ever. Then I just started crying, sobbing, weeping and saying that I didn’t like it. I really never want to experience anything like that again. It was really some of the most un-fun I’ve ever known. I finally fell asleep listening to the sound of my own voice saying, “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.” I couldn’t have stopped if I’d wanted to.

    On the upside. no headache!

    I just wonder why no one talks about having that kind of experience?

    • Old Hippie said:

      Well, nobody else talks about that generally because they’re more worried about their ego. But I had mine mostly removed, so I happily and honestly talk about everything that happens, good and bad! Felicity has had the same problem from her occasional edible overdoses…she just sits there saying, “I don’t like this, I don’t like this” and waits for the room to stop spinning.

      Glad it worked out OK for you (as with most people). I try to write a lot about this to save more people from the problem. Still beats overdoses of hard drugs or pharmaceuticals, which usually lead to a trip to the ER at best or the cemetery at worst…

      My only regret is that — like you — I wish you had seen the article before your edible experience!

      “One dose” my ass! Read this article and you’ll learn exactly how to calculate your own dosage to the milligram! Nugs and hugs!

    • AZHiker said:

      My husband bought a Carmel chew from the cannabis club, ate half of it the other day (the dosage was 1/8), and said he just felt a low level buzz for quite a while. I ate the other half before our trip to the mountains today; it didn’t take effect for about 1 1/2 hours, then it hit me and it felt like I was having a bad trip or had taken too much ecstasy. I haven’t been that messed up in over 10 years! There were a few times I felt on the verge of blacking out and driving on the narrow, winding mountain roads was crazy! I would think the high was residing and then it would hit full force again- this went on for about 8 hours. The plan was to go hiking after we got to the cabin, but all I could do was lie on the couch. Moral of the story – Make sure you follow dosage instructions!

    • Natalie said:

      Are you in Los Angeles by any chance? I think I know of those cake pops! And they’re so totally devastating if you don’t have tolerance …and you definitely don’t have much tolerance at all! Eek! They recommended them to me when I said I wanted something strong, and the budtender told me to “be careful”‘ because they tended to knock her on her ass.

  4. Jessie Rogers said:

    Last night I ate a gigantic bho edible, it was maybe a 6x6inch rice krispy treat govered in bho frosting. The actual dosage I am not sure of, my friend makes them and I know he makes them strong. After about 2 hours of a great time,I fell asleep. I woke up having severe hot flashes, my feet and hands were ice cold, and my heart rate was through the roof. My blood pressure was so high that my veins were popping out. I shook violently unless I REALLY focused on relaxing, which is what I did the whole time to not freak the fuck out. After about an hour, it felt like the inside of my mouth was puffing up and sort of numbing out. I had bad cottonmouth although I had been drinking tons of water after the first symptoms in hopes that I was just dehydrated. After 2 hours of agony I was able to fall asleep again, shaking the whole time. I smoke weed heavily every day and eat edibles pretty regularly, so this came as a shock to me. This was my first bad experience in all my life. I have no idea what happened. Truthfully, I was on the verge of going to the hospital. But I just told myself that it’s merely an edible and that would be a bit dramatic. So I just meditated and tried not to let me insane thoughts take over. There was a few minutes when i thought I was possessed, that’s how bad it was. Just thought I’d share my experience in case this happens to someone else. We found little information on the issue when researching ways to feel better. I took deep breaths and alternated between laying down and sitting up, drinking water the whole time.

    • Old Hippie said:

      Wow, that sounds epically horrible! Glad everything turned out all right. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Nugs and hugs!

      • Katie said:

        I’m new to edibles and the herb in general. My friend recommend I take a 1/4 brownie today… Huge mistake! I was spinning for hours and felt awful. BUT- I came up with some pretty awesome art ideas in the process. HOWEVER, I forgot them almost immediately after conception, then would get so frustrated at myself for losing such “magnificent” visions! I just now read your article and cried a big ‘doh! This brownie, supposedly lowest dose they make, smells and tastes very strong. Although I already figured out I took too much, it still helps to read this. :)

        • Old Hippie said:

          Glad you ended up OK, but of course most people do! Here’s hoping more people learn to take less. Nugs and hugs!

          • Rachael said:

            I had one of the worst experiences of my life today with edibles. After a number of years of not using pot at all, I became a medical marijuana patient a few months ago due to a health issue.

            I’ve been very happy with smoking it, and usually don’t do it until late in the day. Well, my asthma started acting up due to the daily smoking. I decided to try edibles.

            The woman who delivered my edibles to me from the dispensary really should have warned me about what she was selling. She sold my two 20 dose bars with 1,000 mg each of THC!

            I ate only a tiny portion of one bar. Like a quarter inch sliver cut in half to “play it safe”.

            Holy shit.

            About an hour later I was so high all I could do was lay on my bed in a certain position with my head facing down. Any movement brought on intense dizziness and vertigo. I soon thereafter threw up about 30 times into a bog bowl that my husband brought in for me. Seriously, I wretched and wretched then cried hysterically and then wretched some more.

            My heart was racing and I felt like I was dying.

            After the vomiting finally stopped, I stayed in that exact position for another 3 hours and hallucinated. Yes, the walls were breathing. The baseboards buckled up and down. Lights were unbearable. Strange shapes, colors and sounds bombarded me at a frightening pace.

            Finally, I fell asleep. An hour later I woke up still really really high, but I was able to walk to the kitchen and eat cereal, which helped me feel a bit better.

            13 hours later, I am mostly normal but still a tiny bit high. I have these two big edibles now and I’m not sure I want to do them ever again. But, they were expensive. So, I might just try a little pinch of the open one next time to see if it suits me better.

          • jennifer said:

            I don’t know how they get them so strong! I’ve been making my own, since my bad experience and keeping things pretty mild, but in my mind, still using a lot of cannabis. On Saturday I took my step-mother to a dispensary, where she purchased a small cannabis chocolate. Before I knew it, she had popped it into her mouth! Oh boy! She is used to my edibles and despite my repeated warnings, she assumed it would be the same. For the next few hours she was high as a kite and very uncomfortable. She has ALS and one of her reactions to the medicine was a chattering jaw. It went on for a couple of hours and she was unable to speak. I feel horrible about it. I’m sorry to hear you had a lousy experience too! Better luck next time.

          • Old Hippie said:

            Well, I guess those were legit 1000 mg! I once bought a “1000 mg. chocolate bar” but I doubt there was more than 30 mg in the entire thing!

            I suggest you melt those bars and mix them with 4 to 6 times their weight in chocolate, then “recast” them as small cubes using a candy mold. Then you will have some stuff at a dose you can deal with!

            Thanks very much for sharing your story with us. Nugs and hugs!

    • Nicole said:

      A few weeks back, I ate an edible at a party and about 30 minutes later I felt like shit. I sat down on the couch and instantly felt stuck. I felt like my legs didn’t work. I felt very hot but my hands were cold. My friend told me I was very red in the face. I was shaking uncontrollably. It was an awful feeling that lasted about 2 hours. I finally was able to drive home and go to bed.

      I’ve since then have eaten the same edibles and felt fine. Last night my brother and I ate them. He had a similar experience as I did when I had a “bad trip.” His heart felt like it was beating out of his chest, he was very nervous. He doesn’t smoke pot often so this was a completely new experience for him. He was shaking violently to the point where I felt like he might need medical attention. I told him to take deep breathes and stay calm, that he just had to ride it out. He was so uncomfortable. He says it was an awful headache and constant dizziness the whole time. He finally fell asleep and woke up completely fine.

      Why do edibles make your body shake violently and uncontrollably???

      • Old Hippie said:

        Edibles don’t do this, per se, any more than bongs are more dangerous than joints. It’s simply a matter of dosage, and most edibles are made way too strong for most people. That’s why I teach people to make their own and control the dosage.

    • jimbo said:

      Wow, that sounds like you just described exactly what happened to me last night…. Horrendous isn’t it?

      I ended up hugging my dog and watching the flames in the open fire to remind myself that everything changes, including my state of mind and therefore telling myself this would pass… Lol, sounds pretty funny now but it definitely was pretty dam far from funny at the time!

      Little tip for anyone this happens to – focus on your breathing. Focus so totally on it that all you are aware of is the sensation of air passing in and out of your nose, keeping the pace slow and steady – this technique coupled with the knowledge that its basically impossible to do any serious long term physical damage to yourself by eating weed basically got me thru!

      Worryingly I’m no newbie… Daily toker for 10 years and had plenty of experience… I just can’t imagine what this would have been like if I was a first timer – I’d have been sure I had permanently lost my mind.

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  10. kim said:

    I had a very bad expereince last night. I had ate a half a bar of white chocolate edible with a high dose of THC. Yes it smelled strong and tasted even stonger. I had been eating it a little each day and was fine; but then decided to eat the rest of the bar (which was about half). I felt like I was dying; my heart was beating so fast, I kept drinking water; bue felt extreme thirst. I then was sitting on the toilet many a times. I then wanted to throw up – my stomach would not release the contents of the bar via mouth. I was highly paranoid. It was the most horrible expereince. Never again. I wish the guy would have warned me. I flet like I was X; but with a little more control. It was awful.

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  12. mainman said:

    Old Hippie – I have a bunch of BHO, and I was wondering about making an edible with.

    In the past, I’ve had great success making firecrackers. Then, I got the idea to put about 8 ounces of nutella in a glass jar, heat it up, then an eighth ounce of finely ground bud and cook it at 275 for 30 minutes. Then, I’d eat a tiny spoonful, and it’d work marvelously for hours!

    I wonder, now that I have a ton of BHO on hand, can I do the same with BHO? ..Can I cook a gram or two of BHO in nutella the same way I did with flowers?

    Any other advice on making edibles with BHO?

    • Old Hippie said:

      Well, yes, but BHO has to be decarboxylated just like buds do. And don’t forget that BHO is generally at least 75% THC by weight so it is much more powerful. So be careful of your dosing! One gram of BHO is probably around the same THC content as an eighth ounce of bud, so that could be a convenient way to substitute. Nugs and dabs and hugs!

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  14. Banja said:

    I have friends who smoke a lot so they have a high tolerance. Whenever I make edibles for them, it has to be high potency. Seriously, licking the spoon is enough for me! I remember making brownies once, I ate half a square and within half an hour was in the stratosphere. I was just WAY too high. And I kept getting higher and higher. It was uncomfortable, everything was a blur and my head was pounding. I was high for almost 2 days, the “trip” halted after about 18 hours. I didn’t feel nauseous but I just lost control of myself and I couldn’t think or focus at all. I had to stay in bed because I just wanted to come down. The next day I was just stoned and tweaking every now and then. A weekend wasted.

    Now I am more careful with edibles. But I seriously think that the FDA should regulate it- it is very easy for people to consume too many edibles especially if they are new to it.

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  18. Anonymous said:

    I can testify to what your calling Green Out ,not seeing it mentioned on any other site. Went to A Rascal Flatts concert last weekend and ate a oatmeal cookie that i had made that was a lot larger than the others. and i had said to myself that is too much but did it anyway.Also i have a strong tolerance. Now i have to stand alot during shows so i was up on the side behind the last row of seats cause they were takin. Half way through the show and (they were pretty good the band} they stopped the show cause something was goin on down front but you couldn’t quite tell and it was starting to take a long time. Next thing i know i was on the ground and there is a pretty girl in my face askin if im alright wakin me ,it was like i did nitreous oxide. I said yeah im fine and stood up, a minute later it happened again this time she woke me up and said i had to get in a seat. And by now they are calling for security, they took me down the steps put me in a wheelchair and when we got outside i got up and told them i was fine the lead security guy asked if i wanted medical i said no i wanna see the rest of the show. We went to the bathroom to look at my face and try to wipe it it wasn’t bleeding it was like road or rug rash scratches on my face around one eye and shoulder. He let me go back in but i had to stay down stairs. I was fine after that. two giant headrushes that and i splated the ground that luckily wasnt concrete or the edge of anything.

  19. germy said:

    I’ve read that a gram or two of Vitamin C can help bring you back a bit faster when you’ve had too much herb.

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