Ask Old Hippie: Why Do I Get Sick When I Get High?

Old Hippie Kenobi

From numerous questions:

I threw up!…in a parking lot, while still in the car. I couldn’t handle it. I feel as though I must be one hell of a lightweight.

I just took maybe 4-5 hits, and immediately after, started feeling really clammy and hot, and after a few minutes, I threw up. How could I prevent this and/or what does it mean?

A: It scares me a bit to hear about some of the youngsters now going deliberately for “ultimate highs” like they’re in some kind of frat contest (cf: “lightweight”). They’re sometimes butting up into tripping territory and don’t realize what they’re doing and how dangerous it can be. Not a week goes by on r/trees or r/saplings without someone (usually someone new to weed) talking about barfing or passing out. That only happened to me twice from being too high in almost 45 years, and even that was explainable by being dehydrated (with low blood sugar too).

Feeling clammy, hot, and nauseous are the classic signs of syncope (fainting or passing out). Your blood pressure drops precipitously, and out you go. Marijuana smokers call this “greening out” (sometimes “greenout”, “whiteout” or “whitey”) to distinguish it from alcohol-induced blackouts, which generally last longer and can involve doing things you cannot remember afterwards. Cannabis rarely causes anything this dire, but the experience is still no fun.

While it’s possible to be physically allergic to cannabis, it’s relatively rare. Virtually every instance of “greening out” or vomiting has one or more of the following things in common:

  • Dehydration. You know how your throat gets dry? Well, using cannabis will suck a lot of moisture right out of your body. If you don’t drink water right along with your smoking to replace it, you’ll experience some effects from that. Depending on your health, they may go unnoticed, or you could find yourself in trouble.
  • Overdoing it. Too much too soon, especially for new users, and you’ll be higher than you expected. Suddenly you’re sensitive to everything going on in your body, your mind starts flipping out a bit, and you feel uncomfortable and sick. Sitting in a smoky room or car with no fresh air makes the problem worse, and you’re likely to pass out or puke.
  • Slow down! For newbies, one toke no more than every 10 minutes is a good idea, and stop as soon as you feel high enough. Don’t be “peer pressured” into going for a moon shot when you’re not ready. Real friends won’t do this to you.
  • Low blood sugar. We all know you’ll get the munchies after smoking, but if your stomach is empty before smoking, the sudden rush of chemicals telling you that you’ve got to eat will also tell your stomach there’s something wrong down there.
  • Swallowing smoke. This will often get even experienced smokers in trouble, especially with bongs. When a lot of smoke goes into your stomach rather than your lungs, it often has the nasty and instant effect of making you barf. Pay attention to what you’re doing. If you’re too high to smoke properly, you’re too high!

There was also that little incident back in 1981. So my last warning is if you’re wearing tall lace-up motorcycle boots, don’t make them too tight or they’ll restrict the blood flow, and one joint from Nick’s stash is all it will take for you to pass out in Roy Rogers.

Got a question for Old Hippie? Send in your questions to him here or post a comment below.

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. 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.


I lol’d at this story, I have found out everything he said from experience. But I remember being a newbie and wondering the same thing when I was younger. I didn’t know the part about the low-blood sugar tho but I guess you learn something new every day. I usually like to eat before I smoke, otherwise you waste the medicine eating. But I guess some people like it, its the best medicine for making sick-people hungry. No other medicine will stimulate your appetite quiet like Cannabis.

Sometimes what causes sickness and vomiting is that newbie stoners don’t realize the serious power of the munchies and end up pounding back about 4 times their normal amount of food.

Sick you say… how about a little mold in the bud? it is very common and people who are allergic to mold can hurt from smoking or vaping mold spores from what I read. I mean, I think I am mildly allergic to both hemp and hops, and the only way to destroy that allergy thing is to do the decarboxylating thingy and heat the pot to 250F for a half hour in the oven. Of course that turns an ounce of bud into a half ounce of non-allergenic bud because of the moisture loss. Another source is that maybe the pot has been feed too much fertilizer in it’s final days before harvest to get that extra gram of product, but that too is nasty to smoke. And the third and maybe the last thing to make a person’s head hurt is that the pot has not had a chance to cure for a few weeks. Not sure what curing for six weeks does besides just sitting there and getting rotated as often as you remember, but maybe it allows the nasty VOCs or fertilizer stuff to evaporate or the green stuff (vulcan blood) has a chance to degrade a bit. Also the curing helps to balance the pot a bit, turning a bit of THCa into CBD through oxidation, but I do not know if the decarboxylating transforms some of the THC into CBD or not. My vapor-spectro-analyzer is in the shop or I would know this stuff.
Personally, I am allergic to anything green but my life changed when I ate a few flowers off a bud several years ago and for the first time in years, my headaches were gone. Somehow pot helps my sinus headaches become less frequent and severe. I eat a gram or so of decarboxylated leaf for breakfast, cooked in oil and water with garlic and oregano leaf for a few minutes and then I add a couple of eggs, shooms, onions, etc. A gram of dried, powdered decarboxylated bud would be too much for a breakfast dose… well, maybe for most people, especially if you had to go to work. Back off on the dose if you need to work and remember that a little everyday is better than trying to spot treat your ailments with a mega-dose. Decarboxylated pot is amazingly powerful, maybe 10x, so you don’t need much, especially if you have a poverty income like I do. Or if you don’t have time for cooking, put some decarb under your tongue for a quick results that last for hours. Your food is your main medicine. Make your medicine your food.
Peace and Love always…

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