Earlier this year, the first recorded death from an overdose of THC (the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) occurred in Louisiana. A coroner ruled that a 39-year old woman who vaped concentrated THC oil sustained a fatal marijuana overdose. The case has generated a lot of public commentaries. Many critics argue people simply can’t die from too much weed due to the large quantity of marijuana required. But is it true?
No Previous Documented Cases of MJ Overdosing
First, it seems important to mention some points of agreement. Both supporters and critics of the recent autopsy results share common ground in acknowledging the absence of previous extensively documented cases. Can someone die from too much weed? This event proves rare indeed.
Another point of agreement for most people concerns the effects caused by marijuana overdoses. These vary sometimes from one person to another. However, ingesting too much THC produces symptoms including vomiting, nausea, blood pressure increases, mental confusion, and heart rate changes. Marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient causes undeniable physiological impacts. However, it’s important to remember that too much of ANYTHING can be hazardous to your health.
The Marijuana Overdose Debate
Yet how much apprehension, if any, should people feel about the possibility of a THC-induced overdose? The absence of uniform standards for documenting THC levels in products ranging from foods to joints to vaping oils contributes to ongoing uncertainty.
Consumers sometimes don’t know the actual level of THC in the products they ingest. Additionally, illicitly produced marijuana frequently includes toxic contaminants. Should coroners fault THC or pesticides when apparent marijuana overdose deaths occur?
While countless lives have definitely been claimed by substance abuse such as drugs or alcohol, cannabis alone hasn’t served as an official cause of death until now. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the most highly respected health authorities in the United States, considers a fatal overdose of marijuana “unlikely”. A professor from the University of Toronto maintains human beings require THC blood levels equivalent to smoking 2,000 marijuana joints to die from too much weed.
Not A Simple Issue
Today, drug overdose deaths pose an all-too-common and tragic fact of life for many families. During every 24-hour period, some 130 Americans die from opioid overdoses and 6 from alcohol toxicity. However, substance abusers also survive overdoses sometimes.
This background sparks strong emotions on both sides of marijuana debates. While a fatal weed overdose proves rarer in statistical terms than a lightning strike, too much THC might prove unhealthy.
People who support restricting marijuana argue that combining it with other substances potentially harms vulnerable individuals. Can an overdose of THC push a substance abuser past the point of reviving from an otherwise non-fatal opioid, alcohol, or amphetamine overdose, for example?
Might the addition of high quantities of THC contribute to a heart attack or a stroke? Easy answers don’t always exist for these types of haunting medical inquiries. Perhaps only further scientific research will answer the question: how much cannabis is too much?