Ask Mama: Is Greening Out a Real Thing?
Published on April 19, 2022
by Tough Mama
All right, kids, gather round. It’s time for a tough talk about a tough subject: greening out. You’ve got questions, like
- What is greening out?
- Is greening out even for real or is it just more reefer madness scare stories?
- What do I do if I get too high?
- Is there anything I can do to avoid a greenout?
- And the biggie: What’s the worst that could happen?
If you’ve read Mama’s Story, you already know we don’t mess around with the facts, so here are some straight answers to all of your questions.
The TL;DR on Greening Out
The bad news is that greening out is a thing that can happen. The good news is that it won’t kill you…and what doesn’t kill you teaches you a little more about your tolerance.
The most common symptoms of greening out are
- Increased heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Hallucinations (in extreme cases)
For most people, the effects only last a couple of hours, and you can ride it out with a few common-sense ways to cope (which Mama will share later in this article). There are also things you can do to make greenouts a lot less likely, like not getting cross-faded on weed and booze at the same time, or making sure you’re fed and watered before you start.
If you have a heart condition or history of heart disease, you should definitely talk with your medical professional about consuming cannabis.
What Is Greening Out?
Greening out is what happens when you consume more THC than your body can handle. It’s not uncommon — in fact, most stoners will probably experience a greenout at least once, especially when using high potency products or trying a new form of cannabis. It has a range of nasty effects, including nausea, dizziness, discomfort, paranoia, generalized anxiety, racing heartbeat, drowsiness, and, you know, generally feeling like you’re going to die. (Don’t worry, it happens to the toughest of us!)
What Causes Greening Out?
Like Mama already said (so listen up this time), the simple answer is “consuming too much THC.”
But what exactly is “too much”? This is where things get complicated. The line between vibing and greening out can be different for every person — and it even can vary for each person depending on different circumstances. To understand it, you need to know a little about how weed gets you high.
Here’s a down-and-dirty primer.
The Endocannabinoid System and Greening Out
The endocannabinoid system (known as the ECS, for short) is the most recently discovered bodily system and may be the most important system in our bodies. Stoner science for the win.
The ECS helps maintain homeostasis in all of the cells in the body. In other words, whenever something in our environment changes, the ECS goes to work to keep the body functioning at its best level. It does this by releasing certain enzymes that bind to receptors on the surface of our cells, which trigger chain reactions that help us feel warmer, cooler, less anxious, calmer, hornier — the list goes on and on.
Basically, the ECS is what keeps our brains and bodies working the way they should.
Some of those enzymes our body makes are virtually identical to enzymes found in the cannabis plant, most notably THC and CBD. When you take in THC, it binds to certain receptors, triggering your body to release chemicals that make you feel happier, calmer, more nervous, hornier, etc., etc. When you take in more THC than your system can handle, your body is flooded with those chemicals, which results in — you guessed it — greening out.
Does Greening Out Mean I’m a Lightweight?
It’s not a shame game, okay? While newbies or folks that haven’t toked up in a while are more likely to get too high, it can happen to anyone at any time, especially if they’re partaking in a high-potency product for the first time.
There are a few things that can make you more susceptible to that way-too-high feeling, though. They include…
- Partaking in weed AND other substances, especially alcohol
- Getting stoned on an empty stomach
- Being high in a situation that makes you anxious
- Using a higher dosage or different form of cannabis than you’re used to
- Genetics (maybe)
In other words, if you’re already feeling a little off, there’s a higher risk that you may have a bad reaction. There are ways to counterbalance most of those factors in the tips section below. (Mama’s got you!!)
Symptoms of Getting Too High
Let’s take a closer look at the most common symptoms of getting too high.
- Nausea 🤢 : While weed is well-known as a way to fight nausea, it’s also one of the most common symptoms of over-consumption. It will pass.
- Anxiety 😬 : Some (unlucky!) people get anxious when they indulge, but the anxiety that comes along with a greenout can be next level. If you find yourself wondering whether you’ll ever come down from this high, chances are you’re mid-greenout. Roll with it, and be careful not to call 911 and tell them you are literally dying — especially if you’re a cop.
- Paranoia 👀 : Paranoia is another common reaction to weed, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re on the way to greening out. It is a pretty good signal that you should chill for a bit, though. If you’re feeling extra jumpy or panicking at every little sound, it’s time for a little self-care.
- Increased heart rate ❤️: One of the physical side effects of weed is an increase in your heart rate. When you’re all in your head, though, that increase can feel really scary. Combine it with paranoia and anxiety, and it’s almost a closed feedback loop. Unless you have an underlying heart condition, this, too, shall pass in due time.
- Drowsiness 😴 : That pleasant, mellow dreaminess you get from a nice hit of Indica can sometimes cross the line to knocking you out for the count. If you’re not in a good place to sleep it off, that can be a big problem.
- Dry mouth 😛 : Cottonmouth is a real thing, and it’s not just from dehydration. Turns out that THC makes you produce less saliva. Chew some gum, or suck on hard candy.
What To Do If You — Or Your Buddy — Gets Too High
Despite your best efforts and experience, it happens. You — or one of your bud buddies — are way too high. Here’s what you can do to get through it.
- Don’t Panic. Yes, that’s easier said than done, but it really helps to keep reminding yourself that no one ever died of a weed overdose. You’ll be fine. It will just take time.
- Get with Friends. If you’re alone, call a friend to be with you. Pick someone that gets it, and will hang with you, reassure you, and distract you. This is not the time for that one friend — you know who they are — that thinks it’s funny to pop a balloon behind your head.
- Hydrate. Water and a light snack will help take the edge off. A glass of fruit juice can be especially helpful since it will give your blood sugar a little lift. Just avoid alcohol, since research shows that alcohol increases the concentration of THC in the blood. This is the exact opposite of what you want to happen when you’re already greening out.
- Distract Yourself. Play a video game, go for a walk, watch your favorite comfort show. Do whatever it takes to just take your mind off your symptoms and make the time pass more quickly.
- Try Some CBD. CBD can help manage the over-the-top effects of too much THC. Keep a few gummies handy just in case.
- Sniff Some Pepper. Or a Lemon. It sounds weird, but there are a lot of folks that swear by lemon or black peppercorns to help them come down when they’re too high. It’s probably because they both contain natural terpenes that help relieve anxiety.
- Take a Nap. Sleeping it off works.
When to Get Help
In most cases, greening out is nothing to worry about. You should call for medical help if:
- someone is continually vomiting.
- someone has a heart condition and is experiencing chest pain.
- they seem overly sedated (i.e., you can’t keep them awake).
Tips to Avoid Greening Out
Our vape carts and infused pre-rolls may be a little stronger than you’re used to — tough as a silverback, remember? If this is your first trip on the silverback express, here are a few things you can do to ensure that you bliss-out, instead of greenout.
- Indulge in a Safe Space. Yeah, yeah, you’re not a baby. Still, being in a place where you’re comfortable with people you like makes everything better, right?
- Go Easy on the Alcohol. If you do decide to crossfade, the accepted wisdom is weed first, then booze
- Know Your Tolerance. If you’re trying a new strain, product, or different method of ingesting, go easy at first ( especially if you’re going for something with higher THC than you’ve tried before). Take it one hit at a time, and wait to judge how high you are before hitting it again.
- Know the Dosage. Okay, real talk here. Look for the dose on the label before you buy — and only buy from those you trust to put the truth on their labels.
- Eat a Little Something Before You Get High. Weed on an empty stomach is an invitation to the greenout gremlins.
- Take it Low and Slow. Mama knows that’s standard advice, but it’s especially important when you’re experimenting with something new like Mama’s Yolo SHOTZ. Even if you’re used to edibles packing 100-200mg, nanoemulsions come up quick and let your body absorb more THC. Mama’s suggestion: start with 5mg microdoses and proceed with caution.
Mama’s Got Your Back
We’re all about putting the fun back into getting high. That’s why we never cut corners when it comes to getting properly baked. Every cart and pre-roll is high-quality, high-potency, and tasty as Mama’s home cooking. Check it out — and be ready to party.
Leafly – 8 Ways to Sober Up from Being High
Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia – How Do You Look After Someone Who Is Greening Out on Cannabis?
Harvard Health – Marijuana and Heart Health: What You Should Know
Canigma – What Is Greening Out? What Does It Mean and Is It Dangerous?
Healthline – Can You Overdose on Cannabis? Separating Myth from Fact
NORML – Introduction to the Endocannabinoid System
Way of Leaf – The Science Behind Weed and Cotton Mouth
Leafly – Can CBD Undo the Anxious Side Effects of THC?